Make in India faces twin challenges of attitude and skills

Prime minister is determined for a change but ground realities are daunting


Prahlad Rao | December 30, 2014 | New Delhi

Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign got another push on Monday with a determined prime minister declaring that "if we have to change laws, we are ready. If we have to change rules, we are ready. If we have to change the system, we are ready."

But Modi faces twin challenges of attitude and lack of skills.

Addressing his cabinet colleagues, a battery of secretaries and industrialists at workshop on Make in India, he said "government is generally trapped in 'ABCD' culture from top to bottom.... A means Avoid, B-Bypass, C-Confuse, D-Delay. Our effort is to move from this culture to 'ROAD' where R stands for Responsibility, O-Ownership, A-Accountability, D-Discipline. We are committed to moving towards this roadmap,"

To bring a shift in bureaucratic process and its attitude a relentless campaign is needed. Modi said one of his main goals was to break down silos in government so that synergies and cooperation becomes a habit.

"We want maximum movement of men, money, machinery, materials and minerals across the country," he said, coining another acronym.

However, one can force change of attitude to achieve results. But it is difficult to impart skills to people notwithstanding new slogans of commitment.  .

The government has a goal to provide at least some skills to 500 million people by 2022. The demand for skilled labour is never satisfied and India has never has had sustained policy on skill development, especially among the youth. And it is the youth that Modi is looking at to change India. Modi is depending on young people to realise his dream of transforming India.

India has few skilled labourers due to decades of neglect in training. India needs electricians, bricklayers and plumbers. According to the government data itself India only has 3.5 million workers undergoing skills courses every year, compared with 90 million in China.

The prime minister has touched the issue of skill development. He had pitched for a programme that will make it easier for employers to hire apprentices for two years.

But experts feel that India needs to improve the quality of industrial training institutes and revise engineering courses to produce employable graduates. Infosys founder N R Narayana Murty had said few years back that the quality of students entering IITs has deteriorated over the years due to coaching classes that prepare engineering aspirants.

Earlier this year, an assessment of one lakh students on various skills had found that only 34% were employable. The assessment was carried out by Wheebox, an online assessment firm, and tested the students across 28 states and Union Territories on their numerical and logical ability, communications and domain knowledge.

"This means two-thirds of our skill pool is not fit to have a job," the National Skill Report 2014 prepared by CII, People Strong and Wheebox had said in its alarming conclusion. It stressed on the urgent need to focus on the crucial area of creating jobs and the right skills to add to economic growth. The survey had found that the maximum percentage of employable skill was available in pharmacy,  engineering, ITI, MCA and MBA.




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