India 2020: Education, Education, Education
My argument is that the only way for India, and its ruling class, to escape the trap it has laid for itself is now to commit to the creation of an opportunity society. Though it may seem Utopian, there are examples in history where the ruling classes stepped back from the cliff edge with foresight and courage: India is at one such cliff edge moment. With the consensus of power-sharers breaking down, it may be possible that someone will now throw open the gate. The Congress Party, the main dynastic platform of Indian ruling class, have tried and failed to overcome its dependence on regional power-brokers and turn its focus on the villages to electoral success. However, it is not the content of the strategy - the focus on the rural poor - but how it was put in the context - at the expense of urban middle class aspirations - that may account for this failure. The public policy is not just about allocating resources, but to create a continuous stream of interventions so that the resource allocation at one end translate into prosperity for all, and by generating advancement, pay for itself in the long run. The narrow policy interventions, as in the belief in trickle-down effect in earlier generations and the trade-off between urban and rural job and opportunity creation as evidenced in recent policy, are both destined to have only limited policy impact. And, in a country like India, where the professional class is limited and its approach to polity is dominated by apathy and indifference, policies aimed at alleviating rural poverty without necessarily creating the infrastructure for job or opportunity creation, namely education and enterprise support, is destined to fail with a bang.
So, here is a slogan for the leaders in next Indian election due in 2014: education, Education, Education. Indeed, this may look like a direct copy from Tony Blair, but nonetheless, that's what the country needs and wants to hear. It is not just the middle class, but also the rural poor, who may have been given work and food, but was told to shy away from aspirations, who would want to hear the message. India's moving forward must come at the back of an education revolution, whose time has now decidedly come.