Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Skill Development and Job Creation

By Ispita Mishra*
The term ‘Youth’ as defined by the UNESCO – is “the period of transition from dependence to independence and awareness of our independence as members of a community”. India is a young nation with nearly 65 percent of its population under 35 years old[i]. However, this demographic dividend might prove to be dangerous, rather than a boon, as India lacks severely in employment, skills and opportunities.
Indian youth can contribute to higher economic growth; their potential must be aided by substantial policy orientation. The sustainable empowerment of youth can be ensured through the four pillars of education, skills and employment, temperamental change and government policy.
But the number of jobs created annually is inadequate to absorb this growing population of youth in the labour market. Currently, the youth unemployment rate (15-24 years) is 10.1 percent. 43 percent of India’s youth are not in employment, education or training[ii]. The labour market has a lot of informal employment (93 per cent) with just about eight per cent working in the formal sector. 
According to the Annual Report 2016-17, The National Youth Policy 2014 reiterates the commitment of the entire nation to the all-round development of the youth to enable them to realise their full potential and contribute productively to the nation building process. Several new schemes have been launched recently to encourage entrepreneurship among the youth. These include StartUp India, StandUp India, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan.
Skill India partnered with Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to empower rural youth through scalable skilling and also empowered more than 35 lakh women. 3.16 lakh candidates were placed under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojana(PMKVY 2016-20) in less than two years of its launch.
Despite these multiple efforts, India has formally trained just 4.69 percent of the total workforce (15-59 years of age) of about 487 million people in India.[iii] The government’s own data suggests that only about 80,000 people or less than five percent of the total trained candidates were able to secure a placement.
The ministry said it had certified 612,000 candidates who completed training under the PMKVY-2 and 52 per cent of them had been placed. PMKVY-2 aims to spend Rs12,000 crore on skill training 10 million youth between 2016 and 2020.However, the 52 per cent placement record including self-employment and entrepreneurship is way below the mandatory placement requirement of 70 per cent under PMKVY-2.[iv]
Challenges faced
First, industry interface is inadequate and is one of the major issues facing the vocational education and training system in India.[1] Research has also found that the National Skills Development Council has not been able to synchronise course curriculum with industry needs.[v]There is lack of motivated teachers and mentors of quality. 
There is an interfering and overpowering political and bureaucratic setup, outdated and rigid curriculum, non-uniformity in curricula, and limited laboratory based education, especially in basic sciences, which makes the youth disinterested.  Lack of interdisciplinary approach in imparting education makes them unable to use their knowledge practically. Neither the industry nor other stakeholders are consulted in designing the curriculum.
Second, the Indian labour market is not only creating inadequate jobs, but discriminates against recruiting females. Nearly one-third of females did not receive a job offer compared to 15 percent of males.[vi] Women constitute about 48 per cent of the total population but their participation in the labour force is just about 22 per cent.
Third, the challenges of funding, patents and creation of intellectual property remain.  The long process of registration of patents and lack of incentives for research and development is a reason why many start-ups prefer to be domiciled abroad.  Around 90 per cent of funding for start-ups comes from foreign venture capital. According to a recent study, over 94 per cent of new businesses fail during the first year of operation.
Fourth, there is no standardisation of certification of skills training. As there is lack of clarity of available programmes, the employers also lack trust in the integrity and quality of training.  Third party audits are missing and candidates are often not interested in the jobs they get. Moreover, the placement agencies are more focussed on maximising recruitment without adhering to quality standards.
Fifth, there is a major skew in favour of a handful of states when it comes to training candidates. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship claims that the large gap in the number of those trained and those placed is due to “incomplete data” and that it is taking steps to rectify the matter.
Finally, there is no attention given to skills that will allow individuals to grow. There is no focus on creativity, interpersonal skills etc.
For India to have inclusive growth and fully utilise the potential of its demographic dividend, it must find effective ways of skilling its youth.Or else our huge population is in danger of turning out to be a burden rather than a boon.

