Address by Governor at the Valedictory Session of the International Conference for Development Discourse in Hyderabad
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Valedictory Session of the International Conference for Development Discourse organized by the Research for Resurgence Foundation at National Institute of Nutrition, Tarnaka, Hyderabad at 1530 hrs on Sunday, 10th February 2019
Dr Arvind Joshi, Secretary, Research for Resurgence Foundation, Shri Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, Prof Suresh Kumar, VC, English and Foreign Language, Dr Rajesh Biniwale, Convenor, Research for Resurgence Foundation, Dr Appa Rao Podile, Vice Chancellor, University of Hyderabad, Dr Hemalata, Director, National Institute of Nutrition, distinguished delegates, invitees, ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset I extend my heartiest congratulations and felicitations to the Research for Resurgence Foundation and the University of Hyderabad for organizing this 3 – day International Conference for Development Discourse and thereby bringing about an enlightened discussion on various issues of concerning the development of the nation.
I was pleased to note that the Research for Resurgence (RFR) Foundation, initiated by the Bharatiya Sikshan Mandal, was conceived and founded by a team of researchers, academicians and policy makers for conceiving Indian approach with scientific vision to find out solution to many of our persisting developmental issues.
The Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal has been for the last 50 years spreading value based education and reaching out to school teachers.
Like the mythological Samudra Manthan, which produced several gems and finally the nectar or Amruta, I wish and hope that the organizers of the Conference will come up with several practical recommendations for achieving the much desired goals of Samriddhi, Abhyudaya and Antyodaya. I am confident that the recommendations emerging from this meeting of minds will be found useful by governments, planners and policymakers. I expect the organizers to send me a copy of the proceedings of this brainstorming meeting.
The subject of holistic development is vast and varied. But I intend to touch upon a few during the next few minutes.
The first and foremost subject, which according to me, requires our attention is education.
Since attaining Independence in the year 1947, India has made tremendous gains in terms of socio- economic development. Among the important gains for India, have been universalization of education, literacy and achieving self-sufficiency in food production.
The average life expectancy in India which was about 40 years at the time of India has gone up to 70 years. India’s literacy rate was just about 12 per cent. Today the literacy rate of India is approaching 80 per cent, which is truly remarkable.
Our progress in the field of universalization of healthcare, medicine, Information Communication Technology, Space Research, Nuclear Science and many other areas have improved the quality of life of the majority of our people.
However and having said that, there are many obstacles and impediments in the path of our progress and inclusive development. We need to identify and remove the impediments in order to reclaim our glory as a Vishwa Guru.
The beginning of transforming India has to be made from education. I am firmly of the view that we need an education system that will be Indian in approach and global in outlook. We urgently need an education system that will encourage the spirit of enquiry, innovation and enterprise.
The British have left India 72 years ago. But we are holding on to an outdated education system designed by them with different goals and intentions.
During my visits to institutions of science and technology, I often cite the example of Bhaskaracharya.
Bhaskaracharya was the first in the world to calculate accurately the time taken for the Earth to orbit the Sun, as 365.2588 days. Indians gave the world the concept of zero. We gave the world Yoga, we gave the world Ayurveda.
We must accept and acknowledge that the present education system is not producing thinkers and thought-leaders any more. During the last 100 years, Indian scientists secured Nobel Prizes. But they were attached to foreign universities.
Except for an IIT and Indian Institute of Science, our institutions of higher education do not feature among the top 200 institutions in the world. Institutions like IITs and IIMs and Indian Institutes of Science stand out as oasis in the midst of an ocean of ordinary, run-of-the-mill and substandard institutions. Clearly our higher education system is heading for a disaster.
We certainly need revolutionary changes in the field of education, beginning with our school education.
I had mentioned that we have achieved a literacy rate of almost 80 per cent. However in terms of quality of education and actual results, the figure is superficial.
The Annual Status of Education Report 2018 prepared by an NGO found that 56 per cent of students in class VIII can’t divide a 3 – digit number with a single digit one; 72 per cent in students in Class V can’t do division at all and 70 per cent of class of class III students are not able to do any calculation.
In the famous or rather notorious “Macaulay Minute” of 1835, Thomas Macaulay supported the replacement of Persian by English as the official language, the use of English as the medium of instruction in all schools, and the training of English-speaking Indians as teachers. In the long run, this decision led to the systematic wiping out of traditional and ancient Indian education and vocational systems and sciences.
Today the quality of education in our higher education system is heading towards the bottom.
In order to show you, to what extent, the quality of education has deteriorated, let me cite the findings of a survey.
According to a survey conducted by TCS, the Mathematical and problem solving abilities of the average 21 – year old Engineering Graduate in India was actually lower than the average 15 – year old in OECD countries. (OECD – Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development)
It was found that our children study only from the point of the examination. Our entire education system has become an examination-oriented system. There are rewards for learning by rote. No rewards for curiosity and the spirit of enquiry.
We want a system that will lay focus on lifelong learning, problem – solving skills, creativity and meta cognitive skills.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Absence of the element of skills in our education system is resulting in the creation of an army of educated unemployed in the country.
In his book ‘The Clash of Civilizations’ the author Samuel Huntington writes that in the year 1750, India’s share in the global manufacturing output was 24.5 per cent. This share came down to less that 2 to 3 per cent by the time we became independent in the year 1947.
India was a leader in textiles in the world. We were far ahead of others in metallurgy, architecture and many other areas. Such was our learning system that every single soul was a skilled individual. That system was destroyed since the introduction of Macaulay’s system of education. Even though, we have identified the disease, we are not curing it.
