The real wealth of a nation is not its GDP but the intellectual wealth of its people, said Union Minister for HR, and Telecom, Kapil Sibal while inaugurating the Rotary District Conference, DISCON, here today.
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Addressing the Rotarians he said that biggest task before the Rotary International is to reach out to not only the children in our own country but around the globe and enrich their wealth by ensuring literacy for all. That alone can tackle the problems of poverty, hunger and employment around the globe, he added.
India has 220 milion children who go to school but the unfortunate part is that only 12.4% reach the college level, which is the biggest challenge today to take them into colleges and universities so that they can be empowered to become useful contributors to their country’s wealth, he said. The national commission has the mandate to take these drop-outs to the college level and achieve 30 percent level, but that would still leave a vast majority of nearly 160 million youngsters who must be brought into the mainstream by imparting the required skills, he averred.
Our country today requires trained para-legals, para-medics, better chefs, drivers, hospital managers, automobile and construction engineers that requires massive overhaul in the education framework to fill the skill-gap, he stated.
He also pointed out the growing disparity in the changing needs of the industry and the academic curriculum which requires active collaboration between them so as to make each other compatible. Referring to his meeting with the representatives of the automobiles association whose requirement for the cars for the future is all electronic based where more than the automobile engineers the need would be to integrate electrical engineers to the auto industry needs.
He expressed hope that the Rotary has the capability and capacity to reach out to every unschooled child just as they have reached out to the homes of the people in immunizing them against polio and managing to eliminate it almost from the world.
Kapil Sibal underlined the need to innovate and use science and technology to look for alternate means of producing food, since agriculture is becoming unsustainable as we continue to consume depleting water resource especially when the population of the world would touch 8.99 billion in 2050 making our resources of water, energy and food scarce to meet the demand.
It is time to cross the existing line of thinking and conquer new frontiers by introducing new innovations which are possible only when we are able to take our vast young human resource to be literate, he said.
Earlier the special representative of Rotary International President, Glen Kinross, who had earlier been the world president of Rotary International, spoke about the Rotary’s thrust areas in literacy, maternal and child health, clean drinking water, etc. He said that today 92 countries in the world have no free education in their system, for which Rotary would try to motivate them to implement the same so that more and more children can be educated. He emphasized that 2 billion of the 6.9 billion population of the world cannot read and write which is a major concern.