In an exclusive interview to a leading Delhi-based daily the other day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi bared his heart out as he said he is still a challenger in response to a sharp question as to whether this time, unlike in 2014 when he was a challenger, he is rather an incumbent. “You said I am not a challenger this time. That is not true. I am a challenger who is fighting against those things that harm India. Corruption weakens our country from within, I am challenging it. Dynasty politics weakens our democracy, I am challenging it. Terror threatens our nation’s very existence, I am challenging it. Chalta Hai attitude held our nation’s progress hostage for a long time, I am challenging it. Forces of negativity try to obstruct an aspirational India from rising, I am challenging them. The people of India are also challengers. Along with us, they too are fighting parties like the Congress that want to take India back to the era of corruption and loot. There is such a mood against the Congress that, by their own admission, they are fighting on the lowest number of seats in a Lok Sabha election ever,” he said in great candour.
The most remarkable thing about what the Prime Minister has said is his assertion of not only him being a challenger but of also the people of the country who have learned how to challenge the evil forces of negativity as they have their own 21st-century aspirations to fulfil and as they want to see their beloved motherland rise further in the comity of nations. True, the Modi government could have done things in a better way, but the fact remains that under his leadership the country has surged in the eyes of both the East and the West. The challenge to terror has been precise, thanks to the success our armed forces have had in countering the savagery exported from Pakistan. The required response to terror unleashed by the Lashkar-Jaish ilk, as well as to the barbarity inflicted by Naxals, has been acknowledged by the whole world – right from the US to the UK to France in the West to Japan and South Korea in the East. Along with this, India has now mutated to being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, despite the strident critique that the Prime Minister faced in the wake of that challenge called demonetization. And while it is true that farmers’ suicide due to debt and penury remains a huge challenge, the farm sector has received a boost with aid from technological advancement, especially digitization; and now we have focused areas getting upgrade via the route of artificial intelligence as well.
Much, however, needs to be done in one crucial area that has been neglected all along in the absence of a pragmatic roadmap – higher education. Here lies the real challenge for any government, considering that the youth today has a new education aspiration that combines the quality human resource he is capable of graduating into and his job aspiration if only the education system in vogue mutates accordingly and renders him job capabilities. Unemployment, coupled with the fact of one being not employable despite a university degree in hand, is an enormous issue. It is here that the government needs to knuckle down in consultation with academics. In fact, the now-defunct National Knowledge Commission, created with much fanfare during the Manmohan Singh regime, may be revamped so that its sagacious recommendations in areas right from an altered and innovative teaching-and-research methodology to upgrading the UGC mechanism are heeded by way of implementation. If the challenge here is worked upon with the tangibility it requires, any ‘challenger’ for that matter would be doing a marvellous service to the nation. The day of results, May 23, will tell us the next chapter in the story.