The world will continue to fight the biggest challenge with Covid-19 for the third year in a row in 2022, and it has left a mark on every front. Despite the difficulties, India still managed to make news in 2022. First, it entered the elite club of the world’s top five economies, and now New Delhi’s G-20 Presidency is in the limelight. US think-tanks are voicing their insightful views on how India and the G-20 countries will shape the new world order vis-à-vis the Russia-Ukraine war and the US-China conflict in the Indo-Pacific region, of which India is the most important. Is this an opportunity for India to strengthen its footprint in global markets and in strategic sectors such as health, education and skills that New Delhi cannot afford to miss? Primarily, most global experts in diplomacy and strategic affairs view India’s G-20 presidency as an economic and business opportunity. However, soft areas like education and skills can reap maximum benefits if India can play its cards perfectly with the G-20 partner countries. It has not only opened an opportunity for India to work with G-20 member countries, including the United States and the European Union region, to work together to share the best tech-enabled teaching and educational modules for in teaching and developing skills. It also called for India to increase its educational curriculum at par with global standards, thus becoming an educational hub for many countries. India can take advantage of the opportunity provided by the G-20 presidency to build strong multi-country educational partnership networks for scholarly exchange, curriculum sharing and academic collaboration. There are already around 50-odd universities in the US waiting to open their offices and academic collaborations with Indian universities. More scholarly exchanges are coming soon.
It also gives India a great opportunity to showcase what it has achieved in the skills sector.
Skills and education can both be new diplomacy drivers for India to strengthen ties with G-20 countries, including countries like the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with which India engages in strong diplomatic and strategic relations. Education and skills related to diplomatic relations offer lasting opportunities for nation-to-nation and people-to-people relations. This will help in building a narrative about the newly emerging India among the developing economies of the world. That is the need of the hour as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
India’s story of its new image needs to be told and that can be told through many scholars and students visiting India, and through skilled Indian youth going out to other G-20 countries for work. PM Modi had a vision of skilling India as an alternative to educate millions of youth who could not get access to formal higher education.
Sensing the G-20 as an important opportunity to showcase to the world the steps taken by India, Union Minister for Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan said his ministries have taken over the chairmanship of G-20 as an opportunity to showcase India’s template for education, which can become a global model for all emerging economies. “Education is one of the priority areas in the G-20…The G-20 meeting under the presidency of India is also an opportunity to share what India has achieved in the education sector particularly after the launch of the National Education Policy 2020.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Secretary for Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, Atul Kumar Tiwari said: “As one of the youngest countries in the world, on the skills agenda, the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship has been tasked with developing a collaborative roadmap for developing an adaptive and agile skill harmonization framework among G-20 countries to enable a more efficient and coherent approach for skill development. Using the ‘skills currency’, it is time for adult learners to prepare for the future of work through a more focused approach towards lifelong learning. Under Mr Pradhan, the Ministry of Skill Development has upgraded the curriculum of skills as expected under the visionary leadership of PM Narendra Modi.”
Emerging trends and changing patterns in the use of digital and technological solutions in education globally and within G-20 member countries call for more collaboration. The workspace and mode of working are changing after Covid-19, and this requires a change in the education curriculum and technology to teach those new skills that can secure jobs. The use of technology-enabled learning at all levels of education will become a necessity.
Top executives feel that there will be significant changes in the workplace in the near future. Thus, it will be important to identify the mix of skills that future workers will need. Automation, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will further place a new premium on “enterprise”, “human”, and “soft” skills that machines cannot master. Therefore, creativity, originality, critical thinking, persuasion, and negotiation etc., are some of the most sought after skills in the coming times. Working groups on education under previous G-20 presidencies have focused on strengthening education architectures by making them more inclusive, accessible, and innovative. Themes such as poverty in education, overall quality of education, continuity of education in times of crises, supporting teachers were accordingly discussed under previous presidents. The Education Working Group also discussed the use of technology for continuing education and universal access, addressing the challenges of the digital divide, impact on early learners, and issues of data privacy, cyber safety and the responsible use of technology. The G-20 countries need to turn their attention to creating knowledge and creating space for innovation, leading to stable economic opportunities and employment. India needs to use the G-20 presidency to shape the education and skills curriculum in a way that ensures jobs for a country destined to have a large youth population, and also unemployment.
It is time to upgrade to the next level and be at par with the global standards set by the developed West in the education and skills sectors. By doing so, India can really use the G-20 presidency term as a sustainable outcome.
Maneesh K. Pandeya is Fulbright Professor, Editor, and PhD student at Howard University, Washington, DC.