Millennium Post

Follow your dreams, go digital

In 1943, Abraham Maslow presented a paper titled ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ where he proposed the theory of ‘The Hierarchy of Needs’, suggesting that the most basic level of needs, i.e. Physiological, Safety and Love & Belonging needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs- Esteem & Self- Actualisation.

Indians, however, have a very simple three point approach to this entire theory-  called the ‘Roti-Kapda-Makaan’ theory. Every Indian strives to keep a roof on his head and heat in his hearth, and thus he lives out his entire lifetime running from pillar to post trying to make his life as comfortable as possible.

A new born, for instance, needs totally undivided attention, a warm family and mother’s milk to keep alive. As the child grows older, these get replaced with a need for a decent upbringing, sound education and a conducive, safe environment. A school with decent infrastructure, teachers, and books, stationary etc. are just the basics. As the child grows older further, needs are replaced with aspirations of a better and more comfortable life. Between these two stages, a child seeks effective education that allows the aspirations to materialise. A strong background in education along with value added cutting edge services forms the fulcrum of minimum government and maximum governance.

It is a little difficult to explain the importance of a decent education to the social media savvy young adults of our country- the hardships one would eventually have to face in future if they aren’t equipped enough to deal with life, and the kind of issues that already plague their less fortunate rural counterparts. But what we can do, is tell them what they will need to face this world head on with- a task made easier with some brilliant words of wisdom in the form of Ashton Kutcher’s famous Teen Choice USA Acceptance Speech.

‘Opportunity looks a lot like hard work. I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job, and every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job until I had my next job. The best thing in the entire world, is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. So be smart, be thoughtful, and be generous. The third thing is something that I just re-learned from Steve Jobs. He said that everything around us that we call life was made up by people, who are no smarter than you, and you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in.  So build a life. Don’t live one, build one. Find your opportunities, and live them.’

Like Ashton says, some opportunities are created by the people, some will need to be created by the Government. Government’s thrust on skill development as an alternate way of education is praise worthy. This however has to be sustained with a thrust on a massive job creation in multiple sectors. The jobs are created from new challenges and innovations in the way we live.

Statistics show that a majority of the Indian population is between the age group of 15- 55 years, a group that is most responsible for its current state of affairs. However, an even alarming thought is that the next largest group is the new-borns- the ones who will be responsible for the future. Thus, there is a growing need for a robust system that allows everyone an equal opportunity at life. A modular credit based multi entry- exit vocational education system that builds skills and education together at different levels providing for complete vertical and lateral mobility into conventional systems and job markets recognising prior learning along the way as developed by AICTE can become that robust opportunity.In the commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, the late Steve Jobs made a statement that set the turn of the century there forward .

‘You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.’

We realise today that we’re a growing population, but aren’t doing much to help them, apart from increasing it every 27 seconds. The objective to quote two very famous speeches verbatim was to drive home a point- We have to rise to the occasion. Cursing someone else for our misfortunes- our lost opportunities, won’t take us anywhere. Passing a comment from afar won’t help the socio-economic status either; only doing something that is beneficial to our country and enriches our life is of prime importance.

This can happen through various schemes that our government has now launched to help us – NVEQF referred above functions purely on the basis of providing skill sets and creating a work force that reverses the current trend of brain drain and helps our country grow instead.

Another way of pulling this together is through the ‘Digital Education and Digital Services’ that are being put together as you read this- a concept that has been in our country for centuries called the ‘Gurukul’ system, which should now be modified to work with the times and as enumerated in Part I of this exposition.

The need of the hour is ease of access- for everything from government rulings to paperwork. A person who understands and bridges this need gap is a person who is truly using his education to maximise the profits.

In line with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s next big push to free up service delivery from the hold of the lower bureaucracy in the form of a ‘digital cloud’ for every citizen, more schemes can be rolled out that purely benefit every stakeholder in this space.

Digital services that allow a farmer to know the health or the upkeep of his farm or a citizen to be able to get all his certificates through a repository or a student to apply for a loan and the amount deposited directly in his account or a tourist sourcing all information on a mobile or a housewife transacting all household requirements on an i-pad – all have the potential for wealth creation and creation of newer job markets.    

Digital services indeed has potential unheard of to unite populations like no religion can. For instance, with the birth of every new citizen of our country, if a ‘cloud’ is assigned to them – right from their birth certificate, medical records, school, college records, extra activities of community building to their personal details will all be easily accessible in one particular place at all times. Certificates issued by the government, important paperwork – all of it can be re-routed through the cloud. This scheme is going to take giant strides and reach the ultimate goal – clean, uncluttered & pure governance.

In the early 90’s, a popular cartoon channel aired a show called ‘The Jetsons’. It was an ultra-futuristic story with everything set in the 2000s. Overhead trains, multiple flyovers, mobile phones in every hand and a chip that read your entire life history in a matter of seconds. It felt like a dream at that point- but today, it is set to become our reality, if it hasn’t already. ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.’ - Steve Jobs, 2005.

We all have a responsibility to start and propagate the digital revolution on Indian terms in an Indian way and in an Indian vehicle that will eventually create Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam for in our Prime Minister’s words ‘this is in our DNA, this is in our genetic system.’

The author is Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education
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