Monday, November 16, 2015
The Disquiet at NSDC
Finally, the penny drops. The so-touted worlds most high profile skilling mission stumbles. After a highly critical audit report, several top executives of India's National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) resigned. The audit report highlighted a number of things, most crucially various areas of management failure, and that may have triggered the change. But it also crucially pointed out that more than 99% of all funding of this public-private partnership is coming from public funds, and there is indeed no accountability in how it is being spent.
In summary, the government has finally caught up with what almost everyone else knew. That the much vaunted skills mission was a non-starter, a colossal waste of public funds which made a few dishonest businesses rich. One could justifiably claim that this was one of the pet projects of the previous government, and they must shoulder the blame of its failure. And, they should, having set the body up without any plans and ideas. However, it hurts the current government in a way too, as it has no alternative ideas on the table. The personnel change, perhaps appropriate, is not going to solve the deeper malaise of lack of ideas.
I have always been critical of NSDC and its way of doing things, and argued that NSDC type initiatives essentially undermined, rather than encouraged, the spread of vocational training in India. My argument was that vocational training made significant headway in India, as private enterprises identified underserved vocational markets (IT training, hospitality training, tourism training etc) and built offerings without the government stepping in. But, since 2008, this private market mechanism was completely distorted by the intervention of the government with capacity-building funds, which often went to crony companies, and created inefficiencies. Besides, this government money was spent under the strange doctrine that this needs to go into capacity creation, while the existing capacity, in the form of government supported schools, colleges and industrial training institutes, requiring maintenance and upgrades, were ignored. There was no explanation why public money was handed out to private businesses to create capacity when public capacity existed and was ignored, except that this was a way of making money for some well-connected individuals and companies.
The crisis at NSDC - and indeed one should call it a crisis when the top two executives had to resign - has been kept a low profile. This is surprising, given the prominence every little pronouncement about skills is given in India. So far, this is projected as a management failure, followed by departure of responsible executives. The systemic failure, quite apparent to all observers and pronounced in the audit report, has not been examined adequately. But this is what should happen now - not just the search for a new team, but an interrogation of what really went wrong.
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the...
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are ...
Earlier, I claimed Ed-Tech is over-rated: It promises too much and delivers too little. Worse, the noise of EdTech obscures Education Inno...
Don't be perplexed. I know you may be wondering how on earth can someone love bureaucracy, which stands for all the bad things - slown...
It is easy to overestimate the potential impact of urban development initiatives, public or private. Because as high level concepts, we de...
I hope some people will agree with me if I say EdTech is over-rated. It's a nifty term, much broader than the older, nerdy, E-Learning...
Kolkata needs a fresh start. One of the first mega-cities in Asia, and $150 Billion economy, has fallen from grace, somewhat. It is n...
It may seem a strange question, but this is one of the key debates in Education: Should Education be about acquiring knowledge or developi...
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today –...
The idea came to me from various conversations in China and India: That teacher training in Higher Education is an urgent need and a signi...
How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.