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Indian Education System: concentrating on lucrative careers or developing intellect

At approximately 65% literacy rate, India lags much behind other developed and developing economies in terms of adult literacy. Hence much of the government's policy effort is towards universalising primary education and boosting the admission rates to secondary schools and graduate colleges. However in this debate, an aspect emerges whether the Indian education system truly fulfils the objective of "education" or rather it just helps people meeting their needs of a decent lifestyle.

The true goal of education transcends much beyond just awarding degrees to students. Education aims to develop the intellect of the learners. It seeks to free the human being from parochial mindset. Education is not just a tool to earn money to make the ends; it is the way to liberate the mind and soul of a person. The real product of a true education system is a rational mind which works towards building an intellectual society. India is home to brilliant minds with immense potential. However the education system has not been able to produce many intellectuals. The inability of the system to nurture great minds is quite disheartening when the number of researchers in India is compared to countries such as USA, Finland. While India produces 46 PhDs every year per one lakh students, almost 4000 doctorates wear the laurel in USA every year. Even China has left India far behind; so much so that we could only produce two indigenous noble laureates. However the blame can't only be placed on the education system or the government policy towards it. Education, being the face of the society, reflects the impact of the social, cultural and economic phenomena of the society.

The flawed government policy of not offering any incentive to higher research carries a large chunk of blame for this. India simply does not have the educational infrastructure to promote research oriented education. Successive governments have given little thought to it and instead focused their energies on improving the literacy rates. Development of intellectual requires a highly conducive environment with the unequivocal support of a willing state. While an engineer or a doctor earns tens of thousands rupees per month, a PhD student gets meagre stipend. Though the motivation of developing intellect does not come for money, it is certainly required for his subsistence, as hertzberg's motivation-satisfaction theory suggests. Because of unavailability of technological opportunities, thousands of students move to USA, UK or Australia for higher studies; some of them turned out to be leaders of innovation in future. That justifies the fact that we have no dearth of potentials, it just needs to be nurtured in a proper environment with incentives.

The education system tends to promote competition among the pupils instead of developing their aptitude. It is highly focused towards scoring marks in examination rather than building concept. The methodological study approach ends up making the students disenchanted and the degree is used just a tool to enhance the academic profile. It is a greater impediment to skill development. Lack of interaction with industry keeps the research study aloof from the recent trends and makes higher studies unimpressive. Continuous communication with industries helps the researchers understand the emerging trends and develop their intellectual capabilities to seek answers to the recent issues. Absence of definitive policy for promoting innovation is also a barrier to students following their innate desire for higher research thereby developing ground-breaking ideas. India is yet to place an intellectual properties right law in place.

However government policy is not the one reason for lackadaisical attitude among the students towards research oriented studies. The education system, being a much broader aspect than literacy, is heavily influenced by social, cultural and economic phenomena of the society. In order to perform their social duties, people tend to take up jobs at early age, get married and settle down. A rigorous research oriented study sometimes demand complete devotion from the students. Due to less returns in the initial stage, people tend to discourage their wards from taking up research as a carrier option and instead want them to settle down with lucrative career option which is valued as a social status. Family constraints sometimes force the students to abandon their aspirations aptitude development through higher studies. As teaching is no more a prized profession, the best minds are not available to encourage deeper thinking among students. Along with that the availability of easy money in lucrative careers has played against people developing their intellectual tracts.

Earning money instead of developing intelligence is now treated as the yardstick to measure success. But the society is not entirely at fault for this. Indian society is in a transition state where sudden availability of opportunities is helping thousands of poor families to middle class. While their disposable income has seen a sudden increase, they want to play it safe. The Maslowvian theory of motivation suggests that people tend to want to fulfil their immediate survival needs before climbing up the hierarchy of motivation to achieve their intellectual capability. Only professions such as engineer, doctors, MBAs are values in Indian society as they offer a fat package and a decent lifestyle. When compared to western education system, one can easily notice the difference. Their social, cultural value tend develop the trait of independent thinking which is basic to develop interest for deeper understanding of a subject. Instead of limiting a student's options, their education system offers wide range of choices to select their areas of interest. Our technological education does not give due to importance to courses of humanities and vice versa. It limits a person's ability to think beyond what is obvious. Whereas American universities offer auxiliary subject which a student can get credit from along with his or her major.

At one side social constraints discourage students to take up research work, at the other hand the economic liberalisation in 90s' not only opened the Indian market to the global players; it brought a sea of opportunities to India. Boost in Indian exports, IT & ITes outsourcing, financial reforms created lot of job opportunities for educating Indians. The fat money offered by those sectors attracted the young Indians to those jobs which now fulfilled their dream of a good lifestyle. Most of the huge numbers of technological and management institutes opened after the economic liberalisation aim to cater to the industry's requirement and instead of imparting education to the students they just end up being a grooming schools for them. The institutes focus on job placements rather than research publications. All their education is revolves around placing their students in lucrative jobs rather than inculcating analytical ability among them.

But everything is not lost. The institutes like IISc, IITs, and IIMs continue to produce minds who have been contributing to the cause of our country. The government now plans to consult IITs to make the Ganges river basin pollution free by 2020. Anna University students have launched a nano satellite called ANUSAT.

The future of a society, state lies in innovation, new ideas and ground-breaking approaches. And only the intellectual can champion the path of innovation. An independent original thinker is the only one capable of creating new opportunities for the society. Recent government policy changes in higher studies are a welcome step for this. Programs such as establishment of model universities, Nalanda Asian University, promoting higher medical research in IITs will help India to establish a knowledge based society. As India progresses in her journey from a developing country to a developed state, the need of developing intellect will continue to assume more importance. While the society much change its attitude towards education, change in government policies are fundamental for changing the former's outlook. Because intellectuals can create jobs with lucrative careers but a lucrative job does not guarantee development of intellect.

Biswajit Pattanayak