Growth is key to our national security

Feb 09 2013, 12:22 IST
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SummaryUntil recently, we had taken a very compartmentalised view of national security. Each threat to national security was neatly fitted into one compartment.

a direct bearing on social cohesion. Technology security will be the key to building new institutions. Natural disasters, especially those caused by climate change, can wreck food security. Pandemics and diseases, if uncontrolled, can diminish our capacity to defend the borders against our adversaries or to defeat the militants within the country. National security is, therefore, caught in a complex spider’s web and unless we recognise that each strand of this web is connected to other strands, we would not be able to do justice to our fundamental obligation to protect and defend the security of the nation.

Defending and promoting national security stands on three important pillars: firstly, human resources; secondly, science and technology; and thirdly, money. I have placed money last, not because it is the least important, but because it is the most important pillar of national security. Without money, we cannot nurture and build our human resources. We need schools, colleges, universities, libraries, laboratories, skill development institutions and, above all, highly qualified teachers. Only now we have been able to achieve near-universal enrolment of children in school, but there are still problems in retention and, according to 2010-11 statistics, only 73% of children who enrol in class I complete five years of schooling and only 59.4% complete eight years of schooling. Despite having 32,987 colleges and 621 universities, the gross enrolment ratio is only 18.8%.

The central government spends only 0.67% of GDP on education (2010-11), and that includes all heads of expenditure that could be broadly brought under the subject ‘education’. It is estimated that all the state governments put together spend another 2.36% of GDP on education (2010-11). The percentages may appear modest, but the absolute amounts are quite large. Nevertheless, the average child enrolled in class V has only attained the competence of a child in class II. At the other end, none of our universities figure in the top 200 universities of the world.

Let me turn to science and technology. Every country that has moved up to the level of middle income country or a developed country has intensively promoted and heavily relied upon science and technology. It begins with the gross enrolment ratio. Countries that have made the big leap in the last 30 years have an impressive GER. In Malaysia it is 40%, in Brazil it is 26% and in China it is 26%. China has about 1,200 colleges devoted to

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