The Hindu : September 28, 2015 02:13 IST
The challenge of skills and jobs
The scale of the skilling challenge that India faces, and the urgency involved, have been palpable for some time, but new official data put into cold numbers the extent of the problem. Fewer than one in 10 adult Indians has had any form of vocational training, and even among those who have, the type of training is not the sort of formal skilling that employers seek – the majority had either acquired a hereditary skill or learned on the job. Just 2.2 per cent in all had received formal vocational training. In comparison, 75 per cent of the workforce in Germany and 80 per cent in Japan has received formal skills training. Even among the BRICS countries, India lags behind – nearly half the Chinese workforce, for example, is skilled. Very few Indians get a technical education in medicine, engineering or agriculture; fewer than one in ten Indians is a graduate, and among those who are graduates, the majority get undergraduate degrees in arts, science or commerce. The problem is more acute in rural areas and for women. Without access to affordable and appropriate skills training, young people, particularly those leaving rural areas and small towns for big cities, will be stuck in low-wage, insecure jobs that will leave them in want or poverty.
The Narendra Modi government has made skills and jobs one of its focus areas from the beginning of its term. In July, the Prime Minister launched an ambitious mission to impart skills training to 40 crore people by 2022, and the new government has a dedicated Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The problem is that the previous government talked the same talk on skills but was able to achieve precious little; the proportion of young adults who had received vocational training was virtually unchanged between 2004-05 and 2011-12. There isn't any clear evidence yet that the new government is charting out a radically new path on skills. There remain multiple decision-making authorities on skills and little clarity about who exactly will do the work. Promises of corporate and foreign partnerships on skilling are pouring in, but how these mass skilling programmes will take off is unclear. Employers complain that job-seekers do not have the skills they look for; there is little evidence yet that curricula with these objectives in mind have been designed, or that new and affordable training institutes have been set up on a mass scale. Job creation has not kept pace with India's demographic momentum, and that will in the coming days pose a problem for a skilled workforce. But let's not put the cart before the horse – a poorly trained young workforce can neither bring workers out of poverty nor help a country grow quickly.
#A cart is a vehicle which is ordinarily pulled by a horse, so to put the cart before the horse is an analogy for doing things in the wrong order. The figure of speech means doing things the wrong way round or with the wrong emphasis.
› so obvious that it can easily be seen or known, or (of a feeling) so strong that it seems as if it can be touched or physically felt:
a palpable effect
Her joy was palpable.
#lag noun (DELAY)
› a delay between two things happening:
You have to allow for a time lag between order and delivery.
lag noun [C] (PRISONER)
› UK old-fashioned informal a prisoner or a person who has often been a prisoner in the past:
an old lag
› to communicate information to someone:
to impart the bad news
I was rather quiet as I didn't feel I had much wisdom to impart on the subject.
› to give something a particular feeling, quality, or taste:
Preservatives can impart colour and flavour to a product.
#pour verb (LARGE AMOUNTS)
> to (cause to) flow quickly and in large amounts:
The bus was pouring out thick black exhaust fumes.
The government has been pouring money into inefficient state-owned industries, and the country can no longer afford it.
The Hindu: September 28, 2015 02:13 IST
The message from New York
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's takeaways from his ongoing visit to the United States are being keenly watched. His primary challenges in this phase relate to improving India's overall relationship with the U.S. while furthering his country's global ambitions. The decision, just hours before Mr. Modi boarded his flight, to clear defence purchases worth $3 billion from Boeing in many ways demonstrated the importance that New Delhi attaches to the state visit. Expectedly, the Prime Minister has vigorously pushed for the reform of the UN Security Council — in speeches at the UN and later at a multilateral summit. Mr. Modi's decision to host the summit of the Group of Four nations was one of the key moments of his diplomacy in New York. While backing one another's bid for permanent seats in the UNSC, India, Germany, Japan and Brazil have collectively called for urgent reforms of the Security Council within a time-frame. At another gathering, Mr. Modi invited U.S. companies to step up investments in India. The top-level participation of American companies at the meeting, pointed to the importance U.S. industry is giving India. Executives from 42 Fortune 500 companies, with a combined net worth of $4.5 trillion, were there.
While the overall message from New York is positive, the government has to work hard to bring to fruition the goodwill established: the task begins now. India's most important challenge here is to continue the campaign to reform the Security Council. Nothing much has come out of India's push over the years to restructure the global body. The challenge is to build a democratically evolved consensus among world powers, particularly among the Security Council members, on the need to reform the UNSC. Second, though American companies are keen to invest in India, they remain wary of "complicated regulations, confusing bureaucracy and poor infrastructure". If the government is serious about enhancing business and trade relations with the U.S. further, it should accelerate the pace of reforms at home and build quality infrastructure — of course making sure that its own long-term interests are not sacrificed or compromised. Third, bilateral relations between India and the U.S. have always been a tricky area for decision-makers. While defence cooperation has improved over the years, the failure to operationalise the nuclear deal, Washington's continuing support for Pakistan and reluctance to second major reforms at the UNSC are issues. Besides, the principle of a multilateral approach in India's foreign policy has not gone down well with the Washington elites. Mr. Modi ought to take up some of these issues when he meets Barack Obama on Monday. They should address them, so that what has often been termed a "natural alliance" could be firmed up to mutual advantage.
#takeaway noun (INFORMATION)
› [S] mainly US a main message or piece of information that you learn from something you hear or read:
The takeaway from the conference was how competitive the tourism industry has become.
› very forceful or energetic:
a vigorous debate
There has been vigorous opposition to the proposals for a new road.
> not completely trusting or certain about something or someone:
I'm a little wary of/about giving people my address when I don't know them very well.