The Times has a piece on a familiar theme: lots of people are getting college educations in India that aren’t especially useful.
India was once divided chiefly by caste. Today, new criteria are creating a different divide: skills. Those with marketable skills are sought by a new economy of call centers and software houses; those without are ensnared in old, drudgelike jobs.
Unlike birthright, which determines caste, the skills in question are teachable: the ability to communicate crisply in clear English, to work with teams and deliver presentations, to use search engines like Google, to tear apart theories rather than memorize them. (link)
I know many readers will wince when the centrality of English is reinforced (especially by a western media outfit). And the idea that caste is now totally irrelevant seems far-fetched given the intensity of the current debate over reservations and the “creamy layer.” But Anand Giridharadas’s point isn’t so much the English language or the eradication of caste as methodology and ethos — and the fact that 17% of India’s college graduates are unemployed even as the top companies are desperate for talent. His examples of how to do it wrong are Hinduja College and Dahanukar College in Mumbai. In Giridharadas’s analysis, the problem at these colleges is the emphasis on things like obedience and punctuality, rote memorization, and the failure to inculcate the confidence amongst students to question authority.
It seems to me these are problems that could be fixed without overhauling the entire system. Leaving space for questions in a lecture is a start; guest-lecturers from industry might be another. If you agree with Girdharadas’s assessment of the problem, can you think of solutions that don’t involve waiting for the government to fix everything?