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Entrepreneurship, Employability, Innovation and Sociopreneurship fill CII’s Sustainable Education Agenda at its Tamil Nadu annual meet

Team YS
14th Mar 2011
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“State spending on education has not achieved its target of six percent of public expenditure”: Dr. Purandeswari, Union Minister of State for HRD

CII Tamil Nadu organized its annual day with a conference on the theme “Education for Sustainable Development” at Chennai. The inaugural session was addressed by Dr. D. Purandeswari, Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development. She said that the government is coming up with an Unfair Practices Bill in the education sector to address many issues concerning private educational institutions. The target for education is six per cent of government spending but the target is yet to achieved, the Minister said. This is because the states are not spending enough on education although the Centre has allocated more funds in the 11th Plan. “The 12th Plan would see a higher contribution than the 11th Plan for education,” Dr. Purandeswari added. She suggested a model of self-regulation for private education providers as the number of private institutions in higher education is going up considerably. “The challenges for quality education have multiplied because of globalisation and so there is a need to create a workforce that addresses global needs and not only India’s needs,” said Dr. Purandeswari.

Arun Maira, member of the Planning Commission, in his keynote address, lamented that the manufacturing sector is unable to attract quality talent although the country produces excellent engineers. He broadly focused on three themes -- systems of delivering education, methods of learning and purpose of education -- to bring about effective changes in the education sector to focus on employability, especially in the manufacturing sector. He stressed upon a collaborative approach to deliver results. He quoted Milton Friedman who in the 1950s wanted the government to ask itself “are you investing in human resources?” as it is only important for a nation’s growth, which is typically measured in terms of numbers like the GDP growth, jobs created, etc.

Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman, CII (South Zone) and CEO of Infosys, called for deregulation of the education sector and said that the private institutions show no interest in R&D. He asked the government to recognize education sector as an industry so that it could deliver better. Access to higher education for poor is still a challenge, felt Mr. Gopalakrishnan. He wanted the industry, government and other stakeholders to focus on developing a mature educational ecosystem.

Nandini Rangaswamy, Chairperson, CII Tamil Nadu, focused on skills development and stressed on public-private partnership model to deliver skills training to people. Her grand vision was to make India the skills capital for the world by 2012.

Entrepreneurship and Employability

Two distinct threads of livelihood for young people -- entrepreneurship and employability -- formed the focus of the prelunch sessions. The entrepreneurship panel discussion focused on opportunities and government support while the employability session stressed upon the need to bridge the gap between education and employment. The key speakers at the entrepreneurship session were Dr. Pradipta Mahapatra, Chairman of the Business Coaching Foundation, Dr. E.S. Krishnamoorthy, Hony. Secretary, VHS, Sudeep Jain IAS, Special Officer, Entrepreneurship Development Institute and Sanjay Mariwala, MD, Kancor Ingredients Ltd. The MD of Saint Gobain India, B. Santhanam, moderated the employability session addressed by Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman of Cognizant, Dr. G. Viswanathan, Chancellor, VIT University and Dr Elizabeth Verghese, Chancellor, Hindustan University. Lakshmi Narayanan wanted establishment of Virtual Universities to provide higher education to employees as most students take up jobs after undergraduation.

Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

Navi Radjou, Executive Director for India and Global Business, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge focused upon Indovation (Indian innovation), which is based upon the theme “I want to solve a critical problem facing my community.” Business mind with a social heart is necessary for venturing into sociopreneurship, said Mr. Radjou. He showcased the Cambridge ecosystem that has developed over the years and stressed upon collaboration with Silicon Valley and co-innovation for emerging markets. Importantly, the e-cells and incubation centres in universities should go beyond funding and incubating businesses to commercialize business ideas, thereby creating sustainable development. He showed the Cambridge University’s success in commercialising business ventures.

T. Kannan, moderating this session on innovation, said that there has been no innovation in education although Dabbawalahs and Tata Nano are innovative successes from India. C.K. Ranganathan, MD, CavinKare, who pioneered personal care with the sachet model, said incremental innovation is only happening and there is no disruptive or revolutionary innovation as yet. He felt that innovation is born out of necessity and needs a strong will and right mindset. Innovative thinking should be encouraged at the school level, Mr. Ranganathan emphasised. Kris Gopalakrishnan said that there are no clustered ecosystems such as Stanford and Silicon Valley. Although Bangalore has mature companies, there is no effective industry-academia collaboration in the city. The startups out of engineering are more than 90% whereas out of MBA, it is only 5%. The education system should generate more PhDs and research and linkage between academic research and industrial application is needed, felt Mr. Gopalakrishnan. Stressing that breakthrough ideas happen only at SMEs, he said equity participation for faculty members should be allowed in startups and also research parks should be established in major universities and colleges. He quoted Infosys’s innovation developing sockets that reduced power consumption. Against a $1000 Western socket, Infosys has developed a $30 socket in its own R&D team.

Gayathri Sriram, Chairperson, UCAL group, moderated the sociopreneurship panel discussion addressed by Srihari Udupa, Director, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and M.M. Murugappan, Vice Chairman, Murugappa Corporate Board. Mr. Murugappan listed six qualities of a social entrepreneur as willingness to self-correct, willingness to share credit, willingness to break free from established structure, willingness to cross disciplinary boundaries, willingness to work quietly and willingness to strong ethical impetus. He asked the audience to read How to Change the World by David Bernstein, an excellent book on social innovation. Mr. Udupa said that social entrepreneurship has evolved to co-creation of wealth from philanthropy and social movements of Vino Bhave in India and explained mindset issues surrounding social entrepreneurship.

One common thread that was visible throughout the discussion was the IT sector’s large share in providing employment. “We need more people,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO of Infosys. As Arun Maira pointed out as we are one of the manufacturing hotbeds, our educational system should also be tuned towards employability in the manufacturing sector too lest we lose out our manufacturing edge.

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