According to great American friend of India, J T Sunderland, “India was a far greater industrial and manufacturing nation than any in Europe, or than any other in Asia. Her textile goods – the fine products of her looms, in cotton, wool, linen and silk – were famous all over the civilized world. So were her exquisite jewelry and her precious stones. So were her pottery, porcelains, ceramics of every kind, quality, colour and beautiful shape; so were her fine works in metal – iron, steel, silver and gold. India had great architecture and great engineering works. She had great merchants, great businessmen, great bankers and financiers. Not only was India the greatest ship building nation, but she had great commerce and trade by land and sea, which extended to all known civilized countries. Such was the India which the British found when they came.” (Unquote).
Two clear facts emerge from the above. Number One. India was a super-skilled nation in the world. Number Two. We were leaders in the manufacturing sector because our people were highly skilled and had an enterprising spirit.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi has launched two ambitious programme, namely Skill India Mission and Start Up India, Stand Up India to promote skill development and boost the spirit of enterprise and innovation. We need more progress on both fronts.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For several years, we have denied women their legitimate place in the developmental process.
While women have been guaranteed political empowerment, women have to struggle a lot in claiming their space in the developmental discourse.
As Chancellor of Universities in the State, I often attend Convocation Ceremonies across universities in Maharashtra. In almost all universities, it is the girl students who take away the maximum number of gold medals.
Last month, I was presiding over the Convocation Ceremony of the University of Mumbai along with a Nobel laureate from United Kingdom. Of the 52 gold medals given away at the Convocation Ceremony to students, a record 46 gold medals were won by girl students !! Which means 88 per cent gold medals were won by girl students.
However, when it comes to job market, women are distinctly missing. We need to create a more enabling atmosphere for women to participate in all gainful economic activity to achieve the goal of inclusive development.
A survey conducted by an American think tank covering 22000 publicly-traded companies in over 91 countries, showed that companies employing 30 percent and more female executives earn more profits. So it makes sound economic sense to employ more women.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For the greater part of history, India had rich, prosperous and strong villages. The pyramid was reversed during the long spell of foreign domination.
The development and progress of India is inextricably linked with the progress and development of the villages of India.
It was the vision of Mahatma Gandhi that every village becomes a Panchayat having full powers. He dreamt of our villages becoming financially self-sustained small republics that were capable of managing their affairs.
The concept of local self government in India is very old. However, it declined under the Mughal rule. The system further deteriorated under the British period. However, the British revived the system once again as they found that it was best suited for revenue collection.
Restoration of panchayats to their pristine glory has been an article of faith during our freedom struggle. Hence with the dawn of independence and framing of the constitution of India, Article 40 was incorporated in the constitution.
The article says: “The State should take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as the units of self Governments”
A democratic form of government must be sustained by a system of vigorous local self-government institutions. Local government institutions provide an opportunity to the people to participate freely and actively in the government which they formulate for their respective areas.
While inaugurating the first local self government minister’s conference in 1948, our late Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru said “Local government is and must be the basis of any true system of democracy. Democracy at the top may not be a success unless built on its foundation from below”.
The thinking about decentralization benefited from the deliberations of several committees, including the three chaired by Balwant Rai Mehta, Asoka Mehta, and L. M. Singhvi.
The 73rd Amendment was related to village local self-government and the 74th Amendment Act related to municipal local government were incorporated in the Constitution. With these provisions, the Panchayats were granted constitutional status.
The Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution gives the Panchayati Raj Institution control over 29 items such as land improvement, minor irrigation, animal husbandry, fishery, women and child development. However, many states have not devolved these powers to the panchayats.
Jayprakash Narayan was a staunch advocate of ‘direct democracy’ at village level. He had said and I quote “To me Gram Sabha signified village democracy. Let us not have only representative government form the village up to Delhi. At one place, at least there be direct government – direct democracy. The relationship between Panchayat and Gram Sabha should be that of Cabinet and Assembly.”
Ladies and gentlemen,
Even though India has become an independent nation in the year 1947 itself, many of our tribal villages are still to taste the fruits of development.
There is an urgent need to implement the provisions of the PESA Act in the Scheduled Areas.
In my capacity as Governor, we have taken a decision to provide 5 per cent of the Special Plan Funds or Tribal Sup Plan Funds directly to the Gram Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas. This decision of the Governor was applauded by the then President of India at the Conference of Governors held at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the year 2016.
We have also given the rights over minor forest produce like bamboo, honey, tendu leaves to the tribals. Rights have also been granted to Gram Sabhas over the fishing in minor water bodies. This has significantly improved the incomes of tribals in the Scheduled Areas.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To sum up my talk, I will reiterate my observations.
1.We need an Indian education system with a global outlook that will encourage the spirit of enquiry, innovation and enterprise.
2.We need renewed thrust on skill development, enterprise and innovation to make India economically strong.
3.To create a more enabling atmosphere for women to participate in all gainful economic activity to achieve the goal of inclusive development.
4.To strengthen the panchayati raj system to make our villages strong units of democracy.
5.To strive for the empowerment of Scheduled Areas.
With these words, I congratulate the University of Hyderabad and the Research for Resurgence Foundation for organizing this International Conference for Development Discourse. I wish and hope that such Vichar Manthans should be organized on a regular basis, as many ideas emerge from such discussions.
Thank you all>
Jai Hind ! Jai Telangana ! Jai Maharashtra !!