* Ispita Mishra is Research Assistant at Centre for Public Policy Research. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not represent that of CPPR

[i]Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
[iii]Report of the committee for rationalization & optimization of the functioning of the sector skill councils http://msde.gov.in/report-ssc.html 2017
[iv] https://www.livemint.com/Politics/xKbbusjlsBlCosTedmeIkM/318000-youths-placed-in-jobs-selfemployment-skill-minist.html
[v]Team Lease Services 2018
[vi]Soledad ArtizPrillman et al, 2017, “What Constrains Young Indian Women’s Participation? Evidence form a Survey of Vocational Trainees. https://epod.cid.harvard.edu/files/epod/files/pandeprillamanmooresingh_skillspolicybrief.pdf

Thursday, April 05, 2018


By Mathews Raju*

India’s power sector is highly dependent on thermal and hydroelectric power plants. Thermal power plants mainly use fossil fuels like coal or oil leading to increased pollution and carbon emission. Hydroelectric plants tap energy from water reservoirs, which destroy the natural habitat.
The increasing carbon footprint and environmental degradation has paved the way for energy transition in the country. It is the transition towards a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure energy system that provides solutions to energy related challenges, while creating value for business and society.

The Energy Triangle
The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked India 78th in the Energy Transition Index. This is a performance index, where 126 countries are ranked based on 18 indicators that come under three core dimensions – energy access and security, environmental sustainability, and contribution to economic growth and development. This is referred to as the Energy Triangle. Countries with the highest transition readiness scores lead in the ranking. Transition readiness involves availability of investment and capital, effective regulation and political commitment, stable institutions and governance, supportive infrastructure, human capital and ability of current energy system to accommodate change. Sweden topped the index, followed by Norway and Switzerland.

Key findings of the report:
·        Over the last five years, more than 80 per cent of countries improved their energy systems, but further effort is needed to resolve the world’s energy related challenges.
•  Countries can foster progress in three ways – by establishing favourable conditions for energy system stakeholders, by targeting improvement across all triangle dimensions, and by pursuing improvement levers with synergistic impact across the system.
      Countries follow different transition paths and need to develop country specific roadmaps. Comparative analysis among peers can highlight opportunities for improvement.
   Removal of fossil fuel subsidies and reduction of energy intensity showed synergistic impact on energy triangle.

India’s Performance
India is one of the largest consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases. Between 2013 and 2018, the country’s performance score improved by 5.6 per cent due to improved energy access, reduced subsidies and reduced import costs. India has the largest government mandated renewable energy programme, with a target of 175 GW renewable energy capacities by 2022. The country plans to shift to electric vehicles by 2030, and has cancelled the construction of nearly 14 GW of coal-fired power stations. However, there are no improvements in technical and commercial losses.
In the Energy Transition Index, India has scored 15 percentage points below average in economic development and growth, 9 percentage points in environmental sustainability and average points in security and access.
Subsidies for solar devices are making solar energy cheaper in India, but transitioning from traditional methods of energy conversion has caused huge job losses in the sector.

*Mathews Raju is Programme Intern with CPPR. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not reflect that of CPPR.

Are Indo–Canadian Relations Still Short of a Strategic Partnership?

by J Paul Zachariah*

When the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, planned his weeklong visit to India, the Canadian establishment would have never anticipated the hugely negative publicity it received in the Indian and Canadian media. Prime Minister Trudeau’s official visit, which began more like a family vacation, was, in fact, not even a shadow of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Canada in April 2015, when Stephen Harper was the Prime Minister.
If Prime Minister Modi’s Canadian visit resulted in Indo–Canadian relations maturing into an effective partnership, the one indelible takeaway message from Trudeau’s visit was ‘Khalistan’, apart from his ill-advised choice of traditional Indian wear. And this, unfortunately, would loom large over the whole visit leading to a series of events and non-events that compelled Canada’s ‘National Post’ to have this as their front-page headline – “Colourful, classy but snubbed”. One commentator on CNBC went as far as calling the visit a ‘slow moving train wreck’.
However, not all may be lost with this visit. A two-way trade deal amounting to C$1 billion was inked, with Indian companies pledging to invest C$250 million in Canada, particularly in the pharma and IT sectors. On the flip side, of the C$750 million coming to India, about C$480 million would be from Toronto’s Brookfield Asset Management to buy a 1.25 million-square-foot office space in Mumbai.
What then is the crux of India’s relations with Canada? How much does a US$2.4 trillion India need a US$1.6 trillion Canada, and vice-versa? Is there a real strategic dimension to the bilateral relations of these two nations, when compared to India’s recent strengthening of ‘strategic partnerships’ with countries like Israel, Japan, Australia and France?  

The Nature of Indo-Canadian Relations
Indo-Canadian relations, since India tested an atomic device in the 1970s, had been modest and never evoked much interest in either party, except for the Indian diaspora and bilateral trade.

