It sounds interesting to many to know Indian Civilization is one of the oldest civilization that has been sustaining till today, but it will be more surprising to them to know that, today this “Ancient” India is a youthful nation, with full of aspiration, ambition and hope to grow better. Guided by many great Indian minds, (a few of them as mentioned in the article below), the Indian youths, today, are powerful stakeholder of the nation, society and economy. However, in the complex juncture of various issues arising from the trend of development and modernization, the distraction factor has come up. What is the reason? What is the solution? Does our rich cultural and educational heritage has anything that can guide us ? Read this interesting article which compels you to introspect and seek for a better India for tomorrow. The thoughts have been penned down by Mr. Dipankar Roy and refined by Mr. Ram Powru, from MARC School of Business, Bangalore. Happy Reading !
In a recent media conclave, former President APJ Abdul Kalam said “Democracy is like a Banyan tree” where the roots grow into branches before they return to the roots. In a functioning democracy, common people grow into positions of power so that they can come back and serve the common people. In leading business schools, we are taught that vision and mission are key initial steps to management success. India, by adopting a written constitution for the people, by the people and of the people has got its vision and mission right. Yet in over six decades, our vision remains far from being realised. India is a unique country that cannot be compared with any other, perhaps but with China. Quarter century ago, India and China were being talked of as architects of a new Asian Century. While China is today seen as a manufacturing hub of the world and a military superpower, India leaves an impression of an unrealised potential. What gives hope for India is its three strengths – demography, democracy and knowledge-based economy.
Of the three, the demographic dividend or in other words ‘youth power’ is often seen as the clincher. The census reports show that about 250 million Indians are in the age group of 15 to 24 and another 300 million (equal to the population size of USA) are below 15 years. Survey reports from the Ministry of Human Resources reveal that only 20 million students are enrolled in all University, colleges and vocational education institutes, this implies, less than 10% of the youth are gaining higher education. The burden of achieving the vision for a developed India thus entirely lay on the shoulders of this small section of the populace. It is this section of the nation that has to provide leadership to the other 90% of the youth and to the USA-sized population of the next generation.
Are the youth of today equipped to meet these challenges and can they change the destiny of India? It all depends on the quality of knowledge they are gaining from the higher education system today. Research shows that only 20% graduates are ’employable’ in the organized job market in India. Popular debates on the subject have been quick to point out that the education system, with its outdated curriculum and teaching methodology is not producing the skills and talent necessary to meet the competitive requirements of the modern corporate world. Yet, it is the same system that produces entrepreneurs and scientists out of the Indian youth when they work in Western countries. Such debates often miss out on questioning what the youth are really doing in their daily lives. Being a youth, I can say that majority of my contemporaries are wasting their time in unproductive activities on social media, popular electronic media and in adolescent distractions.
According to Facebook’s latest statistics by country, currently there are over 61 million Facebook users in the India, only behind Brazil and USA. Even though this represents only 5% of the population, it has been steadily growing at the rate of 1 million per month. The worrying factor is that half of the Facebook users in India are in the age group of 18 to 24. While modern technology is to be openly embraced, it is also important to use the technology productively and to be aware of the risks and dangers that it entails. By clicking posts and links in Facebook, the youth is compromising on their privacy and security. Data is being mined on the basis of sexual orientation, religious or political views without the knowledge of the user. Popular television content targeting the youth is designed to keep them engaged in less intellectual programming that are branded as ‘reality shows’ like Roadies, Indian Idol, Big Boss etc. The peer pressure and crass consumption of imported culture leads to depression and loss of direction among the youth. 7,674 cases of suicide were recorded in six metro cities of the country in 2011 according to the National Crime Records Bureau. This, along with the alarming rise in violence and crime against women on a daily basis, has deeply dented the social fabric of the nation.
With demographic dividend turning into demographic distraction, can democracy save the day for the Indian youth? Pessimism and cynicism come to mind when the youth think of democratic politics. It has been in the interest of incumbent politicians to keep 90% of the youth out of the higher education system so that they can continue to perpetuate their politics of power and profit. It is also in the interest of the politicians to keep the small educated section of the youth distracted and disillusioned from the real issues of the nation. News media also has in its interest to sensationalise and trivialise current affairs to increase its viewership ratings and not to ask hard questions.
With demography and democracy failing, is the knowledge economy the only outlet for the youth to take India on the path of progress? The previous generation has shown that despite the politics and society, islands of success can be created by India’s knowledge workers. For thousands of years, India has played host to sources of knowledge in philosophy, medicine, arts, metallurgy, astronomy, mathematics, religion and other faculties through its renowned ancient Universities (Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramsila, etc). At various stages in history, it has been the youth that has led India to glory whether it is Chandragupta Maurya who united the nation, or Gautama Buddha who enlightened the world with ideas of peace, or Bhagat Singh and his friends who espoused freedom, or Swami Vivekananda who took Indian philosophy to the global platform that later inspired inventions in nuclear physics.
It is long overdue that our higher education system departs from the British colonial format of examination-oriented learning and is transformed into a holistic learning that inculcates ethics, philosophy, critical thinking and revival of ancient knowledge systems. By including current affairs into the curriculum and by inscribing nationalistic values into the subject matter, this small section of the youth that I represent can be dissuaded from the unproductive distractions and can transform India to achieve her national vision and mission.
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