re-inventing higher education – rationalize the duration of programs

an undergraduate program in commerce takes at least 3 years, for engineering degree, one has to give at least 4 years and so on. whenever we talk of reforming education, the debate revolves around making education more skill-oriented and advanced in view of the prevailing industrial landscape. do we ever deliberate over re-thinking the duration of programs? no because we are now used to think that an undergrad degree needs a minimum 3 years commitment. but ask yourself. being a degree holder in some discipline you too have spent at least 3 years in learning the advanced aspects of some domain, say law, commerce or engineering. but what if the institution ran only a 1-year specialized program instead of 3 years, the successful completion of which would have secured you the degree? isn’t the argument sustainable? the rationale here is access to information has evolved in past few years. today, learners do not have to rely on classroom sessions for

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improving administration in india

most failures, whether more than 30 percent of population below the poverty line or rampant corruption in public services, can be attributed to poor administration. here we need to know that administration is not governance, which involves policy actions and legislative tasks, and it is the liability of civil servants, not politicians. thus, the salaried employees of the state, with fixed jobs and perks, are answerable for misadministration and implementation lapses. the constitution talks of all-india services, the personnel for which are hired through competitive exams conducted by upsc. an ias acts as the topmost functionary in the area under her jurisdiction, an ips heads the police department and so on. isn’t it then reasonable to hold these heads of different departments accountable for any lapse in services? indian bureaucracy is, time and again, regarded as red tape and the only task they are hired for – implementation of government policies and schemes and overall administration – still awaits their

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answer to india’s financial distress is ‘wage restraint’

wage restraint as a policy action can be traced back to germany, a european country that has trumped china (the so-called ‘factory of the world’) in terms of positive balance of trade. germany is a net exporter and its economy is one of the most stable and commanding. the edge was attained on the back of curbing any imprudent rise in wages of the working class. on the contrary, asia’s third largest economy, india, never cared about the rising government bill on account of salaries.central government employees or those of state governments or public sector undertakings, including banking companies, are paid salaries that are not proportionate either to their labour or to the financial capability of the employer. why do we have a current account deficit? simple, our exports are less and we import more. let us go in some detail. since our wages are high our exports become expensive than those by other countries where wage restraint is exercised.

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instrument to end npa crisis – ‘irreversible debit order’

country’s banking system is reeling under non-performing assets and a solution is being sought by way of forced bankruptcy, takeover of management and rulings by national company law tribunal. this basically means that the disease is being cured after it has managed to inflict irrevocable damage. a simple tool, in the form of ‘irreversible debit order’, can however bring an end to this by immunizing banking companies against loan defaults. an ‘irreversible debit order’ or ‘ido’ can work as an instrument of repayment of debt facility availed by the borrowing entity from the lender. in the present setup, the borrower, who either pays through cash/ cheque or an instruction in form of automatic monthly debits from bank account toward repayment schedule, has an upper hand. the borrower can either choose not to make the cash/ cheque payment on the pre-decided date or he can instruct his bank to not allow further automatic debits from his/ company’s account toward loan repayment.

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institutionalisation of higher education failed us

question is simple, ‘why do we need a multi-year program for engineering, management or like streams?’. most of the lessons imparted to students in these programs comprise of already established formulas and techniques. consider this – a school pass-out would give most crucial years of her learning and development phase to a program that in the end will certify her knowledge of methods that were invented long ago. the same stint could have been utilized in furthering the child’s ability to formulate novel techniques that can replace the obsolete ones, for we have near-fully exploited them to their usefulness. even when you need someone to possess this knowledge and employ it in the same manner as done over decades and centuries, a few months on-the-job training is enough. the global economy is awaiting innovations that can drive growth for coming centuries. the setback is that people from whom these inventions are awaited are pursuing rather irrelevant goals – learning mathematical,

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why the world economy stagnated

only two events are responsible for where we stand today, agrarian advancement that allowed non-agri populace become manufacturers and traders, and industrial revolution that increased availability of goods for which people worked to satisfy their wants. these two had a long-lasting impact on world economy, the rest, of which digital revolution is a part are only flashy successes. other factors included competition which kept prices in check, allowed employment growth and fortified the supply side, thus keeping the demand side in continuous motion; innovation that was real such as invention of motorized vehicles, telephones and consumer electronics, which tempted buyers who could only make purchases by lending their labour. in the past few decades, the world economy grew on the strength of services sector including banking, communication and information technology. and this is where we made mistake. consider each of this and you will notice that these aspects only compliment manufacturing, banks enable credit for business growth, communication and information

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implementation gaps are undermining reforms

government’s reformist stance is appreciable and is set to usher in much-needed changes in the economy. but be it the denotification of higher currency notes or country’s shift from multiple indirect levies to goods and services tax, almost every policy decision fell short of realizing its real and desired outcome. demonetisation was targeted at checking corruption and black money, but bankers made fortunes out of this exercise. reason – the agency that planned the execution of this decision could not anticipate corruption by one of the implementing hands, the banks. not only notes were exchanged on fake identification documents, atm queues and misbehavior at branches added to the woes of already panicked currency holders. demonetisation was the first policy action that separated the present dispensation from former governments as this was not only a bold transformation, it also was greeted with cheer from the public at large; however the push behind this wide acceptance was related more with modi’s god-like

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the lost gst opportunity – ‘job creation’

goods and services tax is being hailed as the most far-reaching tax reform ever in independent india. gst will curb ambiguity in indirect taxation, will ease compliance and can augment tax collection of the government, all agreed. but has gst delivered on the front that is all more critical than these, did the government factor in  job creation while planning for gst roll out? in bits they did. they foresaw automatic creation of jobs once the tax reform comes into play, for businesses will need tax consultants to understand the new complexities and to steer clear of penalties for wrong/ delayed filings. but what the government did was to leave it to the market forces for creation of new jobs, and this is where they made a blunder. in a recent letter to chartered accountants across india, pm modi has requested for their cooperation in honest and effective implementation of gst. this is where the problem lies. the already well-off

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enough is enough, stop the bloodbath

it’s clear in the supreme law of the land, the constitution; we are here to protect minorities, depressed and the vulnerable, all freedoms, rights are a common lot, privilege does not exist for any individual, group and can never find its way in the social fabric through political propaganda. why then religious minority in the country is being mobbed, lynched with such impunity? inside their homes, on trains and in streets, amidst full public view, muslims are being taunted, assaulted, tortured, murdered, and there seems no honest endeavor by the protectors, our legislators and law enforcement agencies, to place a lid on these catastrophic events. there is no uncertainty that india is better placed on many parameters, the poor is being allocated cooking gas connections and legislations are being passed for overhaul of the economy. but can all this overshadow recurrent bitter incidents of minority religion being targeted by vigilantes and ultra-nationalists? it is quite clear that the ruling political

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what about leaders of tomorrow, what after modi?

we are better placed today than yesterday; undeniably, economy is improving, business sentiments are positive, but are we scoring equally good on impartiality, inclusiveness and transparency? gst, demonetisation, unearthing the black money are all short-term spectacles for a country that needs to overcome ages-old curse of inequality in income distribution and the deep-rooted disparity in living standards. this seems all more problematic when one looks beyond 10 years and does not find a capable leader to take over the reins from the present ones. no political party in india can even falsely boast of being indisputably clean when it comes to corruption and misuse of power in polity; and that’s the challenge for pm modi. while the public sentiment is heavily tilted toward the bharatiya janata party, owing to the acceptance of pm modi as pro-transparency, pro-poor and anti-dynasty ruler, what after him? what after 2024? is the prime minister readying a new line of defense against politicians eying opportunities

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