Let’s Celebrate The Spirit Of Democracy Through Inclusive Education

History has been witness to the fact that there is a direct correlation between advancement of education, which includes scientific and philosophical prowess, with the prominence that a nation enjoys in the global geopolitical landscape.

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India is the world’s largest democracy. The Indian race is vibrant and just like the Indian signature curry, which is gaining popularity all over the world because of its unique blend of fragrant spices, tickles taste buds across the globe, its strength lies in the colourful plurality that it offers, in terms of the diverse categories of people who proudly reside in the country. However, such diversity comes accompanied by a greater social responsibility of taking everybody along in the developmental journey.

History has been witness to the fact that there is a direct correlation between advancement of education, which includes scientific and philosophical prowess, with the prominence that a nation enjoys in the global geopolitical landscape. The root cause behind the domination of European colonial powers centuries ago, or the modern “Global Sarpanch” role of the U.S.A. can be attributed primarily to their respective leadership in scientific research and higher education. This knowledge disparity that worked to their advantage happened because of the unparalleled excellence achieved by their respective academic institutions, which helped them stay ahead of the pack by establishing unquestionable thought leadership in different areas.

Everyone needs to acknowledge the fact that there is no substitute for quality education in the development of a nation. It acts as a window to a larger world and it helps an individual to identify her or his own strengths and development needs, which in turn enables her or him to contribute more effectively towards society at large.

Today, hierarchically, the developed nations show a greater propensity towards Research and Development resulting in multibillion-dollar patents, which helps them secure and maintain their image as “think tanks for the human race”. They do this ground-up, by establishing an education system that continuously works towards building a positive knowledge disparity with the rest of the world. The resulting infrastructure often leads to ‘brain-drain’ from other emerging economies. Countries like China and India are expected to contribute by running the factories and back offices of global conglomerates, while themselves suffering from a sub-optimal rate of growth resulting from the mass exodus of top talent to other developed countries. Thus, there has developed, a clear bifurcation of roles. Put blatantly, it is quality vs quantity, and the chasm only keeps widening with the passage of time.

The challenges the people face in trying to reverse this phenomenon are numerous. At the fundamental level, there is a challenge in terms of breaking the geographical and economic barriers to access by providing qualitatively superior and more engaging education uniformly through the length and breadth of the country. This is where private entrepreneurial spirit and innovation need to join hands with public infrastructure and political will. Massive open online courses and knowledge repositories are the need of the day. Why should knowledge be restricted to a handful? These will help in skill development and the creation of a more employable workforce.

The Indian society poses to itself a question: “How do we create a better tomorrow?"

Any verbal rhetoric and empty slogan-mongering during election campaigns will not be agents of change. Change has to be affected ground-up –working collectively, systematically, continuously towards this as a common national goal, with conviction, in order to achieve it. This will ensure widening of the talent base beyond the urban centres and also lead to a generation of citizens with greater respect for the law, stronger civic sensibilities, and a better informed electoral college which will strengthen India’s democratic structure in the days to come.

In terms of higher studies, India has a very low GER (Gross enrollment ratio) which hovers around the 25% mark and is less than half of other countries like the U.S.A. and Australia. This also needs to be improved by strengthening the existing academic structures. It is high time that we cease to continue as the preferred supplier of high-quality, educated manpower to the entire world and take steps to first put our own house in order, develop our own nation, by taking effective steps to retain talent. The next batch of bright young graduates needs to believe in the tremendous untapped opportunity that the country offers.

The collective academia has a responsibility in this regard. They have been unsuccessful in attracting and retaining top talent, generally seen as a fall-back option after the Corporate options. This trend needs to be reversed. We need visionaries and leaders who have the ability to look beyond today’s operating needs and prioritise tomorrow’s strategic needs for nation-building.

India is the world’s largest democracy. Once it can enable universal access to high-quality education, we shall also be the world’s greatest democracy.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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