The world continued to battle the biggest challenge in Covid-19 for the third year in a row in 2022, and it left its mark in every spheres. Despite the adversities, India still managed to be in the news in 2022. First, it was getting in the elite club of the world’s top five economies, and now it is New Delhi’s G-20 Presidency hogging all the limelight. The US think-tanks are buzzing with their insightful takes on how India and the G-20 nations are going to shape the new world order vis-à-vis the Russia-Ukraine war and the US-China conflict in the Indo-Pacific region, where India matters the most. Is this an opportunity for India to strengthen its mark in the global markets and in strategic sectors like health, education and skills which New Delhi cannot afford to lose? Primarily, most global experts on diplomacy and strategic affairs look at India’s G-20 presidency as an opportunity in the economic and business spheres. However, soft areas like education and skills may get the maximum benefit if India manages to play its cards perfectly with G-20 partnering nations. It not only throws open an opportunity for India to collaborate with G-20 member nations, including the United States and the European Union region, to collaborate to share the best tech-enabled teaching and educational modules for instruction and skills building. It also calls for India to augment its educational curriculum at par with global levels, hence become a hub of education for many countries. India can exploit the opportunity given in G-20 presidency to build strong educational partnership networks with many countries for scholarly exchange, curriculum sharing and academic collaboration. Already there are about 50-odd US universities waiting to open their offices and academic collaboration with Indian universities. More of scholarly exchanges are in the offing.
It also gives India a fine opportunity to showcase what it has achieved in the skills sector.
Skills and education can both be the new diplomacy drivers for India to strengthen relations with G-20 nations, including countries like the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with whom India shares robust diplomatic and strategic relations. Education and skills linked diplomatic relations offer a sustained opportunity for nation-to-nation and people-to-people relationship. It will help build the narrative about the new emerging India across the world’s developing economies. That’s the need of the hour as stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s story about its new image needs to be told and that can be said through many scholars and students visiting India, and through skilled India’s youth going out to other G-20 nations for work. PM Modi had a vision to skill India as an alternative to educate millions of youths who cannot get access to formal high education.
Sensing G-20 as a key opportunity to showcase to the world the strides India has made, Union Minister for Education and Skills Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan says his ministries have taken the G-20 presidency as an opportunity to present India’s template for education, which can be a global model for all emerging economies. “Education is one of the priority areas in G-20…The G-20 meet under India’s presidency is also an opportunity to share what India has achieved in the education sector particularly after the launch of National Education Policy 2020.
Talking to The Sunday Guardian, Secretary for Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, Atul Kumar Tiwari said: “Being one of the youngest nations across the globe, on the skills agenda, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has been tasked with building a collaborative roadmap for developing an adaptive and agile skill harmonization framework across G-20 countries to enable a more efficient and cohesive strategy for skill development. With the ‘skills currency’, it is time for adult learners to prepare for the future of work through a more focused approach towards life-long learning. Under Mr Pradhan, the Skills Development ministry upgraded the skills curriculum as envisaged under the visionary leadership of PM Narendra Modi.’’
The emerging trends and changing patterns in the use of digital and technological solutions in education across the world and within the G-20 member countries call for more collaboration. Workspace and mode of working are changing post-Covid-19, and it calls for a change in the education curriculum and technology to teach those new skills which can ensure jobs. The use of technology-enabled learning at all levels of education will become a necessity.
Top officials feel that there are going to be significant workplace changes in the near future. Thus, it would become important to identify the mix of skills that the future workforce will need. Automation, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will further place a new premium on the “enterprise”, “human”, and “soft” skills that the machines cannot master. Therefore, creativity, originality, critical thinking, persuasion, and negotiation etc., will be some of the most sought-after skills in the times to come. The education working groups under the past G-20 presidencies have focused on strengthening educational architectures by making them more inclusive, accessible, and innovative. Themes like educational poverty, universal quality education, continuity of education in times of crises, supporting teachers have accordingly been discussed under the previous presidencies. The Education Working Group has also discussed the use of technology for educational continuity and universal access, addressing challenges of digital divide, impact on early learners, and issues of data privacy, cyber safety and the responsible use of technology. The G-20 nations need to turn their gaze and attention towards knowledge creation and creating space for innovation, leading to robust economic and employability opportunities. India needs to leverage the G-20 presidency to build the education and skills curriculum in a way that it ensures jobs for a country set to have a large young population, and unemployed too.
It’s time for upgrading to the next level and be at par with the global standards set by the developed West in education and skills sectors. By doing that, India can really leverage the G-20 presidency term as a sustained outcome.
Maneesh K. Pandeya is Fulbright Professor, Editor, and PhD student at Howard University, Washington, DC.