India needs physical, mental, moral growth

India needs physical, mental, moral growth

Over the decades, the nation has not taken care of the physical, moral and intellectual growth of its youth.

Over the decades, the nation has not taken care of the physical, moral and intellectual growth of its youth. This is one of the main reasons why the majority of our youth do not grow up to become  good legislators, doctors, planners, bankers, economists, teachers, builders, industrialists, policemen or journalists and make meaningful contributions to nation-building.

As per a UNESCO report, India has a third of the world’s adult illiterates, totalling 287 million. The country is also home to the largest number of illiterate children in the world. An all-India survey of school children in the rural areas conducted by NGO Pratham’s ASER Centre found that less than 47% of children enrolled in class III to V were able to do simple two-digit subtraction; an NCERT survey covering 2.7 lakh students across the country found 24 states score below national average in science and 21 states score below national average in Mathematics.

Not a single Indian university finds its place among the top 150 universities in the world. A UGC survey found 88 of 130 deemed universities ‘below par’ and as many as two-thirds of government and private colleges do not meet even minimum standards in terms of faculty and infrastructure. Though the union government has decided that nearly 5,000 scientists will each undertake 12 hours of lecture classes in an academic year in public-funded schools and colleges across the country as a part of their duty, it is a plan yet to take off.

Illiteracy and poor education are obstacles to the country becoming self-reliant in any field. A CAG report has classified a parachute developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as seriously life-threatening after the parachute failed to open in a field trial. The parachute was reportedly made after 13 years of research, with an expenditure of Rs 10.75 crore. The country continues to import over 60% of its defence equipment.

As per the latest Economic Survey, India’s spending on R&D has stagnated at 0.7% of GDP in the last 20 years. In fact, R&D expenditure makes a difference only when the quality of education is good. Our education system should promote original thinking, innovation and creativity. The teaching profession should attract young talent as well as engage retired people to fill the gap in requirement of teachers.  

The country is lagging behind in physical growth. The World Bank estimates that India has one of the highest prevalence of malnutrition in the world, which causes nearly 45% of deaths — nearly 3.1 million— of children under five. We are home to the world’s largest number of children with stunted growth. This is mainly due to increase in food prices, biodiversity loss, food adulteration, lack of health awareness among people and the discarding of nutritious traditional food.

Poor physical health adversely affects the performance of Indians in every field of activity. We rank 154th among all the football playing nations in the world. Our football team has not qualified for Olympics since the 1948 London Olympics, when the barefoot Indian football team lost to France 2-1. India wins a lone silver or a bronze in every Olympic sport due to half-hearted efforts, corruption, lack of job opportunities for sportsmen, mismanagement and lack of transparency in the selection process.

Aggressive commercialisation of a few sports, the disappearance of public play grounds, unemployment, price rise and the shrinking of job diversity not only affects sports performance but also the health of our youth. No wonder, we have the world’s largest number of diabetic and organ failure patients.

Moral degradation

The moral degradation has been rapid in the last three decades. As per the National Crime Records Bureau, two children are raped, four are sexually abused and eight go missing every hour in the country. Sex crimes are attributable to lack of moral education, lack of moral and physical courage among people to rescue people in distress, delayed justice, disregard of the rich and influential people of police and judiciary and the influence of local politicians on crime investigators.

Kailash Satyarthi, the recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, has said we are in a national emergency on the question of abuse of children. No law can prevent sex crimes unless children learn from their school years to respect and protect women in society. The depiction of women as objects of enjoyment to market various products contributes to moral degradation.

Digital India has immense power to transform people’s lives, but at the same time, it can rip apart the moral fabric. Hundreds of sex sites are still accessible to children and illiterate people, which has created an unsafe atmosphere. Unless politicians, intelligentsia and conscious citizens sincerely try to repair the physical, moral and intellectual fabric of the nation, India will lose the window of opportunity it has to become a strong and prosperous nation.

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