The recent Union Budget, by and large, can be termed as the one that will enable India to continue on the growth journey and become the preferred knowledge economy of the world.
The growth of the Indian economy accelerated to 7.6% in 2015-16. This is clearly a reflection of a robust and transformational planning by the government. The fact that the Indian economy has continued to grow in the past few years, despite a number of challenges, strengthens the confidence of global economies and the IMF in the country, and positions India as the number one major destination from an investment perspective.
The finance minister’s focus on ensuring macro stability and prudent fiscal management, along with boosting domestic demand, is in the right direction. What we need is implementation of measures towards meeting these targets.
There is considerable emphasis on education, and the lifting of ranking of Indian institutions is a welcome move. The importance given to skill development in the Budget and the steps that will be taken to increase the employability of the masses are also much-needed initiatives. The public-private partnership model can play a key role towards its success. In addition, apart from opening new colleges, we need a structured plan for building teacher capacity. Measures listed towards enhanced job creation will have the right impact through effective implementation and it would be interesting to see the governance structure around these.
To help the country grow as a knowledge economy, the announcement of the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) is a promising step. However, it remains to be seen how the funding allocated will be diverted towards research and innovation where public-private partnership is not only important but also would play a key role to catalyse the growth of Indian institutions. Over the years, the global ranking of Indian research and academic institutions must rise.
India is recognised for talent and skilled workforce by industry globally, and is on the path of becoming the most preferred knowledge economy in the world. The good thing is that the Union Budget FY17 has a clear focus on advancing research, innovation, ranking and skill development in the country.
In a world perpetually short of good resources, what we need is capacity building, investment in research and innovation, focus on resource development and best utilisation of available resources.
The author is MD, South Asia, Cambridge University Press