Sunday, June 3, 2012

Learning lessons for Mizoram from Israel

I have got inspired to blog a bit based on the book START UP NATION- story of Israel's Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.

To the reader of the blog you may also wonder why not Singapore or Dubai, while Dubai and Singapore are also small city states, there are not dissimilarities, chief among them being that these 2 city states are basically consumer based cities which rely only on commerce whereas Israel depends more on technological Innovations. Just like the Israel, Mizoram, a small state in Northeastern part of India does not really have any great natural resource like Iron ore, Coal or Oil yet, but like Israel it has got a good human resource which has to be trained and honed well. Another great advantage we have over Israel is that unlike Israel we are not surrounded by enemy states for them like Iran which wants to destroy them, instead we are at the gateway of Asian trade as we are at the northeastern border of India connecting the country to the great economy of China and ASEAN countries.

Well here are some of the lessons below:

1. Army Service- Israel is a country surrounded by enemies, hence they have compulsory military service for all the youth, these youths are further selected based on their merit and trained further on technology as well as on leadership. While it may not  be possible  as well as not required for all the youth to join the army, we could encourage the youth to take part in NSS, Boy Scout kind of activities to build up courage, mental strength and leadership. Also there should be encouragement for those recruited into Military Police to continue their further education while serving in Police or Army in Technology skills (Computer/ Electronic Engineering etc) so that once they retire they would be able to contribute to the economy.

2. Learning Method- While efforts are already being made to stop rote learning in Mizoram, this should be further encouraged. The Youth should be encouraged to question and challenge the establishment so that new innovations can be accomplished. When you have a generation of rote learners, they look for stable jobs like government jobs and do not think of  being entrepreneurs or starting a business of their own. For the economy to take off, what we really need is people who can think out of the box, out of the establishment to create something new which is why Steve Jobs would probably not have been able to make Apple anywhere else in the world but in the US due to the American system of Education. It's not going to be possible for the State government to absorb all University graduates into Government Services, hence instead of encouraging the brightest students to go for Civil Services, it could encourage them to go for Entrepreneurship which will provide employment and build up the GDP and HDI of the state.

3. Venture Capital - Right now in Mizoram we have a very famous policy by the ruling congress party called the New Land Use Policy where the government releases 1 lakh amount to farmers in 2-3 trenches to help start up farming activity and to stop shifting Cultivation. While this is great at a smaller and agricultural level, at a larger level to create more employment (Upto 100 people) as well as to invest to invent new products what is really needed is a start up fund of maybe 50 lakhs to 1 crore fund to encourage the new graduates from Mizoram University where students are doing their education from Computer Engineering to Biotechnology. Instead of the student migrating to somewhere else to search for a job, the government with the help of a venture capital could utilize experienced Entrepreneur + Venture Capitalist (funded from some equity funds)+ Government funding (50 lakhs -1 crore), this could help jump start the economy and make the area near Mizoram University +National Institute of Technology into the Silicon valley of the state as there would be enough students doing research studies as well as Professors to guide students start their new business like HP which was guided by Professors from Stanford University. As is the case with all Venture Capitalist, once the business starts stable operations, they could recover their investments over a period of time.

4. Immigration-  Immigration is a complex issue in Mizoram as there is insecurity among the people that they would be assimilated by the plain people like how the tribal people of Tripura were assimilated by Bengali Hindu's from Bangladesh. But selective migration should be encouraged specially where those entrepreneurs who can provide job will be setting up business in the state, as well as Teachers/ Professors in Engineering/ Medicine of which the state does not have many native people of it's own. In this aspect, student groups like MSU as well as MZP should refrain from collecting donations/extortion from  businessmen outside the state and instead try to encourage big business like Infosys/ Wipro/ Accenture etc to invest in the state so that they can provide employment in the state.  In this respect it's important for the leaders of these student organizations that collecting funds would feed them only for a week or month. Instead they themselves should think of having passive incomes through active investments.  It's also important to encourage the students to move away from general studies like Arts where employment opportunities are limited to studies in Business Management, Science, Engineering and Medicine. Efforts could be made by the government to provide more commerce/skill based education in the district headquarters colleges too so that whatever education the students have had can be immediately utilized.

5. Infrastructure-  While Good Education and Primary Healthcare are of outmost importance at a more basic level, at the next level good Infrastructure ( electricity generation/ good roads/ broadband internet connections etc) have to be set up so that these opportunities do not get passed away.

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