Indian Diaspora
Canada has one of the largest concentrations of Indian diaspora. About 3.54 per cent of Canadians (1.6 million) have an Indian heritage. In 2016, remittances to India from Canada amounted to US$2.6 billion, as per a World Bank report. With over 100,000 Indian students studying in Canada, India is the second largest source of international students for their universities and colleges.

Trade & Industry
Statistics from government sources show that bilateral trade between India and Canada was worth US$6.13 billion in 2016–17, making India Canada’s largest trading partner in South Asia. With a value of over C$1.1 billion and accounting for over 27.5 per cent of Canada’s global pulse exports, pulses formed the largest part of Canada’s exports to India. Over 400 Canadian companies operate in India, while Canada plays host to more than 1000 India companies. Canadian and Indian newspapers report that Fairfax Holdings, owned by Prem Watsa, a prominent Indo-Canadian, has acquired a 51-per-cent stake in the Catholic Syrian Bank, a Kerala based private bank. The C$200 million in this deal is part of the C$750 million Canadian FDI into India that PM Justin Trudeau was talking about.

Nuclear Energy
Canada, under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of Justin Trudeau, had banned uranium exports to India after it conducted its first atomic test in the 1970s, where Canadian radioactive products were extensively used. It took a rather long time for the subsequent thaw in Indo–Canadian nuclear relations. Though a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) with Canada was signed in June 2010, the process dragged on, until Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada in 2015, when India’s Department of Atomic Energy signed a C$350 million contract with the Canadian company Cameco Corporation to purchase 3.2 million kilograms of uranium concentrate over the next five years. The first three shipments have already arrived in India. 

Canada’s Defence Exports
Canada has a rather strange and restrictive policy on the export and import of strategic and defence items mandated by their Export and Import Permits Act. This Act provides for an Export Control List (ECL), which includes military, dual use, and strategic goods and technology. Items on this list can only be sold to a country that is on the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL), which presently has about 40 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait and Colombia but not India. Despite this, not all exports are governed by the AFCCL. Government to government sale of items on the ECL is allowed to non- AFCCL nations with an export license from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
Canadian defence exports saw an increase of 89 per cent under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The incumbent Liberal government has not cancelled some seemingly controversial arms deals inked by the Conservatives, like the US$12 billion deal with Saudi Arabia. But some others have fallen through, like the recent US$235 million contract with the Philippines for the sale of 16 Bell helicopters. Just days after the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she will not hesitate to stop the delivery of the aircraft to the Philippines if it were to be used against insurgents, the Philippine government cancelled the deal. On the one hand, Canada’s Liberal government behaves like an ‘international do-gooder’ on the pretext of upholding ‘human rights’ and ‘gender equality’, while on the other, they sell military equipment to countries like Saudi Arabia, which has used them in a violent crackdown on minority Shias in the eastern part of the country. Interestingly, the Liberal government of Canada had denied export permit of firearms (under category 2-1 of the ECL) to India in 2016, stating that India was not on the AFCCL. Dwelling on Canada’s ‘feminist foreign policy’ vis-a-vis its arms trade, Srdjan Vucetic, of the University of Ottawa, calls Canada ‘A Nation of Feminist Arms Dealers’ (Vucetic, 2017).

Are India and Canada Strategic Partners in Defence and Security?
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Canada was intended to give a boost to India’s defence and security cooperation with Canada. During the visit, Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Harper paid a visit to the Kanishka Air India Memorial in a symbolic gesture of Indo–Canadian commitment towards fighting terrorism. The two governments claimed there had been, “a robust cooperation on counter terrorism issues particularly through the framework of the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism.” India and Canada enjoy a strategic partnership, at least that is what the Canadian government claims. However, a closer look at the defence and strategic aspects reveals a slightly different picture.
India and Canada have not conducted any major joint military or naval exercises, except as part of multilateral exercises like the International Fleet Review or the RIMPAC. The closest to what could be called a bilateral joint exercise was when the HMCS Winnipeg of the Royal Canadian Navy made a port call at Mumbai in May 2017 and conducted joint exercises with the Indian stealth frigate the INS Teg. Considering Canada’s apprehensions on China’s ambitious ‘Polar Silk Road’ that makes the Arctic Ocean and Canada’s ‘Northwest Passage’ susceptible to Beijing’s hegemonic interference, it would be in its best interests to forge a strategic maritime relation with India.
In April 2017, when the Indian born Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan visited India, there was much talk particularly from Canada on how they wanted to bolster defence trade with India. The Canadian media reported that the value of Canada’s defence exports to India was C$5.4 million in 2015, as per a report by their government. But in 2016, the value of defence exports to India dropped to a mere C$654,320 or just 0.09 per cent of Canada’s total arms exports (excluding those to the US) of C$717 million. Canada has also not registered (till this was being written) for the India Defence Expo 2018 scheduled to be held from April 11–14 in Chennai, though it participated with much fanfare the last time.
With a pro-left Liberal government in power, it might not be easy for Indo–Canadian bilateral relations to develop into an effective strategic partnership in defence and security. However, Indian and Canadian businesses could develop stronger relations in some industries, where Canada offers world-class technology and services like aerospace, electronics, simulation and training, textiles, and satellite and space technologies. Already, India’s growing domestic airline industry, including the largest player (Spice Jet) and the newest player (Zoom Air) has started buying new aircraft from the Canadian company Bombardier.

