What the HRD minister must do

Jun 09 2014, 07:23 IST
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SummaryRather than focusing on the creation of new IITs, the HRD minister must focus on providing good primary, secondary and even college education to the hitherto deprived rural masses on war footing

India’s new HRD minister approached the finance minister asking for grants to create eight new IITs across the country. While the honourable minister was caught in an unfortunate controversy over her educational qualifications, she had an excellent opportunity to show that she understands the country’s most urgent HRD needs and Narendra Modi’s aspirations for inclusive growth through poverty eradication; by announcing her intent to create educational infrastructure and drastically raise the enrolment ratio in the coming 100 days. Instead, she chose to push for eight more IITs despite being informed by the concerned departments about the problems with the existing IITs.

India has the largest young population in the world which can be turned into a demographic dividend by appropriate measures in education, training and skill development, thus also benefiting the country enormously. Hence, the HRD ministry becomes the most important portfolio today. If they fail to educate and train the hitherto deprived children, the same demographics can turn into a curse going forward with unemployed youth turning into criminals of sorts, putting enhanced burden on other ministries in the future. The nation’s eyes are set on all the ministers during these 100 days and everyone expects them to fall in sync with each other and with Modi’s vision of India.

Since many IIT graduates leave India, there is enormous brain-drain happening from these top-notch institutions. Is it then wise to pour the taxpayers’ money into new IITs at the cost of millions across the nation who are deprived of even basic education facilities? I believe 80% of Indian population doesn’t even know what an IIT is. So, in 2019, when Modi faces the electorate again, can he boast of creation of eight more IITs; or the creation of extensive educational infrastructure across the country rendering the children of millions of poor and illiterate ‘employable’, thus raising their living standards? Remember, job creation and suitable manpower creation are two wheels of the same chariot that will ride today’s poor towards tomorrow’s prosperity.

India sure needs superior engineers, scientists, doctors, teachers, managers and so on. But focusing on one at the cost of others indicates a misplaced emphasis. So, how about focusing on providing good primary, secondary and even college education to the hitherto deprived rural masses on war footing without wasting the new academic year starting soon? (June—what an opportune timing for the new HRD minister!) As maximum efforts for primary education are

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