September 27, 2010
The CWG games (or rather what is lacking in it) is the talk of the country and perhaps some parts of the globe. These are times when many optimists begin to question whether India will have a bright future? Will we ever have good governance or are we living in a country which will never be able to catch up?
Some have suggested the boycott of the games, while some suggest that the negative media coverage is not just journalistic. At the end of it all, the country has lost its credibility. At 1 AD India contributed to almost 33% of the global economy and probably did not have issues of credibility. So how fast is India going to wake up to regain our glorious past?
Take for instance skill development, an area that I am getting to understand in my current role. India, the world’s youngest economy may not be able to capitalize on its strength if not for skill development. An unprecedented 500mn would have to be employed in the organized and unorganized sector over the next 10-15 years. McKinsey discovered that about 90% of the Indian population drops out before the higher education stage.
In the absence of an all encompassing education system that changes these dynamics fundamentally, these drop outs need to be trained so that they can become employable. Unless these segments of people acquire the appropriate skills and capacities for relevant jobs, they will not be able to increase their income and they run the risk of remaining at the bottom of the pyramid. The Government may claim that are hundreds of ITIs churning out trained youth, but the industry knows the reality. India has the capacity to train only about 3.1mn youth and moreover this training capacity focuses more on the organised sector rather than the unorganised sector i.e. domestic servants, carpenters, handicraft workers etc.
Many private players, such as Bharti are trying to tackle this problem because it is a huge business opportunity. But, can private players alone create the change? How fast can we make our politicians wake up? Some solutions are being experimented – e.g. injecting better leadership into the political system, each one of us doing our bit to fight corruption. I don’t have answers but sincerely hope that we do find them.
Many believe that Demographic Dividend is an opportunity for India however; it could become a big risk as we have seen in the case of CWG. The numbers are staggering and a lot has to be done. The time is right and we all need to act towards achieving this goal, before it’s too late to salvage and before we can hear “Game Over”.