India stands at a crucial juncture in terms of its economic development, wherein it is currently the fastest growing world economy. However, it is necessary to understand that the sustainability of its economic development will be dependent on the social progress of the nation.
The biggest new challenge facing India’s policymakers and administrators is rapidly rising unemployment with youth unemployment touching as high as 16% in 2016. And even though India has a high GDP rate, only a fraction of it leads to real human development. For example, a 10% increase in GDP now results in less than 1% increase in employment.
In fact, according to the UNDP’s Human Development Report (2016), India ranks 131st among the 188 countries on the human development index. Even among SAARC members, India’s HDI rank is lower than Sri Lanka and Maldives and a little higher than Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. The biggest reason for this is the gender and regional inequality.
But this scenario is changing. A new and improved India or as some may say India 2.0 requires better urban and policy planning. The current Smart Cities Project, AMRUT and PMAY have already taken the country half way there. While this enhances our living and development environment, what we need more is a stronger education system.
Especially when it comes to primary or early years learning, it should be more activity based. At present, 70% of India’s urban population is low-income and the schools they have access to show poor learning outcomes. Rote memorisation is given more emphasis than practical teaching. Because of which, in RTE schools only 35 percent of grade 10 students can read at grade 4 level.
Activity-based learning methods use structured play-based activities, games, and experiences that provide developmental benefits across the cognitive, physical, and social-emotional domains.
Finally, the conversations on development must move beyond the barriers of GDP and enter the arena that caters to the needs of the citizens of the nation. India’s HDI rank will not increase unless it shows considerable social progress in every walk – gender equality, crime rate, employment, standard of living, general happiness and growth. Government policy needs to focus on all these parameters.
WTD News is partnering with X Billion Action Lab for the 9th UN Young Changemakers Conclave on 27th October, at the US Consulate Lawns in Mumbai. Join us as we discuss #ReimaginingCapitalism with the Chairman Business World, Anurag Batra at the event or on UNYCC’s Instagram.