Pune: Taking a dig at UPA government's ambitious food security programme, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said India's priority is skill development and merely bringing in the Bill would not feed the needy.
Modi, who was recently appointed as the BJP's election campaign committee chief for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, talked about the lack of skill development in the country. He said the perception that a person who has a certificate is talented and skilled is wrong. "The nation's priority is skill development. We have 65 per cent youth in our country. They are hard working but they lack skills. They have certificates. The Central government thinks that a certificate by itself grants a person skills for employment, just like they believe that the Food Security legislation by itself can feed the nation," Modi said.
Citing the example of the US, the BJP leader said that India should also try to use the research work of its students in the development of the country. "It's unfortunate that India has not used the research work of its students in the development of the nation...Research plays a very important role in a country's development," he said.
Drawing a comparison with China, the Gujarat Chief Minister said that while the neighbouring country has invested 20 per cent of its GDP on education, India has spent just 4 per cent. "China and India are not very different. India used to have two of the five world-recognised educational institutions, but in 10 years that has come down to one. China never had a recognised university; now they have 32," he said.
Modi said, "There is a sense of despondency in the country today" and stressed that there was a need to modernise India without westernising it.
"There is a need to nurture talent for nation building," Modi said, peppering his address with achievements made by the Gujarat government in education and other sectors.
Modi, who once again found himself in the eye of a storm over his recent "puppy" remarks in an interview to a news agency, interacted with students of Fergusson College where he had gone to inaugurate an amphitheatre.
Underlining that education plays a crucial role in a nation's development, Modi said, "If we want to have a good education system, we should create good teachers, which has not been a priority."
Stating that "there is a big difference between 'others' and us", Modi said, "Other people are interested in power. We give priority to empowerment. They want power, we want to empower every citizen of this country."
"I don't want to make any political statements here, but have the expectations from the system been fulfilled?" Modi asked.
"After Independence, had we opted for modern education, we could have done a lot in these 60 years," he said.
In a bid to reach out to the young audience, Modi said he is very active on social media because he wants to connect with the youth of the country. He added that before coming to Pune he had sought suggestions on Facebook from people and was glad to see that 2,500 people gave their advice to him. "My speech today is a reflection of the thoughts of the young generation of this country, including the people who advised me on Facebook," he said.
With Additional Inputs From PTI