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India poised to become education hub, says Sibal

Special Correspondent

India needs not just growth but equity: : Sibal

“Diaspora has learned to survive in very competitive climes”

NEW DELHI: India’s attempt to build a “knowledge economy” has evidently caught the attention of the overseas Indian community if the turnout at the session on the subject during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meeting here on Tuesday was any indication.

To a packed hall, Union Minister of Science & Technology Kapil Sibal and Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Knowledge Commission, sought to underline the fact that India was poised to become an education destination.

India, according to Mr. Sibal, was particularly well-poised for becoming a key education hub as “we can both feed the fire and ignite the flame.” While the Minister sought the support of overseas Indians in the endeavour by saying that “we need you here to ignite the flame,” he was quick and sharp in his response to criticism from the gathering about the ills that plague India.

As members in the gathering expressed concern over rampant corruption and bureaucratic red-tapism, the Minister said: “Please be assured that we are more worried about this country than some of you here.”

Urging the gathering not to draw comparisons, he said they should instead understand that India had its own set of realities and complexities to which there can be no one-size-fits-all answer.

India, according to Mr. Sibal, needs not just growth but equity. “We need technologies that are accessible and affordable which neither Japan nor the U.S. can provide us,” was his answer to repeated comparisons to the developed world.

Earlier, during the course of the discussion, India came in for criticism for lacking the killer instinct. India avoids competition, but the diaspora has learned to survive in very competitive climes. “Creativity has to be fuelled by risk-taking,” said Dato Vijay Eswaran, a panelist from Hong Kong.

The Indians on the panel — Som Mittal of National Association of Software and Service Companies and Vijay K. Thadani of NIIT – drew attention to the opportunities available for overseas Indian participation in the country’s development.

While Mr. Thadani focussed on the need to address the last-mile employability problem of India’s manpower, Mr. Mittal said a number of areas which used to be in government domain had been opened out for private participation; offering the overseas Indian community new avenues for engaging with India.