Demographic divident to demographic wasteland

GS Paper III

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Human Resources

Mains: Importance of universities and education

What’s the News?

We speak of creating a $5-trillion economy by taking advantage of our demographic dividend. But if our universities become war zones rather than sacred sanctuaries of learning, we don’t build human capital. We make carcasses of the hopes of our students.

Demographic divident to demographic wasteland:

  • Just as the psychological burdens of poverty and hardship narrow cognitive bandwidth, the psychological burdens of violence on students could impair their capabilities and turn the demographic dividend into a demographic wasteland.
  • Indeed, since building human capital, maintaining social peace and creating strong institutions are key determinants of long-run development; recent actions triply undermine achieving sabka saath, sabka vikas.
  • Universities make students good citizens of society.
  • Universities nurture intellectuals who can provide an independent, credible voice in evaluating governments, legislatures, or the judiciary.
  • This role is essential in a political democracy.
  • The spread of education in society is at the foundation of success in countries that are latecomers to development. In this process, universities provide the cutting edge of creativity and innovation in advancing knowledge and technology.
  • If universities are turned into straitjacketed homogenized teaching shops that stifle independent thinking, it will only deprive young people of opportunities to learn and mortgage the future of the nation.

Students concerns:

  • Whenever society has called for a change, it is the student community that has emerged as the crusader.
  • Students are being attacked for exercising their right of expression, their right to articulate their concerns and opinions about a set of measures they fear might consign many Indians to second-class citizenship.
  • Regardless of their fears being exaggerated or misplaced, they must be heard and their concerns should be addressed.

Way forward:

  • The assault on public universities in India is senseless and self-destructive. It will impose an unimaginable cost on our society in the long term.
  • For those who rule, it will not be without political consequences. There are already widespread protests by university students across India.
  • Over time, governments everywhere have learnt that the anger or wrath of students is something that even authoritarian regimes cannot afford. India is a vibrant political democracy.
  • It is bad enough that our higher education system has routinely been failing our youth. It is bad enough too that their prospects of getting decent, well-paying jobs are becoming grimmer.
  • To heap violence and physical and psychological insecurity only adds more hopelessness to their educational years and to their sense of the future that awaits them.
  • These young, our college students, need to be nurtured, educated, and equipped to build the wealth and future that we want for our country.