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Healthcare, education, skill development need serious attention: Shashi Tharoor at BT India@100 Summit

Healthcare, education, skill development need serious attention: Shashi Tharoor at BT India@100 Summit

On the skill development side, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor encouraged the government to form policies to engage the private sector to offer vocational training to people who did not have formal education.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor Congress MP Shashi Tharoor

While the government has been paying attention to the hardware of development – the ports, roads, infrastructure, railways, the software of development or the human component of economic development including healthcare, education and skill development need serious attention for India to achieve its ambitious growth goals when the country completes 100 years of Independence in 2047, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said at the Business Today's India@100 summit.

“We have not seen an improvement to the fact that at least 250 million of our people do not have a primary healthcare centre within five kilometres walk of their places of residence, a place where they can actually get a doctor, a nurse and medicine, that is an injustice that needs to be addressed. You need decent schools for our people. Our government schools are not decent, (there is) massive teacher absenteeism, the ordinary people of India is not getting the education that will enable them to take advantage of the opportunities that the world offers them,” the Congress MP said.

On the skill development side, he encouraged the government to form policies to engage the private sector to offer vocational training to people who did not have formal education. “Why aren’t we engaging private companies much more, getting companies of certain size to compulsorily offer vocational training if necessary, with certificates attached so that people can then have the capacity to move and get jobs,” he added.

Tharoor’s co-panellist at the debate, Harsh Gupta Madhusudan, Investor and Author, agreed that education is one of the less prioritised ministries, but said ground-level development is already happening. He cited the deworming campaign, one of the largest public health programs of Narendra Modi government to deworm all preschool and school-age children between the ages of 1-19 years to improve their overall health, nutritional status, access to education and quality of life. On the healthcare part, he took the example of Covid vaccination drive where the country has crossed the milestone of administering two billion vaccine doses recently and in the case of internet, he said India has the cheapest Internet and the most downloaded gigabytes per person in the world, and the country has leapfrogged even China in digital payments.

“We are consistently having good per capita growth rate and unlike UPA I and II, there have been a lot of structural reforms done. The GST could not be passed by the UPA government, but it was passed by the BJP government. On the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) reforms, it is a massive reform which has totally unblocked our banking system. These are big structural reforms, they are slow moving because they go through a jurisprudence and they set precedence, it takes a long time,” Madhusudan said.

Tharoor said India will be a better place to live in 2047 if we can preserve social harmony and social peace. While India has grown on the economic front in every respect since independence, he said the progress will depend on our political leaders will in making sure that we are a country where everyone is better off.

“By 2047, I want every Indian to be able to take three meals a day for granted, to be guaranteed that there will be a roof over their heads against the rain and the sun, (to be able to) educate their kids, be taken care of without going bankrupt when they are sick and have the capacity to dream of a better life for themselves and their children. That’s true development,” the former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations said.