Millennium Post

An idea lost in transmission

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to party cadres Saturday was a timely lament that Indian media fails yet again to address the need to report on what the new government has started to do about skills and entrepreneurship education.

Skills education is the fundamental education. Thank God our national government at last appreciated this fact. It has set up a department for promotion of skills and entrepreneurship education. It took 67 years for one of our national governments to realise what is most vital for the country’s economy.

Roles of post-Indira Gandhi Indian media houses, both print and electronic – especially the English media – have been those of players in the power broking strategies with an ulterior agenda of revenue generation and building up strong political clout. They have always remained busy at one-upmanship among themselves and suppressed the talents to promote those who would feed their financial or political interests.

Most years down thereafter, Indian media houses ignored what the nation most needed to groom its young. They only developed an unholy culture of clout creation. A majority of students, who join Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) programmes in universities today, do so not for becoming a non-committal watch-dog of the society in the Fourth Estate, but to gather wealth by coming close to the powerful in politics and business, and do more pampering than honest reporting. With a view to justifying their status, they take JMC diplomas or degrees somehow, by crook or by clout, even as most of them fail in intellectual skills at writing, reporting, editing and news gathering. Real news, therefore, were often not gathered, and always went unreported yielding space for pampered gossips in which Indian media masters.

Post-Indira Gandhi media reportage glossed over rosy pictures for setting up more IITs, IIMs, costly teaching money-churning corporations like private universities, and often balanced their campaigns with populist ideas of adult education, open schooling, compulsory free schooling etc, which have remained in India half-baked as concept and practice. Seldom ideal education needs – the skills development training and education in the nativity – were highlighted.

Prime Minister’s lament this morning, ‘media ka nazar abhi parah nahi’, on the absence of Indian media’s attention onto the new department for skills and entrepreneurship education that he has created, was a timely rebuke at some media houses in the Fourth Estate in the country.
Maybe it is a fact that India needs more universities, even the IITs and IIMs, but topping of all, India needs more and more ITI’s and skills training institutes spread across the length and the breadth of the country.

That means, the opportunity of training the uninitiated into vocational skills development and education has to be taken to their native places, so that they do not drop out. This would also engage the uninitiated youth into productive activities for income generation and growth for their families. This would also generate new hopes in the heart of the disadvantaged, disgruntled and discarded.
The target students for skills education therefore should come from the remote villages in distant zones, even from the areas nearing the forests, where poaching and smuggling of Indian flora and fauna take place through the starving locals’ tacit participation. These skills institutes should be located in accessible points in villages, at least one for every five villages. If done, these skills workers would get handy jobs at highways and road-construction sites, factories and SMEs at small towns or tehsils.

Such opportunities would also help in quelling the growing dissatisfaction among villagers for denial of basic life and rights which often take violent forms in naxalism or insurgencies. Given the access and support, these disadvantaged youth in the remote India might emerge as standard source of quality work force for the enterprising world economies.

Lessons from China, USA, Australia: Time is opportune now for India, as two largest economies of the world – The USA and China -- which grew up by developing skills education as their nations’ primordial educational strategies, have come closer to shake hands with India with broader smile.  We can learn more from their styles of skills training from the grassroots, beginning at the school levels.

The standard-12 programmes for skills education helps both China and the USA ensure steady supply of skilled hands for their construction sites, factories, small and medium enterprises.
The USA has excelled further by setting up multiple Community Colleges to carry forward the skills training institutes and merge them with Degree education. Today Community Colleges are thriving productive institutions in most of the advanced nations, some like Australia and Canada name it rather differently.

Skills education would automatically create zeal among the disadvantaged about extension of education, feels American Society for Quality’s (ASQ) India chief technocrat Amit Chatterjee. ‘When Japan was devastated after the Second World War, the initials steps that Professor Edward Deming undertook for Japan’s reconstruction was to school and educate the Japanese youth into basic skills education. A whole nation worked with utmost commitment to their nation, and that evolved into their national character.’ With skills comes the essence of Quality. A skilled worker would
seldom finish chaotically. Example of Japan has been emulated by South Korea, China,
Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan enough to emerge the world’s standard
centres for skills education. ASQ’s task in the USA has spread all over to 150 countries today, to train the young engineers and managers in their nativities. They do better when they come through the skills education, says expert engineers at Maharatna PSUs unwilling to be identified.
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