Bridging Barriers
India and Canada are yet to finalise two very important agreements, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and Bilateral Investment Promotion and Partnership Agreement (BIPPA/FIPA). It is hoped that these agreements would create a healthy environment for business and investment through legally binding rights and obligations.
“Bridging the Barriers with Canada,” was how the personal web portal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi titled its statement on his visit to Canada in 2015. It seems even in 2017 that process is yet to be effectively reciprocated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government. 
“Let’s not forget there’s a race to get to India’s door. We’re competing against Japan, the French, the Australians, and this is an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate how we can contribute and make a true partnership.”
(Jaswinder Kaur, Director of the Canada–India Centre of Excellence in Ottawa, 2015)

*J Paul Zachariah is guest writer with CPPR.. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not reflect that of CPPR.

1.     National Post. Twitter Post. February 20, 2018, 8:14 PM.
2.     Pant, Harsh. 2018. Explaining Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s Chilly Reception in India. The Diplomat, 22 February.
3.     Qing, Goh Dan. 2018. “Justin Trudeau's India Visit Deemed a 'Slow-Moving Train Wreck' amid Claims He Was 'Snubbed'.” CNBC, 22 February.
4.     Rabson, Mia. 2018. “Trudeau Announces Canadian-Indian Investment Deal Worth $1 Billion.” The Star, 20 February.
5.     World Bank Bilateral Remittance Matrix 2016. http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/migrationremittancesdiasporaissues/brief/migration-remittances-data
6.     “World Economic Outlook Database October 2017.” International Monetary Fund, www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2017/02/weodata/index.aspx.
7.     Gopakumar, Gopika. 2018. “Fairfax to Acquire 51% Stake in Catholic Syrian Bank.” Livemint, 17 February.
8.     Government of Canada. 2018. “Canada and India Relations.” Global Affairs Canada, High Commission of Canada in India.
9.     Government of Canada. 2017. “Report on Exports of Military Goods from Canada.” Global Affairs Canada, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
10.   Grevatt, Jon. 14 February 2018. “Philippines Formally Cancels Helicopter Contract with Canada.” IHS Janes Defense Weekly.
11.   Kwong, Matt. 2015. “5 Reasons India Matters so Much to Canada.” CBC/Radio Canada, 16 April.
12.   Kassam, Ashifa. 2018. “Justin Trudeau Defends Canada's Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia.” The Guardian, 21 March. www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/21/justin-trudeau-defends-canada-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia.
13.   Tuckey, Sarah. 2017. "The New Era of Canadian Feminist Foreign Policy." Canadian International Council. https://thecic.org/the-new-era-of-canadian-feminist-foreign-policy/.
14.   Vucetic, Srdjan. 2017. "A Nation Of Feminist Arms Dealers? Canada And Military Exports". International Journal 72 (4). doi:10.1177/0020702017740156.
15.   Fife, Robert & Steven Chase. 2017. "China Used Research Mission To Test Trade Route Through Canada’s Northwest Passage".  The Globe and Mail, 10 September. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/china-used-research-mission-to-test-trade-route-through-canadas-northwest-passage/article36223673/.
16.   Shah, Aditi. 2017. “Bombardier Aims to Double Fleet Size to over 40 Aircraft in India.” Livemint, 9 February.
17.   “Bridging the Barriers with Canada.” www.narendramodi.in, 18 Apr. 2015. www.narendramodi.in/bridging-the-barriers-with-canada-7442.