Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a great orator, and every time the leader makes a public speech in chaste Hindi, I am enthralled. The PM, on a recent visit to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, pumped hopes into hundreds of students when he talked with his usual confidence about India ruling the 21st century “era of knowledge”.
His speech had the stats ready that 800 million Indian youths below 35 years age was the dream of India, and each of this youth could write progress story of the country. PM Modi is right that there has been an era of knowledge, and India has shown the way. He also touched base with the students by stating that only those who has a plan, won’t be bothered with the important “what next” question that bogs down fresh graduates.
But to say that India will rule this century is getting a little too confident about brand India without considering the ground realties. The PM thinks and means well, but his thought lack substance. The number of unemployed youths in India is staggering, and Narendra Modi is making a claim that has little basis.
Knowledge is not always related to education. However, lack of education deprives children from rational thinking and taking on life in a constructive manner. With an education system that excludes more children than it includes, we can’t boast of reigning over the world with knowledge, when 32 million illiterate youths (2011 Census) remain unemployed.
The other literate and educated youth lack the edge of a competitive education system, and so many of them are still languishing in their homes for lack of job opportunities. Many of them are doing odd jobs which have no use of their education or field of study. This of course leads to a big wastage of youth energy, who could give a big push to the Indian economy.
A report published in November last year by The Hindu states that 10 million Indians with graduate, post-graduate and technical degrees were looking for work. This means 15% Indians with high degrees of education were seeking job in 2011. And among the states, Kerala had the highest graduate unemployment rate at over 30%.
No wonder, hordes of people from this region immigrate to the Middle East in search of well-paid jobs. Apart from India’s age-old brain-drain problem, the outflow of youth energy also cripples our economy. Apart from the few foreign dollars that make it way into India, we only lose out majorly in terms of knowledge.
The Census 2011 numbers statistics is something our PM needs to pay immediate attention. Modi’s two pet campaigns Make in India and Start-up India, has given great hopes to Indian entrepreneurs. The two campaigns, synergic in nature, have encouraged thousands of young people. But that’s mostly for the literate and the educated.
India needs a more interactive education system that will include more youth from the lower strata of the society that will empower them with the knowledge of self-help, and make their minds fertile grounds for innovation. And this will need a solid plan to accommodate the 116 million Indians who were either seeking or available for work, among them 32 million were illiterate and 84 million literate.
Knowledge, after all is the key to wisdom, and India, like Modi said, is a pioneer in it.