THE crime rate in the cities is on the rise. They blame it on unemployment. Unemployed youth is the devils workshop as he does not have anything productive to be engaged in. On the other hand they have dreams of earning fast money. In search of short cuts to hard cash they inevitably land in some kind of crime racket. This is revealed in the interrogation of suspects of numerous crimes ranging from petty thefts to murder. One of the astonishing facts is that most of these young first time criminals are either well educated or students. So it is not lack of education that is the cause of this perversion of mind. It is much deeper.
The aim of education in modern Bharat has become employment. It is official now. Job-oriented education has been the goal of our national educational policy for more than three decades. It is debatable whether we have achieved any tangible success in employment generation through continuously increasing spread of education. But we have definitely succeeded in making employment a national goal of our young generation.
Everybody is in search of a job. While choosing the course of study only consideration is the employability of the graduates of that course. The higher the job guarantee higher the demand for admission in the course. Packages offered and placements achieved are the prime factors in the propaganda material of the so-called professional educational institutes. It seems the whole country is striving to become an employee. There is no urge on the part of students and encouragement on the part of family, society or government to be entrepreneurs.
Starting any business is considered risky. Those trained to be engineers are not confident enough to start a small manufacturing unit. This lack of risk, hard work and productivity is the cause of moral degradation of the young generation. Jobs are considered safer; government service is the safest bet hence we see a beeline of aspirants for these vacancies. When a requirement for peon is advertised, thousands of youth apply. Most of them are over qualified. Even for the civil service exams the aspirants are out of proportion to the number of vacancies. More than a hundred thousand appear for the six hundred odd seats in the civil services examination. What is more baffling is the number of professional graduates appearing in competitive exams. We find qualified medical doctors aspiring to become civil servants. One trained in the noblest of the professions lining up to be a government servant shows the pathology of the social psyche. When the brightest minds of the country aspire to become honorable slaves how can we expect the country to achieve real independence? Political freedom was gained in 1947 but real independence is yet to be achieved by Bharat. There is a need to start a nationwide movement for real independence. It has to be a multipronged effort. But most important basic ingredient will be independence of mind.
It is said that ‘Real education is one that liberates. (sa vidya yaa vimuktaye). This changes the whole paradigm. The aim of education does not remain bread earning but it becomes much higher. Education should be able to create confident, qualified, developed personality. For such a well-accomplished person earning livelihood will be the easiest thing. Then he will not be compelled to choose most available source of employment but would create opportunities of his own liking. He will aspire to achieve rather than just earn. He/ she will choose the path according to their own inner core and work hard to realize their dreams.
It is estimated that Bharat will have largest population of employable youth in imminent future. The greatest challenge for the policy-makers is to take full advantage of this demographic dividend. If not, this will become an unbearable burden for the country. The ancient nation with the youngest population needs a fundamental shift in approach towards economics, development and most crucially towards education. No nation can productively use youth to the tune of 65 crore if it encourages them to be employees only. If large number of these youth are going to depend on private or government jobs for their survival we are looking at a disaster in waiting. A more pragmatic approach suitable to conditions of the country will be to promote our younger generation to become employers rather than employees. ‘Don’t be Job seeker be a Job giver’ should be the motto of higher education in Bharat.
Self-employment in all sectors needs to be given highest incentive. ‘Small is beautiful’ should be the theme. Small should become more profitable. Decentralized economic vibrancy can be achieved if the youth are motivated to think creatively and be productive. They should be equipped by education to be economically independent. Rather than focusing of urbanization of the rural population we must create economic opportunities in the remote areas. Agriculture in Bharat has been traditionally the largest bread earner. More than 60% of our agricultural land holdings are small and medium farmers. We must strengthen these. Farming must be made a profitable economic activity. Many well educated youth are doing experiments in organic farming. These experiments need to be encouraged and replicated all over the country.
This does not need government patronage. A social movement is what is necessary. Let the society take lead. A self employed person needs to be given more respect. Social mindset has to be groomed. We have to create icons out of youth engaged in productive activity on their own. A petty hawker selling vegetables earns to the tune of 1000 to 2000 Rs. per day in the metros. He needs to be given more respect than a government employee earning 20000 Rs. per month. These self employed youth should be felicitated by the society. They should be presented before the youth in the colleges as icons.
National skill development corporation was formed with the aim to promote, train and recognize skills for encouraging self-employment. It has remained another government initiative. Tens of thousands of crore rupees in the budget of NSDC lapsed for the lack of projects. To make skill development successful it must become a social movement. Youth aspiring to be self employed should be backed by society. Capital generation through micro investment and co-operative movement is another step which will complement the young entrepreneurship movement.
There are many more steps that are needed to be taken. But the most urgent is the change of attitude. Education is the tool for attitudinal correction. The aim of education should be gain knowledge to be able to stand on our own feet. Educated youth should have self esteem. They must be able to apply their knowledge with pride in their own field of interest. Earning then becomes but a by-product in the creative life of contribution. Let us build a society based on these values. A self reliant society is the pre-requisite for a really sovereign, independent and prosperous nation.
Let as all proclaim to our youth. ‘Do not be a Job-seeker Be a Job-giver’ – Be the change that you want to bring.
(The writer is joint organising secretary of Bharatiya Sikshan Mandl and can be contacted at [email protected])