If you look at the demography of India, more than half the population of 1.3 billion is under 25. It is the youngest population in the world. By 2020, the average Indian age is expected to be 28 while the rest of the developed world will be in their 40s. Clearly, we have the new-age human resource to conquer and lead the world in the 21st century.
But do we have the ability and the facility to equip the young people with education to be the work engine of the world? If we get it right, if we educate them well, we transform India along with the world. If we get it wrong, the demographic dividend becomes a demographic tragedy.
We have seen that the unemployed, frustrated and under-educated youth become prey to the cajolery of the Maoists and prey to the gun and the bullet. If we don’t include the excluded from education, if we let caste, region, religion and gender decide the fate of an individual’s right to education, we are wasting a position that is coveted by every nation on earth.
Lack of education breeds discontent, which gives rise to extreme forms of manifestations. India’s literacy rate is only 74%. This is a rise from 16% at the time of Independence, but one-third still remains vulnerable to forces involved in recruiting young guns.
Education in India is not just a social and economic issue, it is a national security issue.
An average school or university in India just does not have what it takes to produce quality product with a well-formed mind that has a clear ability to take informed life decisions. A man without a mind of his own is easy meat for extremists and recruiters. It is the most backwards of corners in the country that have become breeding grounds for hardliners and separatists. There is little to no education in these places.
The Red Corridor, in the eastern, central and the southern parts of India, experiences considerable Naxalite–Maoist insurgency. These are also areas that suffer from the greatest illiteracy and poverty, spanning parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, MadhyaPradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, and West Bengal. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) or CPI (Maoist), banned in India, is the main force behind destroying young lives, but we have so far failed to address the situation.
India’s Maoist rebels have been on a mission to enlist thousands of child soldiers in the country’s poor rural heartlands, police and human rights agencies have regularly maintained. The rebels are making parents of poor families in east and central India hand over their children, aged mostly between 10-15 years, with promises of food and a better life in camps. None of them have any education. They are not a part of India’s mainstream.
The Human Resource Development ministry’s role, therefore, becomes as critical as Ministry of home Affairs’. National security issues can no longer be only MHA’s domain. An outreach to every nook and corner should be carried on a war footing. Unless each and every child is brought into the fold of education, we will continue to see our very own picking up arms against their own.
Padhega India toh Badhega India. It’s true.