Unemployment is high in this country and increasing rapidly. The demise of the oil industry and the general shift to renewable energy have placed T&T at a near-permanent disadvantage. Equally worrying is the failure of governments to put measures in place to diversify the economy.
This brings me to our education system. Education should be character-building and distinct from training for a job. The truth is that we emphasize neither character nor skill development and training for the job market. Are we jobless brutes!
If today so many Indians are employed in the food industry, it is not by accident. This is happening only because this skill was handed down in the family. For example, the cooking and sale of doubles and meetai are popular because it is integrated into our psyche. Our grandmothers and mothers had found time to pass on these skills to the younger generation.
The same can be said for agriculture. Our farmers have hundreds of years of experience in that field. The skillsets required in producing a crop are ingrained in our collective memory. Our ancestors not only rescued the sugar industry but also diversified the economy. The reality is that it takes more than a diploma or degree in agriculture to be a successful farmer!
Entrepreneurship is also part of our psyche, thus explaining our ability and willingness to take risks. For centuries our ancestors have been building ships and crossing the vast oceans to trade in distant lands. Without entrepreneurs, an economy would never be creative and productive and would descend into poverty, savagery anarchy.
It is not by chance that our youths are excelling in their professions. Learning is integral to our culture and throughout our history, we have never hesitated to embrace change. When the British took charge of Bengal, social reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy took to learning English. This was unlike others who remained rooted in a medieval mindset!
If the community must grow prosperous, we will have to develop a global mindset, that is, to develop our skills to produce goods and services for a global market. This should be our focus if we want to take our rightful place in the changing world order. Information technology is one field that offers many opportunities for all to use to their advantage.
In the Hindu kingdoms of yore, governance was confined to law and order and foreign relations. Free trade was the norm and taxes were minimal. Today democratic governments are putting nooses around their necks by patronizing vote banks, hence this robust culture of state welfarism and political patronage.
Fortunately, a culture of dependency is alien to us and viewed as a major handicap to development. This alien culture must be nipped in the bud. The community has a moral responsibility to guard against political evangelists who come seeking out votes in exchange for hampers. It is akin to cutting off our limbs to make us beggars for life!
The socialist policies of the Indian National Congress and its alignment with communist forces have stifled the creative impulses of the Indian people. Luckily, India embraced free trade under the Narasimha Rao’s government and began climbing the economic ladder. Today India is rated the 6th most significant economy in the world, and it is predicted to move up within the next few years.
The efficacy of our education system must be addressed. It is imperative that Hindus revert to the guru-chela or apprenticeship system. Warren Buffet’s mentor was Ben Graham who taught him to buy underpriced stocks and hold them for long. This million-dollar question is: Where are the Ben Grahams in our country who can mentor those who want to learn?
The culture of dependency is another major handicap to development and must be shunned. This alien culture must be nipped in the bud. The community has a moral responsibility to guard against political evangelists who come seeking out votes in exchange for hampers. It is akin to cutting off our limbs to make us beggars for life!
Another fundament should be excellence in action. That should become a mantra for all who want to succeed in their fields. Sri Krishna did not say that only doctors are intelligent! He asked that all excel in whatever is their duty in society.
The words of Sai Baba must be heeded: “Work is Worship; Duty is God.” This statement addresses our attitude towards the work we do. We must do our work with such dedication that it becomes a pooja.
We need to shun the attitude of blaming everyone for our failures and not taking responsibility for ourselves. Some of the most backward individuals and communities never accept responsibility for their low social situation. If Hindus adopt this culture, they would be signing their death warrants… or, has it been signed already?
By Dool Hanomansingh