Education & Job

Besides economy, India needs these fixes

There are many things wrong with

India

’s economy that need to be fixed. Politics is the biggest area of reform.

Let’s name the elephant in the room, and gently coax him out, so that we can see some of the things that jumbo occludes. If social schism goes up and casts a permanent pall of violence, latent or in intermittent, explosive action, the economy can no longer prosper. Sri Lanka is living proof.

The country has had enviable levels of social development and should have been the leading nation of South Asia, but has lost more than three decades to a Buddhist chauvinism-induced revolt of its 15% Tamil minority. The Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens combination and other gentle ministrations aimed at India’s Muslim minority promise to shred social cohesion, without which sustained prosperity is difficult.

Education. In a period of rapid technological change, the idea of teaching schoolkids skills is tomfoolery. Skills get obsolete with technology. The auto component industry of Pune, Manesar, Hosur and Coimbatore will die when electric motors replace the internal combustion engine. ITI diplomas in automobile engineering will be worth zilch. Children must learn to learn throughout their lives. Learn they are heirs to the entirety of human knowledge — from how to make fire, how to fuse two atoms of hydrogen to produce energy, and quantum computing to understanding evil and why some music and some fashion work while others don’t.

How can India’s most precious resource, its crores of children, adolescents and young adults, be actually educated, taught to be lifelong learners, instead of being merely sent to school and a free meal? It is a tough challenge, essentially because of the politics in which education, schools and teachers are embedded, but must be addressed.

How do we make healthcare an effective, pooled and pre-paid part of everyday life, rather than a calamity that throws an afflicted family into the jaws of poverty? Building a political economy around insurance is the wrong way to go about it. That is the route the US took, to end up spending 18% of GDP on healthcare, to get the same results as Europe that spends half as much. Government spending on public health is just 1% of GDP in India. How to spend scarce tax rupees on healthcare must be thought through.

Healthcare and social security in general can no longer be the responsibility of a single department or ministry. Clean water and air, without which good health is not possible, depend on cropping practices, industr

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