Educating India can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Especially at times like these when 30 per cent of the nation’s 1.25 billion population is below the age of 14, and nearly 50 per cent below the age of 25. No one has perhaps put it more romantically than the poet laureate William Butler Yeats who said “education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The great Nelson Mandela who knew a thing or two about transforming the lives of millions used to say that “education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” His nation, South Africa, is still on a learning curve, and so is India. That is why the task before India’s HRD Minister, Ms Smriti Zubin Irani, is infinitely challenging.
Known for aggressively pursuing excellence in her previous career, Ms Irani now has to find solutions to one of India’s biggest challenges—educating a very large and ambitious young Indian population that in today’s connected world wants results, not merely degrees and diplomas. Given that education is big business and there is a rapid mushrooming of private schools, colleges and polytechnics all over the country, the Minister needs to ensure that quality at all times is put at a premium, and never pushed into the back burner. Infrastructure, especially in cash-strapped public schools, is of great concern, and already a mark has been made with the completion of toilet blocks for girls in all Government schools across India. The ratio of public schools to private schools in India is 7:5. Ms Irani articulates her vision, policies and efforts in an interview with India Empire, and we have chosen to put it on our cover.
Mr Madhu Goud Yaskhi, a former Congress Lok Sabha MP, spent many years as an NRI in the USA from where he and his partners still operate a law firm. He was a member of the standing committee on the Ministry of External Affairs in Parliament. His views on India’s engagement policy with NRIs—which at the moment is in dire need of vigour, robustness and direction—are balanced, well thought out. We are carrying portions of his interview, the rest will be available on our website www.indiaempire.com
Do not miss out on our Country Segment where we look at engagement potentialities across continents. The Diaspora Section has many features, including a write up on Dr Nandini Tandon, visionary venture capitalist and entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley who this year was bestowed the UP Ratna Samman Award by UP Chief Minister Mr Akhilesh Yadav. Last year at Gandhinagar she was the recipient of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the Vice President of India. In 2014, she and her sister, Ms Priya Tandon, received the first two UP NRI cards from the state Government.
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