SMC was fortunate to interview Dr. Rajeev Gowda, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, who had come down to IIM Bangalore for a panel discussion on India’s 2017 Union Budget that was organized by the Public Policy Club of IIM Bangalore. Excerpts from our interview with him have been compiled in this post.
SMC : A member of parliament, economist and professor. Can you tell us about your different roles sir?
Dr. Rajeev Gowda : I used to teach BGS as a professor at IIM Bangalore. I was passionate about teaching and this excitement would translate into lectures and transfer to people who went through the lectures. People still remember the lectures fondly. My passion for politics was strong from my childhood. I grew up in family of freedom fighters and always wanted to do my bit for the country. Nowadays, I am supposed to know a lot of things within a short span of time. People would ask me about economics and I have to get back to them in 5 mins. To some extent today, I am back in student mode and have been learning new things. Some of it is formal, such as the rules of parliament and details of budget. I am also the party national spokesperson. Now I can say, I practice what I used to preach.
SMC : Sir, how important is education in today’s India ?
Dr. Rajeev Gowda : The world is a complicated place. We need certain amount of knowledge to exercise good judgement today. To understand the world, the forces that operate in it and the overt and covert things that operate, we need education. In this regard, BGS is a very useful lens to understand things that go on in today’s world. A lot of people have picked up knowledge along the way and what we study today is their distilled wisdom that is transferred on to the next generation. There is no end to this process. So many things are changing around us and education needs to keep adapting to changes. Education should be enabling.
SMC : Sir, you have spoken about the need for improving electricity infrastructure in India with waste to energy, green technology and solar based solutions. The union budget proposes complete rural electrification by 2019. What do you feel is the best way to go about this ?
Dr. Rajeev Gowda : We have tremendous amount of coal. We will continue to be dependent on thermal power for some time. But new technologies are developing. Total electrification means there is connection to every village but there is no guarantee that there will be electrical connections to every house. There is also the question of quality of power delivered. Thus, there are many challenges in implementing rural electrification. Innovators need to come up with hybrid solutions that are off-grid and can power villages. This will make a huge difference. Some technologies might sound futuristic, but there is Elon musk showing us some of these technologies are possible. Electricity is empowering and we should get to complete electrification soon.
SMC : There is huge demographic dividend in India. Which is more important in developing India’s workforce and making it competent – Education or Skilling ?
Dr. Rajeev Gowda : Nowadays, we are trying to repair rather than prepare. School education system has to get students engaged right from the start and this is important. The general opinion is that if you just train someone in a job then they will do the same job for rest of their lives. Skilling is only a first step in a person’s career ladder.
The career ladder should lead an employee to become a business owner in the future. But today’s reality is very different. We have many youngsters today with bad educational foundation. If there are no opportunities in market, then there can be unrest. Everyone is aspiration and if the market does not respond with opportunities then it is going to be a different story. Here at IIMB, companies come to recruit students but this is not the situation elsewhere. A lot of challenges are present in getting today’s youngsters a good job and a lot of work needs to be done in this regard.
SMC : On a lighter note, can you tell us about your passion for quizzing and any fond memories you have in this journey ?
Dr. Rajeev Gowda : I read. But, even my reading is aligned with the work I do. My one hobby is quizzing. I still do a little bit of that. I don’t get enough free time these days. We should learn to switch off and unwind.
SMC : One line advice for students.
Dr. Rajeev Gowda : Keep investing in yourselves and the world around you.
(The responses are not verbatim. The content has been written based on Dr. Rajeev Gowda’s responses.)