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The World Affairs Discussion Group Message Board › New Meetup: India: The next superpower?

New Meetup: India: The next superpower?

John Van P.
JohnVP
Madrid, ES
Announcing a new Meetup for The World Affairs Discussion Group!

What: India: The next superpower?

When: Sunday, April 11, 2010 4:00 PM

Where:
Flower Hill Mall, west end
2650 Via De La Valle
San Diego, CA 92014

India is a major presence on the world stage, both economically and, to a growing degree, militarily. The country is strategically balanced between China and the U.S.. It has been in continuous state of crisis with Pakistan since the the late 1940s when India and Pakistan were born as modern nations.

India is a complex society, with a large and growing middle class, but with many more in dire poverty; a lively democracy, afflicted by corruption and a stifling bureaucracy; a country embracing many ethnic groups; with a Hindu majority and a large Muslim minority.

I recently found what looks like a good book about India:

In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India - Edward Luce

available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. You are invited, but not required, to peruse this book prior to the meeting.

Come and share your thoughts about this fascinating nation.

As always...

All views and political orientations are welcome.

We welcome beginners and policy wonks alike. Feel free to join the discussion or just to listen and learn.

If you sign up and change your mind, please change your reply so that someone else may attend.

Meetup to last 1.5 hours (until 5:30 PM) although, of course, people are welcome to continue beyond that point.

Looking forward to another stimulating discussion!

John

Learn more here:
http://www.meetup.com...­
David
dr78
Group Organizer
San Diego, CA
Post #: 8
The article linked below discusses India's ultra competitive, yet mostly inadequate education system. A growing population, coupled with a failing educational system, doesn't bode well for India unless there is some effective reform.

http://www.nytimes.co...­

Below is an excerpt.

"The mania over testing underscores a fundamental disconnect in Indian education: Even as elite Indian students have achieved remarkable success studying overseas, the Indian educational system is widely considered to be failing both the tens of millions of students at the bottom, who drop out before high school, and the smaller pool at the top, who are competing for entrance into universities that are too few and too underfinanced.

Education presents such a stubborn problem, especially access to quality education, that experts warn that the future advantages of India’s youthful population could become a disadvantage if the government cannot improve the system rapidly enough to provide more students a chance at college. Of the 186 million students in India, only 12.4 percent are enrolled in higher education, one of the lowest ratios in the world.

“If you have 150 million or 160 million children who don’t go to college, what is going to happen to them 10 or 15 years from now?” asked Kapil Sibal, the government minister overseeing education. “The demographic dividend will become a demographic disaster.”

Education reform has become a centerpiece of the Congress Party-led government. The federal Right to Education Act takes effect on April 1, focusing on expanding free and compulsory education, lowering teacher ratios and a host of other goals, even as the government continues to separately push forward on a major school construction program.

Higher education presents a problem of quantity and quality. Even as India’s top students are world class, most Indian universities are not, with roughly two-thirds of colleges and universities rated below standard. And the limited number of quality schools is especially problematic given that 40 million extra students are expected during the coming decade."

John Van P.
JohnVP
Madrid, ES
Post #: 22
Based on the Times article it appears that in India there is a huge demand for education and supply is not rising to meet it. Why is that? Is there no private education in India? It seems that the state has a monopoly on education and, as is so often the case, the state does not allocate resources nearly as efficiently as would the market if it were given free rein. Indian parents, in addition to paying for tutors, ought to be agitating for a free market in educational services.
Wally
user 4143008
San Diego, CA
Post #: 56
I haven't read the article, but I know from other sources that the education in rural areas is often terrible. Teachers are ill-educated and often don't even show up for classes themselves. The illiteracy rate is about 45% now, which though pitiable, is still better than it used to be.

About the free market approach - I think when it comes to the rural poor, while there is demand, it is social demand, not economic demand. Everyone wants their children educated, but most cannot pay for it. The situation is so bad that thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide every year because they cannot pay their debts. In my opinion, while a free market system would allocate resources more efficiently, it would have to involve a government subsidy of some kind to stimulate enough economic demand to ensure an adequate education to the rural poor.

In Egypt they have a similar problem - teachers are so poorly paid and so hard to fire (like all employees there) that they will often teach poorly or not come to school at all, and then teach their students privately after school for additional fees.
John Van P.
JohnVP
Madrid, ES
Post #: 23
Perhaps there is not one Indian economy but two, as in most developing countries. One economy, about 350 million people, is composed of people going to university and aiming for jobs in high tech, biotech, finance, media, international trade, etc., and government. The other, about 550 million people, is made up of peasants, itinerant laborers, street vendors, etc. The New York Times article is about the India of aspiring professionals. They are in a position to demand, economically and politically, private higher education.

I am told that in Peru there was, as in India, a single-university system for a long time. High school students studied intensively for two years to prepare for the university entrance exam. About 20 years ago there arose a strong political demand for private universities and the system was changed to allow them, to good effect. Better off Indians could and should follow this example.

As to the plight of the masses, that is a separate and difficult topic. One insight I have gleaned is that India's labor laws are very rigid: It is almost impossible to fire someone. Therefore, employers would much rather invest in capital (machinery and labor saving technology) than in labor. Thus, even as the economy grows rapidly the number of jobs in the manufacturing sector are stagnant or shrinking.

It sounds like Egypt has similar problems, including the problem of not being able to fire people. Interestingly, it also sounds like there is a black market for education in Egypt. I haven't heard of a similar phenomenon in India or elsewhere.
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