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Take a skill pill

What’s this new ministry for skill development the government is planning?The country is facing a huge labour shortage, and the said ministry will do the needful to bump up the supply...

india Updated: May 24, 2009 22:45 IST

What’s this new ministry for skill development the government is planning?


The country is facing a huge labour shortage, and the said ministry will do the needful to bump up the supply.

Labour shortage? In India?
That’s right. The millions pouring out of our farms, unlike the Water of India magic trick, is not an inexhaustible tide. Very soon we’d be running out of hands to hire.

What then of the unemployment we see around us?
This is how it works. To tighten a screw, you need a man to hold the screwdriver, and another man telling him which way to turn it. We have the screw, the screwdriver, and the man to turn it; but there’s no one to tell him whether it should go clockwise or anti-clockwise.

You mean, labour means workers plus education…
Precisely. Things get complicated when you bring in an electric screwdriver. Our man then would then have to be taught how to turn on the switch as well.

But shouldn’t elementary school be taking care of that?
It should, but we choose to educate our children instead with all sorts of esoteric stuff: Literature, Science, History… The poor screwdriver, if found at all in a classroom, is probably rusting on a shelf.

Why don’t we simply make it part of the curriculum?
What, and deprive future Indians their birthright to be argumentative? It’s far more important for them to understand the politics of identity than the economics of a screw.

Do say: We gave the world zero
Don’t say: It’s a zero-sum game