The mission to transform India is reflected in the Budget, where the government has focused on the need to ensure that our youth are adequately equipped to participate in the economic growth of the country. With the aim of turning India into a manufacturing powerhouse through the Make-in-India initiative, there is a need to ensure availability of adequately skilled and qualified manpower to operate our factories.
With more than 50% of our population being less than 25 years of age, India has a unique demographic advantage for ensuring supply of educated and skilled manpower who can be readily employed. Accordingly, the Skill India and the Make-in-India programmes complement one another.
As stated in the Budget, the National Skills Mission through the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship will be consolidating the various skill initiatives being implemented across several ministries. This initiative will standardise skilling procedures and outcomes across the 31 skill sectors and ensure greater industry acceptability of persons being skilled through the system. Given that skilled manpower for the manufacturing sector is largely to come from the rural areas, the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana has been launched with a corpus of R1,500 crore for reimbursing training fees incurred by rural youth.
The education sector, too, has been given due importance in the Budget, especially in making education facilities available to all, irrespective of where they live. The Budget announcement to upgrade 80,000 secondary schools and add or upgrade another 75,000 junior and middle schools to secondary level for ensuring that there is a secondary school within a 5-km of every child is welcome. However, while upgrading or adding schools, it is essential that quality of education is ensured and learning outcomes are monitored.
To ascertain that financial constraints should not be a barrier for a child not being educated, it has been proposed that scholarships as well as educational loan schemes be made available through the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram to poor and middle class students wishing to pursue higher education courses of their choice.
An integrated education and livelihood scheme called Nai Manzil has been proposed to enable the minority youth who do not have a formal school-leaving certificate to obtain one, which should help them find better employment opportunities.
In the area of higher education, the initiative of having one major central institute in each state continues. The key to success in establishing these institutes will be the ability to attract qualified and experienced faculty and maintain the quality of education.
Education and skill development will be a critical dimension in transforming our country into an economic powerhouse, and it should be ensured that quality facilities are made accessible to everyone in the country, irrespective of their location or economic status. This Budget is a step in that direction.
By Anindya Mallick
The author is senior director, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt Ltd