KP Krishnan, Secretary from the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and Chairman of the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), Government of India, discusses the formidable task of upgrading India's skills deficit swiftly and inclusively to Aashna Agarwal, Content Coordinator at Gateway House.
Your job is to build India's skills. How has the progress been so far and what are the challenges today?
No one can build India's skills, she will build her own. Governments, typically, do not build skills; they enable it. We want to address the hugely inadequate skill capacity in India; we need ten times the magnitude of what we have today. The 'Skill India' mission, which was launched in 2014, has a clear set of three objectives:
The Indian informal economy employs 90 per cent of our workforce. How can we design banking, insurance and healthcare products to support its workers?
We have designed many such products. The question is: how do we scale up their implementation and adaptation? For instance, the National Pension System (NPS), which was introduced in 2004, is a pension system based on one's contribution. It's not a defined benefit system, but a defined contribution system. It does not mandate any minimum sums or an employer contribution necessarily. For instance, if you want to join the NPS and contribute Rs 200 today, but tomorrow, you work for a larger firm and want to contribute Rs 2,000 a month and your employer wants to contribute another Rs 2,000, it is permissible. It is a flexible, but regulated, pension system, allowing for very small-ticket contributions.
Similarly, the government of India's entire thrust towards financial inclusion is, primarily, banking the unbanked, securing the unsecured and funding the unfunded. The sad part is that people don't know enough about the kind of products that are available in the market. So the challenge is not in creating products, but ensuring that they are actually made available at the delivery points where a bulk of India's unorganised labour force resides.
This interview was exclusively conducted for Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations.
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