The second fastest growing economy, India is on a minute-to-minute basis interacting with the global economy. Be it the volatile stock market vulnerable to ups and downs beyond its national borders, the fast developing education sector which strives to integrate and intermingle skills, knowledge and ethics, the health sector which has opened gateways for tourism or the sprawling and glamorous fashion industry which boasts of tradition blended with modernism, India has in all probability captured eyes and ears on the world map. Nevertheless, challenges for India and its professionals do not end. To be able to touch the tag of “developed economy” from the existing “developing economy” it is imperative for India to grow and develop its available manpower in all possible aspects.
A Knowledge based Economy essentially requires the advent/ innovation/ introduction of new ideas- ideas which rule its world, ideas which transform and reform its existing conventional practices, ideas which make it customer- friendly, prosperous, strong and at par with the world economy. As a first step, it is these very out-of-the-box ideas that the young budding professionals or to-be-professionals need to equip themselves with before we talk about the requisite skills to enforce them. This is the head of challenges faced by professionals in India today. This in no way implies a dearth of talent within the Indian blood. Talent is sprinting within the Indian veins, but it is sad to say that this very ocean of talent is not being harnessed to the best of its capability. This young, blooming talent goes waste, though not completely in following the hot-shots blindly and in accepting the stereotype.
There is always a dire need and scope of innovation in every sector- be it agriculture, information technology, entrepreneurship or academics. Sadly, there is hardly any seen in any of these sectors, particularly the service sector. The current business environment of India is highly dynamic and tough owing to its susceptibility to external factors, especially global. To be able to sustain and prosper in such a competitive scenario, Indian professionals need to upgrade their knowledge and skills. But, many of the graduates today either have a myopic understanding or do not possess the skill of applying theoretical knowledge in practical. Professionalism is learnt the hard way by Indian graduates as they enter the fast-paced and competitive environment of work. The higher education system of India (mainly the government institutions) as opposed to its big fat name fails to cater to the needs of the Indian employers, let alone international.
Excessive focus on theoretical knowledge, rote learning, ability to memorize and reproduce with unduly less on practical, analytical, aesthetical and ethical skills is the main culprit. Apart from work in an organization, there exists a social environment both among the employees and employers and employees, which holds key relevance. Along with facilitating employees with a congenial ambience to revitalize themselves amidst work stress, it tests their social and personal skills. They need to be smart, diplomatic, bold, pragmatic and spontaneous to be able to survive in the corrupt and jealous world around them. It is often seen that graduates are not able to cope up in such a tough environment and end up losing out in their efficiency and contentment.
To enable to-be-professionals to face the aforementioned challenges fearlessly and prosper in their respective fields, Indian education system needs a transformation in a complete sense. Firstly, conventional curriculums must be revised in order to make them channels of wholesome education. This essentially would encompass developing skills of research, thorough understanding, analyzing, forecasting and thus forming one’s own opinions and ideas. Secondly, skills of problem- solving and professionalism need to be taught from the very first day of higher education. Focus needs to be shifted from mere academic learning to professional training. Students need to be given training in crisis management, as that is the biggest challenge in their lives, both personal and professional.
Besides training students to become competent, colleges need to develop personal attributes and qualities of individuals. Efficiency and commitment towards one’s work, calm and composure in crisis, PR skills, sportsmanship, time management, art of work-home balance and courage to rise from the ashes like a phoenix are elixir in today’s world of endless demands. These can be developed by encouraging students to participate in activities and events apart from their stipulated curriculums. Such comprehensive needs of students can be fulfilled only if colleges possess adequate infrastructure along with expert faculty.
As Indian organizations interact, collaborate and associate themselves with organizations abroad, employees too need to be well versed with the style, culture, ethics and modus operandi of their foreign competitors at the very outset so that personal and strategic alliances across the borders can be easily formed. To cater to needs of such prime relevance, undergraduate institutes in India need to foster exchange programmes with foreign universities. In this way, besides an intermingling of cultures, traditions and ethics Indian students will benefit from an enriching experience of exposure and learning.
An active placement cell, which collaborates with all the leading players of the market, is the need of the hour for institutes all over the country. Seminars and presentations should be organized so that students get to interact with the HR teams, recruitment teams and other experienced people of the corporate world. Needless to say, this would not only give students an insight into the world of entrepreneurs’ around them but would also build up levels of confidence and self-esteem. Also, Indian colleges need to be brought up to the high standards of those in the West. This would require reducing the student-teacher ratio, introduction of semester system, introducing unconventional disciplines in the curriculum, enabling students with varied choices so that they can take an educated decision rather than a forceful one and making internships compulsory and subject to evaluation so that students gather fruitful experience.
This process of reformation of the higher education in India needs to be carried out in a multi-faceted way through the mutual involvement of the public sector, private sector and individuals. Since most of the undergraduate colleges in India are headed by the government, it becomes obvious that the major burden of this responsibility lies on the government’s shoulders. Though the Indian government is notorious for passing the buck, filling its pockets with the public’s hard earned money and acting dead slow, still the process of reforms has started treading its right path. Students, teachers and parents in India by the virtue of belonging to the world’s largest democracy, have been active in raising voice for the betterment of the education system. Student organizations like DUSU (Delhi University Students Union) and DUTA (Delhi University Teachers Association) have been striving relentlessly towards this goal. Following their footsteps, more and more social organizations should come together and strive to bring about a substantial change. Owners of private colleges in India need to be educated about the need to bring about necessary investments and changes in their setups. For this, an active role of students and parents in expressing what they feel is lacking and what should be changed and incorporated is required.
Thus, in this complex world of who-wins-who-loses, it is the powerfully equipped resource of human beings which stabilizes the destabililized and wins it all. Be it the debt crisis, terrorism, global warming or exploitation of the transgendered, an unstoppably courageous clan of well-informed and well balanced individuals who can think differently, perform differently and win differently is all what the globe needs today. The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, say it all, “Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
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