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STARTUP DIARIES – PART-7: EDUCATION AND THE CULTURE OF INNOVATION

Public figures from the Business world here take the shape of Crony capitalists and as seen during the Congress regime, are prone to hooking with corrupt politicians to extract undue favors from them and hence perpetuate their rule over their business empire. Since vestiges of Socialism still fetter in the system, they are sometimes able to blackmail Governments to bail them out citing social backlash with job layoffs. Inefficient, monolith firms keep on running with no change in Management since Government dissuades hostile takeovers. Folding up a business in India is also tough with myriad closure norms, most of which are impossible to conform to.

Western Governments also give massive benefits for innovation in the form of iron-clad IP (Intellectual Property) laws. India’s IP laws are, by contrast, lax and difficult to be legally enforced in their entirety. Then, in some sectors like Pharmaceuticals, India only allows process-driven patents and not product patents, and promotes generic rather than branded drugs, to keep healthcare costs low for a large part of the population which has affordability issues.

The most striking reason for India being a laggard is its outdated education system. To give an example, per latest studies, only 8% of India’s Engineers are employable, once they graduate from College! Indian parents are mad after education, the students have the right grounding, it is also promoted vigorously by Private companies but reality is, the system is a rotten one. Demotivated, lowly paid teachers, who find education profession as the last resort for money making; a syllabus which doesn’t teach students to have a high self-esteem on glorious achievements of their country, photocopied study material from Western curricula and presence of not-for-profit (only on paper) Societies and Trusts, which don’t form a market economy. Businessmen who manage to lay their hands on land and have deep pockets to construct necessary infrastructure, who mostly lord over the Education Empire in India.

Western education system is highly capitalist in its construct – a robust Defense-Industrial complex is in partnership with Private Universities, which ensures access to such cutting-edge technologies, which could have been only be developed without botheration of problems such as unending access to research monies.

The excellent US education system entails entrance to Colleges by weightage given as: 25% communication & stage presence, 25% sports and 50% academic performance. Just why is Indian education system giving 100% weightage to academics? If Indian system were to be changed to US system of 25:25:50; then with time, schools will start making systems for grooming of students in personality, sports, communications and so on. Sure, this small administrative order can be issued by the Government!

India also needs to move stress from obtaining degrees/ certificates to getting people to learn skills – While Skill India is welcome, but student’s skills need to be physically tested rather than checking answer sheets, which result in rote system. So, amongst the 50% academic weightage too, practical skill testing has to be done.

One of the biggest reasons why the monstrous market potential in India remains untapped is that the schooling so far in the country is English specific – Think about this – Most middle and lower class sends their wards to Government School – no person who can afford Private Schools, sends his children to Government Schools – The generations coming out of Government Schools is poor in English. But can anyone say that they don’t carry necessary IQ (Intelligence Quotient), EQ (Emotional Quotient) or SQ (Social Quotient)? But what happens to them in their career – Automatic Apartheid! No Private company considers them since they lack English proficiency. And they end up becoming clerks or enroll in some petty jobs!

India’s treatment of these own citizens is one of a kind worldwide and in direct contrast to peer emerging economies like China, Russia, Brazil, Germany, Japan etc, which have grown on back of their own languages by tapping the resource mass in Villages. Many would have observed while taking interviews – one finds candidates who lack substance but try to show off their English! – Such useless attitudes have been built over the years by us Indians only by treating English speakers as superior to vernacular language speakers! Just look at the vernacular social media, mainstream media market or the local language software market in India – its languishing! And the vernacular speakers are in the rut too, and sadly lagging behind on most indicators! How far can local language markets develop, depends on Government action on this politically sensitive issue.

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