I would like to share with you an anecdote of a man I know, who repairs watches. One day a watch came to him for repair during which he noticed a manufacturing defect. He then wrote a letter to the watch manufacturing company based in Switzerland pointing out a defect in the design of their product. As it turned out, the points raised by this man proved to be correct and the company not only appreciated the point raised by the man but also had to withdraw the watches from the market.
What does the example of this man show? It clearly shows that innovation knows no boundaries; that every individual possesses the power to innovate. With perfection in work and work culture, the best of innovations can take place. But, a major component of attaining this perfection is acquiring the relevant skills in whatever we seek to do.
We in Gujarat have made this one of our top priorities. As you are aware, the nation is commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Gujarat is celebrating 2012 as the ‘Year of Yuva Shakti’ as a tribute to Swami ji. As a part of the celebrations, we have placed significant focus on enhancing skill development among our youth. Swami Vivekananda himself believed that the future of India depends on its youth. Never before in the history of our nation have we been younger than at present! Today, 72% of our population is below the age of 40, 47% Indians are below the age of 20 whereas only 10% of the global population is under 25. Is this not a great opportunity for us?
Infact, I have always believed that youth power is the answer to the question of whether India or China will lead the world in the 21st century. But, having a massive young population is not enough. There is a need to equip these youngsters with adequate skills and at the same time according proper dignity to each and every skilled profession. Only then will our youth power become our strongest asset.
In order to harness the untapped potential of our youth, our Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) can play an important role. Over the last decade, Gujarat has made a sincere attempt to improve the scope and infrastructure of our ITIs. Courses that were left unchanged for 3 decades were revised, the number and diversity of courses shot up with state-of-the-art infrastructure. From a mere 275 ITIs in 2001 the number of ITIs has shot up 4 fold to 1054. In the past, we only had 3000 ITI trainers but this has now gone up to 6000. We have also opened a window of opportunity by enabling ITI students to pursue Diploma and Engineering courses after their ITI education, thus widening their career horizons.
Friends, this century will rest on 3 major pillars: IT (Information Technology), BT (Bio Technology) and ET (Environment Technology). Though all 3 pillars are important, special attention needs to be paid to ET. Our ITIs can stimulate stellar research in tapping energy from natural resources such as wind, water, sun etc. Infact, I have even urged solar companies to initiate awards which could serve as incentives to stimulate innovation. Such steps can truly benefit all of us.
Every work, no matter how menial it is deserves adequate dignity. An individual performing a skilled task merits tremendous respect. We want to break away from a tendency of not respecting our skilled workforce. For that, instilling a sense of confidence among our skilled workforce can go a long way and that is why we have become the first state to start soft skill trainings in our ITIs emphasizing on overall personality development. Broadening of our mind is as important as skill development. It is essential to understand the larger vision of our deeds and once this happens no work will seem small. For instance, if a technician is working on solar technology there is a quantum of difference if he considers his work as just another mere job or if he works fully realizing that his efforts can make a difference to generations beyond him. When an expanded vision meets a skilled body, wonders can truly happen!
Gujarat has also launched 20 Swami Vivekananda Superior Technology Centres (STCs). These institutions would provide specialized training using state of the art technology. An example of this would be a STC related to Automobile Servicing. With Gujarat emerging as the auto hub of India, the potential in the auto-servicing sector is immense. Similar centres would cater to CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) Technology and Solar Technology.
Handing over appointment letters to youngsters
Friends, the results of some of our efforts are already showing. We are hailing this week as Swami Vivekananda Youth Employment Week. In the course of the week, I would be personally handing over appointment letters to 65,000 youngsters. This is a historic recruitment programme in our country. The aspirations of these youngsters are not theirs alone. We remain committed to turning every young mind into a powerhouse of innovation combined with hard work, dedication and motivation. ITIs can become a natural playground in this endeavor, adding to the opportunities for our youth. With strong skill sets, the will to work harder will increase manifold and so will the zeal to perform. It is this mantra of SKILL + WILL + ZEAL = WIN that will empower Gujarat and enable it to take India to greater heights.
My speech while handing over appointment letters to youngsters at Ahmedabad