Whose skills and what development

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The government must be credited to have brought alive the phrase ‘skill development’ on an unprecedented scale. It seems to have become the latest bandwagon on which all wish to climb on to. So be it.

However, like in many things in public life it appears to be akin to ‘old wine in a new bottle’. As the knowledgeable know, this usually creates cracks in the bottle. More to the point skill has been made synonymous with downstream livelihood focusing on domains like drivers, plumbers, electricians and more. There is nothing wrong with that. All country communities need this kind of skill formation.

The trouble is elsewhere in at least 3 manners.

Talk of skill development in India has been on since independence. ITIs are a chain of institutions across the country, so well known that many confuse them with IITs. However the pace of growth and requirements have been so large that not even World Bank grants were able to breed vibrancy into ITIs or polytechnics to either make them world class institutions or indeed make them the seed bed of certain type of employment. The more successful of polytechnics e.g. Allahabad Polytechnics or Institute of Rural Technology have their hand so full that they sought shelter under the omnibus title of ‘Institute’.

In a status bound society like India, if the effected party does not see his status rising after undergoing a given skill formation experience he either stops making that kind of effort or convinces himself that he needs to peruse ‘higher education’.
This has led to a strange kind of skill formation in ,say, Commerce or in Engineering with does not make any sense to many employers. Further, theses degrees has rendered theses individuals unfit for understanding any such thing as dignity of labor.
The truth, however, like always, is multifaceted.

Not only do many people not know their jobs but because of ‘contacts’ they are loaded with assignments for which they were not only temperamentally, but professional inept.

Consider one of the biggest employers in this country that is the Indian railways. The road to skilled jobs in the railways reportedly has often been through serving as domestic help to high and mighty of the railway system.

Putting it simply it is always difficult to map skills where standards of recruitment and selection are unknown. Many people are not even aware of what it takes to deliver till they start learning by doing and at times with huge costs. Watch the electrician climb the pole to set right the electricity fault. Even his manner of doing so, would show the risk he is running not only for others but for himself also.

Illustratively, when the rain comes and some electrical line snaps resulting in people getting electrocuted-- it does find a small place in the media but nothing really changes. The episodes the reactions are predictable.

The limited inquiry made by the writer did not ever show the ‘fault’ which led to the snapping of the lines and the individual being electrocuted, being ever investigated, conclusively. The responsibility is never fixed.

As a people we have mastered that art of evasive investigation. Recall an incident of stampede on the new Delhi railway station during the minister ship of very valobile public leader who had visited jail for long periods of time. The investigation into the stampede showed that there was no lapse on anybody is part.   Hence there was no question of fixing responsibilities. That so many people died was regrettable but since no one has caused it, it declared as ‘just happened’!
So much for skill formation and more. If the story was to end there it would be, regrettable, but comprehensible even if it be regrettable. The truth of the matter is, at many levels of institutions there are individuals for whom inefficiency is a conscious choice.

People chose to be inefficient because to be inefficient is ‘no crime’, it breeds convenience. The superior of his own survival looks the other way, colleagues defend and plead for each other. Subordinates see it as the way to go!

So much also for skilling India!!

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