Nagpur: “Education system is the most important and crucial for the development of the country. India with its demographic dividend has the potential to become a game-changer in the country with ‘right education, training and skillsets,” observed HCL Technologies Pvt Ltd founder chairman Shri Shiv Nadar.
He was speaking as chief guest at the annual Vijayadashami celebrations of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at Reshambagh Grounds on October 8. RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat, Vidarbha Prant Sanghchalak Sri Ram Harkare, Sahsanghachalak Shridhar Gadge and Nagpur Mahanagar Sanghachalak Shri Rajesh Loya also shared the dais.
This was probably for the first time that the RSS invited a personality from the corporate world to be the chief guest for its Foundation Day celebrations. Earlier, notable personalities from religion, social work, academia, defence etc. were hosted by the Sangh as chief guests for its annual celebrations watched over closely by the admirers and critics of the RSS alike mostly for the address of the Sarsanghachalak.
In his nearly an hour-long address in English, Shri Nadar lamented the pathetic state of education in the country, presenting the stark realities supported by statistical data. He said that 266 million people in India can’t read or write. This lack of education is the root cause of several severe problems in the country like malnutrition and infant mortality.
Hailing the Right to Education Act as a first step to achieving 100 per cent literacy he quoted from ASER Survey conducted by an organisation called ‘Pratham’ led by Madhav Chavan and Rukmini Banerji to highlight the sorry state of education. According to this survey, only 44% of our total number of children in standard 5 can read the standard 2 level of text and 23% of children in grade 5 can do simple arithmetic like division.
The situation in North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan is even worse according to this survey. In these states, the percentage of grade 5 student being able to read grade 2 text is just 36% and for the arithmetic acumen, it is only 18%.
Concerned over this pathetic state of affairs which is as vital as the education sector, the HCL launched an initiative called “SHIKSHA” to address the problem of illiteracy by making learning the central focus, Shri Nadar said. They have selected the state of UP for launching this initiative because it is the largest state with a population of over 200 million and if it were a country it would have been greater in size and population over many countries in Africa, Europe and South America. If Shiksha Initiative worked in UP, it would definitely work in every state of India, he added explaining the logic in selecting UP for this project.
Another initiative launched by the HCL is “HCL Samuday” he said adding that this was started with the objective of achieving social uplift and transformation. The project is aimed at driving integrated village development across six parameters – agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, livelihood and WASH i.e. water, sanitation and hygiene. It is currently launched in three blocks of UP covering 765 villages.
The HCL Chairman said the 500 strong HCL Samuday team of energetic and focused individuals are working towards transforming the lives of 600,000 individuals and it has inspired great trust in the village community.
Underlining the success of HCL Samuday model, Shri Shiv Nadar urged the RSS given its massive outreach and strong roots across the country to “take the Samuday model and we can embark upon the implementation journey together.”
Calling upon the RSS cadre the HCL Chairman said: “As members of RSS you have already taken the first step in this direction by joining the organisation that puts the nation before the individual and instills a deep sense of pride and ownership towards the country….For the nation is only as strong as the people who inhabit it. I would urge you to play your role in making sure our country continues to make its mark on the world stage”.
The function saw the presence of prominent personalities from political, religious and social fields. Mahant Shri Devendra Das Maharaj, Jagadguru Shyamcharan Devacharya of Nimbark Peeth, Ajmer, Baba Kalyani, Chairman of Bharat Forge Limited, Shri GD Gopal from Coimbatore, Shri Sanjeev Khemka, Chairman of KCL Company, Lt. Col (Retd) Shri Ashish Mangrulkar, E. Palaniswami from Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, Shri Virendra Singh from Uttar Pradesh, Smt Bhargavi Devi, the mother of RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri Mukunda CR and representatives of Arunachal Pradesh who visited the RSS HQ under ‘Bharat Mera Ghar’ initiative.
Pramukh Sanchalika of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti Sushri Shantakka, her predecessor Sushri Pramilatai Medhe, RSS Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Shri Arun Kumar and members of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, etc were also present at the function. The entire programme streamed live from the ground through the internet, and cable television channels. The 24 x 7 radio channel ‘Nirantar’ was also launched.