Saturday, 10 June 2017

Make in India - a Boon for Indian Education System

The ‘Make in India’ initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that is aimed at transforming India into a manufacturing hub can prove to be relevant in the education sector too.  India is a huge reservoir of talent with the demographic dividend in its favour and have the highest number of scientists, doctors, engineers, businessmen and opportunities in the young age profile.

China and India as two powerful emerging economies are strengthening their business and trade ties for mutual benefit. Both countries hold ample opportunities that can be exploited in the best possible manner through ‘closer developmental partnership’. ‘Make in India’ is acting as an excellent facilitator in inviting potential partners and investors around the world. It has significantly attracted China, having vast foreign exchange reserves waiting to be deployed overseas to invest in India where the cost of capital is still relatively high.  

Economic development and enhancing human capabilities through higher education and skill development go hand in hand. In May 2016, Hon’ble President Shri Pranab Mukherjee witnessed the signing of MoUs between ten universities of India and China to create a “collaborative platform for academic cooperation in the areas of research and education, joint seminars and exchange of faculty and students”. The collaborative research projects with Chinese institutions could lead to better academic synergy apart from understanding of issues of mutual interest. The MoUs aim to bridge regional educational disparity in both countries and fill the knowledge gap.

Under the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, Chinese institutions are increasingly encouraged to go abroad in search of new investments and new opportunities. The recent London Times Higher Education Supplement ranking of the world's top 200 universities included three in China and one in India (an Indian Institute of Technology at number four, the specific campus was not specified).  Joshua Mok Ka-Ho, vice-president and Chair professor of comparative policy at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University says, “As a developmental state with a strong political will to do well globally, the Chinese regime will try every means to position the country and steer the resources from the whole nation to make sure some of their selected universities become globally leading”. China is building some research-based universities that are able to compete with the world's best institutions.

In his first class on 5 Nov 2014, after taking over as Honorary Professor at Peking University, former President Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam called for Sino-Indian joint space collaboration and interface between universities of the two countries on development themes. “I believe that the very act of universities of the world working together will be a major factor in better understanding of the different cultures and contribute significantly to the peace and prosperity of the world”, Dr Kalam said.

Many Chinese universities and industries have shown keen interest in the Prime Minister’s call, and have collaborated with Indian universities in recent times. We can name a few like, The Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar; MDI, Gurugram, The NorthCap University, Gurugram; Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Bangalore; Nalanda University Bihar and others. Such Indo-Chinese collaborations can bring revolutionary changes in the education system of both India and China. It can potentially eliminate the existing flaws of the Indian education system along with strengthening the education as well as economy of the country.

What benefits will the students get?

Knowledge exchange and technology transfer 
Both the countries are developing rapidly where technology transfer and knowledge sharing can act as a catalyst for development. The common goals can be achieved through co joint efforts. When two universities collaborate, it results in abundant knowledge sharing not only at the student level but the faculty too undergo new experiences. It assists in opting for the best academic practices and standards.

Excellent exposure via student exchange programmes 
 ‘Make in India’ in the education sector has called upon many Chinese universities that are offering student exchange programmes. It offers an extensive platform to students in terms of fostering greater intellectual and cultural exchanges that lead to better understanding between the two countries. This enhances the overall learning experience of the student that further adds to the overall grooming of the student.

Better scholarship opportunities for Indian students  
Collaborating with Chinese universities can further widen the scope of scholarships for Indian students making the migration smoother. The swift migration will not only open the door of employment opportunities for individuals but enhances the adaptability.

Increased employability through multidisciplinary skills  
The collaborations of Chinese industries with Indian universities will not only lead to knowledge sharing but also in imparting vocational skills which will definitely increase the employability of students. Industry academia collaboration will also provide access to industry environments for applied and problem based research activities. The industry will provide education, relevant skill training and certification and assessment support to the university. Indian students equipped with Chinese manufacturing skills will tend to be absorbed quickly by the Indian industry. 

Flexibility in courses and jobs 
Our education system is known to be rigid, generally following the conventional theoretical approach to learning. Collaborative programmes will encourage the Indian universities to adopt a more practical approach having flexibility in courses to meet the changing needs of the students. Generally students now-a-days prefer to work while getting their education for simultaneous industrial exposure.

To Sum up
India’s export earnings presently depend on a few sectors, like information technology, pharmaceuticals and specialized auto parts, but to match China in its range of manufacturing capacity and tech capabilities the youth capital has to be well educated, tech-savvy, possessing expertise in vocational and industry/business relevant skills. If India and China set aside their differences and cooperate and collaborate in the field of higher education, limited resources will turn into vast resources that will bring peace and prosperity to the region. Policy framework and modalities should be specifically worked out to leverage full benefit of collaborations as issues regarding regulations remain key challenges.

Ms Rekha Mathur 

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