Strategies for Knowledge & Skills
0. India is a young nation now because 54% of the population is 25years and below and more young ones (about 20 million a year) get added. But this youthful population can be converted into Human Capital only by imparting to all of them relevant and quality knowledge and skills to meet the challenges of the global economy.
1. In terms of actions (and therefore support / facilitating policies) we need to recognise the fact that Indians are placed in many stratified segments in terms of their economic strengths, endowments of knowledge / skills and availability of economic opportunities. Therefore there has to be customized policies / procedures to empower them in terms of their skills and importantly to launch them into their first earning opportunity (which for most Indians is going to be in self-employed category) as it has been for the past two decades.
2. Most of the â€œpublicâ€ debate / media attention / â€œhighâ€ level policy attention is around a narrow crust in the upper layer. Even within that the talk is about IITâ€™s IISc, Nanotechnology (money being controlled by a small group), occasionally IIMâ€™s.
3. While high quality specialised institutions require special attention â€“ (I am aware of how institutions like ISRO, CCMB etc were built) one cannot bracket all S &T institutions or Academic institution under the same bracket and treat them similarly. Have only a very few select ones (be bold enough to select some only inspite of vested interests that currently control the S&T system). Empower them fully. Give them freedom and autonomy from Depts / Ministers like MHRD, DST, DBT, DSIR etc. That will take care of high quality by their own internal processes which also includes knowledge of the external requirements.
4. In this connection one has to also give attention as to how some more such top class institutions can be built up either by Govt. or private or joint sector. One needs special fast entry and interference free functioning to grow. Policies and procedures are required for this. In addition by decontrol of Education sector and open assessment by Chartered Educationists (as is done by Charted Accountants) the average quality of most of higher professional educational system need to be raised. This cannot be achieved by more controls by UGC, AICTE, NACC etc who have infact stymied many good private lowest common denominator standards.
5. The above four sections address the top tip of the trough marked E. (Reference: International Journal of Information Technology and Management, Volume2, No, 3, 2003, â€œ Towards a knowledge society in India: issues for managementâ€: Y.S.Rajan: pp-251-267). Some of them in Biotech areas can also go to top of A. Also if there are progressive Venture Capitals â€“ substantive amount for these high science / high tech sectors, India like Israel can create many entrepreneurs and high GDP contribution from these efforts. This will also enable highly qualified professionals seeing a growth for themselves in India.
6. In a small middle layer those who have some 3year education beyond 10+2 form only about 6-8 % of the total age-cohorts. The solutions of a reasonable living for such persons are via jobs BPOâ€™s and similar such jobs in the services sector (most of them non-permanent but better pays compensate lean periods) etc. But most of these persons, even such small segment of 6-8% of 20million each year is under heavy pressure because many of them have studied in their mother tongues and also without any orientation as to what the markets want. Most of them are even incapable of taking entry level exams for govt jobs like clerks, assistantâ€™s etc. This group has to be empowered through proper orientation even when they are studying through many innovative methods for giving them skills. Existing rigid syllabi have to be changed. For those who have passed out and are somewhere in the market as unemployed or underemployed, there has to be special efforts to give them such training.
Question: where are jobs?
With training some new openings of jobs arise as many jobs are not filled because of lack of availability of right persons.
Also Govt. would need to liberalize Services sectors to create investments which will increase such job opportunities.
Also encourage some of them to go abroad. Make massive efforts for language training etc.
(I may add that without a fast economic growth economically, socially solution for great employment is not possible. Therefore policies to stimulate faster economic growth are essential if we aim at empowering our people with Knowledge and hope to make them have a better quality of life through their Knowledge and Skills).
Also for this group after empowering them with necessary skill sets and knowledge, there has to be some micro credit facilities for those who aim at self-employment.
Risking public (Govt.) money this way is far superior than investing on a huge bureaucracy which does not service them. Even if some percentage cheat without returning the loan, it is worth the risk! Do not the nationalized government supervised banks carry NPAâ€™s of a huge amount? When it comes to loaning to such knowledge / skills / empowered persons govt. bureaucracy raises many questions of public accountability. These persons of middle layer occupy possible in D and part of C (right hand side) of the curve referred above. Those at C would get a special lift upwards from their current level due to these measures.
7. Coming now to the bottom layer, which carries about 90% of our youth about 18 million for each age group of about 20 million each. They occupy most of C-poor segments.
Their knowledge / skills improvement has to be done through massive Skill Initiative â€“ first creating a pride in physical work; Carpentry; electrician work; agriculture; hairstyling; construction industry; biotech related field operational skills; para medical; para legal etc. This is to prepare the human resource. CII has started a Skills Development Initiative.
Simultaneously large scale demonstrations involving farmers, and others, have to be done to get many agriculture related activities modernisations as was done by late Prof.S. K.Sinha in Bihar, Uttaranchal, Kancheepuram etc. These are spreading through farmers very well. It involves skill sets to link to market, diversification of supplementary income through poultry milk etc. He had an idea of imparting relevant Biotechnology after their income levels come up â€“ as it was doing remarkably.
Similar other efforts are done BAIF. (Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation).
There are other good examples in India â€“ not necessarily the showy ones!
Such actual demonstrations in situ with people with low income and making them earn more are vital to sustain the skilled human resource with hope to try themselves. Such demonstrations require some hassle free public funding. Funding for these cannot carry the same format and conditions as is done for proposals from R&D Labs.
Third simultaneous action after skill set giving; and demonstration come pico (micro micro) level funding to those who are skilled so that they can start an economic life on their own.
PURA programme as advocated by our Rashtrapatiji can generate a lot of employment opportunity for such skilled persons in the new businesses that will come along with PURA, through investments.
These examples and three simultaneous actions cover those in sector C (who are both in rural areas, urban slums and small towns).
8. Such upgradations are not one shot actions but a continuous process which should span about a decade or two. Then they will learn to learn by themselves.
It is possible to lift those currently in Sector C to an individual family income of Rs.1.Lakh per annum per family, if executed well.
The experiences in Bihar, UP, Uttaranchal etc by TIFAC and also by BAIF in other areas indicate, â€œ ordinaryâ€ Indians even illiterate one are extraordinary in learning if they can see clear economic benefits.
Then social benefits can follow.
9. The above write up gives a brief outline of how Knowledge / Skill Management has to be done for the different layers of persons / groups in India. It is not enough to concentrate on the upper layer of knowledge skills and we need massive programmes for Middle and Lower layers too.
10. Also Knowledge / Skill upgradation should also accompany investments post knowledge / skill acquisition. Venture capital for the top; microcredits for the middle; picocredits for the lower ones. There has to be a mind set say in making these available without â€œ needlessly inelastic rulesâ€.