Just as the country was gearing up to deal with an economic crisis due to the ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, war-torn Ukraine has further worsened the issue. Chief economic advisor, V Anantha Nageswaran, in a tête-à-tête with author and journalist, Gautam Chikermane, discussed the way forward at the 10th edition of the ThinkEdu Conclave, organised by The New Indian Express on March 9.
“In terms of maintaining balance while acknowledging the difficulties that a country and its citizens have faced in the last couple of years, India has weathered the challenge reasonably well in terms of both macro and health issues, compared to other countries. But the challenges the pandemic has left behind in terms of skilling and education, especially due to school shutdown and digital learning, will be an issue that we need to address because of the impact it will have on medium to long term growth prospects,” said Nageswaran. He was talking on the topic ‘Rhetoric and Reality: The Education Spend’.
According to Nageswaran, investment spending, employment generation and income growth is a virtuous cycle that needs to happen. In the medium term, the biggest change is to realise the full potential in two areas — education and health. If the government can proactively take care of health management and bridge the learning gap due to closure of schools, it is a potential way to move forward, he stated.
When Gautam asked him if crisis management has become the new normal and if one must try to design policies around it, the latter replied that there needs to be a long-term vision for the economy. “We need to be alert to take advantage at both economic and personal levels. Thinking processes which have evolved over time will also take time to be discarded. That is a bigger change than policymaking.”
When asked about the repealing of the three farm laws which were thought to be good for small and marginal farmers and the way forward to increasing farm productivity, Nageswaran said that farm laws are only an element of increasing farm productivity among many others. “Land consolidation, depletion of groundwater, procurement policy because it is only concentrated on a few geographical locations and crop insurance are the issues that have to be addressed.”
ThinkEdu 2022 is the grand tenth edition of what has consistently been India’s biggest education conclave for a decade now. March 8 and 9 will see some stalwarts of India’s academic, economic and political ecosystems bring ideas, ideologies and reflections on the past, present and future of India’s education system. The sessions will be viewed by a live audience, in addition to the 2,750 registered users on the conclave’s digital space. Over the last nine years, the conclave has seen some true stalwart thinkers such as former presidents Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr Pranab Mukherjee, MPs Jairam Ramesh, Smriti Irani, former CM of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, NITI Aayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant and spiritual guide Sadhguru.