Priorities For India

So last Friday the four rapists were sentenced to death for the brutal crime they committed almost a year ago. A punishment well suited in my opinion. I honestly don’t think scum like them should be allowed to live in society. But like everything almost else this country does, we’re once again missing the trees for the forest.

Hanging the rapists won’t solve the root cause of the problem. It may deter a few, but it won’t stop them all. The message here is, as long as you don’t go too far, you’re OK – rarest of the rare cases.

What this country needs now is a social and educational revolution. We’ve had our Green Revolution and our Economic Reforms in 1991. Together, they revitalized and revived a stumbling nation. But now the need of the hour is a social and educational revolution!

In the past month or so, the Indian economy has been taking quite a beating, the rupee fell to a record low against the dollar leading to fears of inflation and what not. The press and everyone has been clamouring for greater economic reforms.

Next year, India holds its general elections – the world’s largest democracy goes to vote. And yes, I’m pretty sure Mr. Modi is going to win. Why? Apparently because no one else can set India on the right path. Have you seen how awesome Gujarat is – it’s shining example of economic prosperity. And everyone hopes he can replicate the same success on a much grander scale. Yes, I can see some of you fuming with anger over him, but I ask you, is there any other candidate who can even challenge him? Those who will vote for him see his ability to jump-start the economy again.

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I hope he does and yet I really don’t care even if he pulls off an economic miracle. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. We’ve had our economic reform. We’ve made our money. Seen global brands open shop in India. Witnessed a middle class rise. And sadly it’s a middle class that values money over education. And why not, money gets you more places than an education will in this country.

India’s education system has been really lagging behind in my opinion. Yes, we do have some incredible schools. But they really don’t do justice to serving our mamoth population. The same goes for our colleges. Drive down from Delhi to Dehradun and you’ll notice a “university” or “college” every few kilometres offering everything from a B.Tech. to an MBA and even PhD. No accreditation, no nothing. Who knows what is the quality of education provided and are they just duping their “students”.

We need better quality education at the primary school level across villages, towns and cities. We have the largest and youngest population in the world. We have the world’s most incredible stock of human capital, and it will go wasted. It’s untapped potential in every which way.

In my opinion, Mr. Modi (or whoever is the next PM) should focus on educational and social reforms. So many of the issues we face today as a nation can be attributed to a lack of proper education system. For too long we have ignored HDI and focused on GDP. We rank 9 or 10 in terms of GDP (nominal) but 136 in HDI. You may argue that GDP growth will in turn improve HDI. And yes, you may be correct. But it doesn’t tackle the problem head-on, instead leaves it to be solved indirectly.

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I recently read an interesting bit of news about Norway (which ranks #1 in global HDI). Norway is an oil rich country, yet it doesn’t use its oil for itself. Unlike other oil rich nations, Norway’s citizens don’t get cheap oil. In fact, Norway is the most expensive country in the world as far as gas prices are concerned. Why? The government, instead of using the oil for itself or subsidising oil prices, exports it and uses the proceeds to provide its citizens free college and national infrastructure. It meet these problems head-on.

India needs the same attitude. We’ve tackled economic issues now we need to tackle social issues, and education is the key. I’m sick of seeing hicks drive around Delhi in their flashy Audis like they own the road. The uncouth and the uncivilised are out of control. I don’t think we need bigger malls or more LV stores. We need proper schools and colleges all across this country and we need them yesterday.

Hang these rapists for now, but it’s only a short term solution. Educate the country and solve the real issue.

Image from Devesh Sahai Photography

Devesh Sahai

4 thoughts on “Priorities For India

  1. well written devesh !
    the lack of quality education is the bane of this country. The latest global university rankings doesn’t even feature one from India, in their top 200.
    Last year when working with an overseas university as a client, it was an eye opener how they were NOT interested in offering taught courses in India, until they had a robust Academic Research Center in place. They believe in putting the foundations in place instead of chasing the money.

    1. thanks k singh. means a lot coming from someone as passionate as you. i agree, we need to get our basics right. think long term and not short term. it’s sad but you can actually tell that almost everything from building universities to roads is done with the “let’s make money with this” priority.

  2. We as a society need to understand that women have to be respected. The elite colleges graduates don’t necessarily understand that. And neither are the unaccredited universities’ graduated necessarily ignorant of it. I think its more of a social attitude issue than that of professional education.

    1. I agree completely. And it is this social attitude, the morals, values that bind a society together, that needs to be taught at an elementary level. This is the education I refer to. The point about unaccredited colleges was that there is a gap in our education system which is exploited for money.

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