On July 27, India lost the visionary leader APJ Abdul Kalam. The People’s President advocated the need for providing quality education to the youth in 6 lakh villages to overcome the hurdles to economic growth. He insisted good teachers can create good leaders. We must create a fund in Dr Kalam’s name and use the money earned for economic and social growth. So, how to create and manage the corpus?
India’s population is 121 crore and the working population is estimated to be 78 crore. If 10% of working population contributes Rs 2,500 per head to the donation-based crowd funding, then the initial corpus will be Rs 19,500 crore.
The fund can be mobilised by a trust, governed by a board consisting of experts from various fields. The government can set up the trust and oversee the functioning. The corpus can be managed by a group of public sector mutual funds such as the NPS.
The initial corpus of Rs 19,500 crore can be invested in a basket of equity, government bonds and other fixed income securities like the NPS. The average return earned by NPS is 12.5%, and even if we assume this fund earns a return of 10%, the annual earnings will be Rs 1,950 crore.
Now, what all can be done with the annual returns?
Appointment of teachers in villages: If the trust appoints 100 science, mathematics and English teachers per district for all the 640 districts at a monthly salary of Rs 20,000 per teacher, the annual expense will be Rs 1,536 crore. They can teach in government-run schools in the villages and help students improve their employability skills. In fact, Dr Kalam said in one of his interviews that his dream of becoming a missile man was seeded by his Class V science teacher who took his classmates to the seashore to illustrate how a bird flies. If we can appoint committed and qualified teachers, the job is half done.
Scholarship to students: Of the remaining amount of Rs 414 crore, the trust can give an annual scholarship of Rs 1 lakh to 10,000 students based on merit. The expenditure will be Rs 100 crore.
Funding startups in rural areas: The trust can provide funding assistance of Rs 1 crore each to 200 startups with technical, marketing and financial viability. The emphasis should be to promote entrepreneurs in rural areas for the economic development of the villages.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Prize: The trust can constitute an award like the Nobel Prize in Kalam’s name and honour 10 best Indians every year for contribution in the fields of science & technology, teaching, academic research, social development, defence & security, public administration, medicine, literature, media and anti-corruption. The trust can award Rs 5 crore each to 10 best personalities every year (Rs 50 crore).
The remaining amount of Rs 64 crore can be used by the trust in meeting its operating activities and mobilising funds on a regular basis. Doing this would be the best way of remembering Dr Kalam, who had said, “We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilisational heritage.”
The author teaches accounting and finance courses at the Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi