India’s population of 1.3 billion people is approximately 1/6th of the global humanity. And, about 50% are below the age of 25 years (Census 2011). Further, there are 20-26 million children born in India every year. As a reference, Australia’s population is approximately 24 million.
Thus, in the next 35-50 years, India has to prepare and educate 700 million to 1.3 billion young men and women for their lives and careers. This is India’s defining challenge and opportunity of the 21st century!
India must also address its mega challenges—problems that affect over 100 million people each—such as water, health, energy, law and order, urban migration, climate change, and poverty.
A vibrant higher education system is the engine that can address all these challenges and opportunities. However, India's higher education system is in crisis. Six metrics, taken together, point towards a crisis in India's higher education system:
Even after 70 years of independence India does not have even one world-class multidisciplinary research university. And, just one university was ranked in the Top 500 of Global Rankings (ARWU, 2017).
Its premier institutions of IITs, IIMs, and AIIMS enroll less than 0.5% of students. (estimates, various sources)
Parents are spending close to $50 Billion in private coaching to improve their child's chances of making it into these premier institutions or sending them overseas for higher education. (various sources)
India's gross enrollment ratio (GER), one of the measures of access, is a measly 27% (UNESCO, 2015).
Industry finds 75-90% of those graduating from India's colleges and universities unemployable. (various sources)
Industry is spending 6-12 months in training these recent graduates for productive work. (various sources)
Everyone is paying a hefty price for this crisis: students, parents, industry, society and the nation.
Sources and additional references:
The Time to Reform India’s Education System is Now (Shail Kumar)
Building Golden India: How to unleash India's vast potential and transform its higher education system. Now. (Author: Shail Kumar. The book includes a foreword by Desh Deshpande.)