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Education: An Unfinished Revolution

Education builds the man so it builds the nation. Today we claim to be the biggest human resources supplier for the world, but are we concerned what quality of human capital we are building and for whose needs? We supply bureaucrats to the government, software engineers to the IT companies around the world, highly paid managers to the multinationals, we supply engineers and science graduates as researchers to the foreign universities. What capital are we building for ourselves?

India aspires to be powerful, it wants to play a role in the international community, for that to happen, its economy has to grow multifold and for that to happen, it requires a huge force of entrepreneurs who could transform it into a nation which produces, from the one which only consumes. India needs a huge force of innovators who could make it self reliant in all kinds of sciences and technologies. India needs artists who could make its culture the most popular in the world. A culture which is not only saleable itself but also helps in selling India’s products across the world. In a nutshell, India needs Henry Fords, Bill Gates, Thomas Alva Edisons and Michael Jacksons born and educated in India.

One may say we had few. Yes, we had. M. S. Swaminathan who made India self reliant in food grains, Dhiru Bhai Ambani who proved a common man can become a billionaire, Dr. Varghese Kurien who is the father of Amul milk movement, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam who dared to build missiles for India, Pundit Ravishankar who is the ambassador of the Indian music to the world. Such people though in small numbers, were always there. But they are not the products of this education system. This system did not teach them how to become innovators or entrepreneurs or artists. Had it done so, they would have been millions in numbers. These people were inspired themselves. To some of them, their education may have given the technical know-how (though it is hardly conceivable), but not the dream or the inspiration needed. It is the education which should inspire one to become something one really wants to. Education should make you free, should make you experiment and it should make you ask questions. Ultimately, it should make you realize what you are.

Youngsters in India, do not have the freedom of selecting there career, it is said. They are forced to become engineers, doctors, MBA’s and IAS officers, it is said. Yes, agree. But that is not the problem. The problem is, youngsters in India do not have the vision to think beyond. Neither their parents, nor their grandparents had that vision. This is where the root of the problem is. Generations have gone through a system which sucks. Now the beauty is even the law-makers and educators of today’s India are products of that age old system. That is why no less than a revolution is needed in the education system in India.

A revolution means big changes. We expect the revolution in education to bring lots of changes. These changes will result into:

1. Best talents of the country working in the education sector.

Today, education is not the career of choice, but it is the career of compromise. If you are a teacher, people sympathize, they curse the prevalent unemployment in the country. Education is one of the highest profit making ‘industries’ in the service sector, but its workers are the least paid compared to those working in somewhat glamorous sectors like the IT industry. This has to change.

2. A world class infrastructure.

The experience of shopping at malls is better than the old dirty bazaars. The experience of traveling in a metro train is much better than suffering in the city buses. The experience of driving on four or six lane highways is much better the same way. The same way, infrastructure has a meaning in education. World class universities and schools with world class libraries, laboratories and classrooms, in a world class building make a world class infrastructure for education.

3. Greater investments into education, public as well as private.

We need world class infrastructure and best talents in all schools and universities of India. These resources should not remain limited to a handful of IIT’s or IIM’s. Each village should have a school with all resources and facilities. Each university should have whatever it needs for a better education. This would require huge money and hence, huge investments.

4. Education which encourages innovation and creativity.

When farmers in the villages of Punjab make a vehicle from the diesel engine and name it Maruta (A male version of Maruti), that is innovation. When villagers of the Rajasthan and Gujarat transform the Bike ‘Enfield Bullet’ into a local auto-rickshaw, that is creativity. How many automobile engineering students could do likewise? The question is, how many?

5. Education which encourages entrepreneurship.

In a Hindi movie ‘Nayak’, the father of the actress refuses to permit for her marriage with the actor because he is not a government servant. At last, he permits, but then the Actor had become the chief minister of the state. This mindset of the society, particularly of the middle class, has to be changed. You are not a respectful person if after education you start a business, as that is seen as a failure in getting a job. It is the task of the education system to change this mindset. It also has to inspire the youth for the necessary courage and vision for entrepreneurship.