The chamcha factor

Pahlaj Nihalani’s declaration that he’s a ‘Modi chamcha’ reflects growing sycophancy across parties
By Sagarika Ghose – Parties are afraid of open and honest ideological debates because they believe that any new idea could lead to loss of vote banks.

Governments pay lip service to making India better for entrepreneurs, yet chamchagiri is killing the space for political entrepreneurs.

Politicians who have new marketable ideas can’t hope to be heard, they have to set up their own parties. Today, personal loyalty has become a substitute for political ideology.

Since there is no space for debate and dialogue, anyone who questions is seen as a rebel, be it Yogendra Yadav in Aam Aadmi Party or Biswa Sarma in Congress or Shatrughan Sinha and Kirti Azad in BJP.

Discordant voices are stilled in the name of party discipline. more>


A framework for clean environment

The Times of India report, “As you burn, so shall you reap” (June 12, 2016), highlights the health hazards, incompetence and counter-productive actions by authorities regarding waste management in Kerala.

The report says, “People continue to burn plastic waste in the open because the local authorities have not put in place a system to clear it. Waste burning can controlled if people are made aware of the ill effects. Before pushing ahead with disciplinary actions, local self government bodies should ensure setting up collection points for recycling agents, says experts.”

Unfortunately, awareness building and punitive measures alone will not take care of waste and garbage disposal. Effective waste management consists of integrated and sustainable waste systems, processes and strategies.

Learning and adapting from the experience of other successful countries can help finding a solution. Nepal [2, 3, 4], Japan [2, 3, 4] and Sweden [2, 3, 4] have successfully developed and implemented effective waste management solutions.

Best Practices on Solid Waste Management of Nepalese Cities” by Practical Action Nepal describes successful best practices and help understand the roles of various organizations in effective waste management. This study focuses only on examples of best practices that worked, and does not cover schemes that failed, or theoretical cases never implemented.

Solid Waste Management and Recycling Technology of Japan” by the Ministry of the Environment provides a comprehensive overview of waste management methods and technologies used in Japan for management and disposal of waste. With limited landfill disposal sites, Japan has developed a system to collect and transport waste, process it through intermediary treatment by incineration and other methods, and then dispose it in landfills in a sanitary manner to prevent environmental pollution, especially in areas surrounding densely populated cities. Japan is a leader in waste incineration technology for safely disposing waste, while generating electricity efficiently.

A Strategy for Sustainable Waste Management (Sweden’s Waste Plan)” by Swedish Environmental Protection Agency discusses the scope and depth of waste management in Sweden. Sweden’s sustainable waste management is based of the country’s sustainable development goals. “Sustainable development means that all political decisions are to be formulated taking account of their long-term economic, social and environmental implications.” Also, “when it comes to waste, Sweden is very much at the forefront, and there is thus great potential for commercial export of technologies and know-how, even to rich countries.” In fact, Swedish waste management is so effective that there is shortage of waste and the country is importing garbage.

Using this background, here is a framework for solving waste management problems in Kerala:

Starting point for effective waste management is understanding people, systems and technologies.

Here are the operating principles to be adopted:

  1. Simple, efficient and clear stakeholder responsibilities.
  2. Promote awareness, understanding and a vision about waste management in the Kerala context.
  3. Local government entities are responsible for collecting, intermediate processing and disposing of household and similar waste, except for the product categories covered by producer responsibility.
  4. Sorting of waste at source.
  5. Sorting of waste must be simple.
  6. Treat waste management as a basic infrastructure need similar to water, power or roads.

And here are the implementation steps:

  1. Implement education programs to promote 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).
  2. Develop and popularize waste management desired outcomes.
  3. Waste management must be made part of initial construction: For any type of construction, either residential or commercial, the responsible local government entity should enforce basic requirements to reduce and segregate waste at source. For example, local self-government entities should consider making household composting and separate containers for recyclables mandatory, before approving construction proposals.
  4. Develop regional networks for waste collection and transportation. Maybe divide the state into 5 regions, centered around main cities in the state: Thiruvananthapuram [2, 3, 4], Kollam [2, 3, 4], Kochi [2, 3, 4], Thrissur [2, 3] and Kozhikode [2, 3, 4].
  5. Develop regional
    • composting centers,
    • intermediate waste processing centers for sorting, recycling and compacting for long distance transport,
    • incinerator plants with pollution controls,
    • hazardous waste processing disposal centers, and
    • landfills.
  6. Collect data necessary to measure the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of waste management activities. Evaluate collected data and implement improvements.
  7. Enforce compliance with waste management norms and standards.

Once a full-scale plan is developed, there is no need to get loans [2, 3] for implementing the plan, the “normal” project financing method in Kerala.

There is a huge amount of money on deposit in the banks in Kerala: “Bank deposits in Kerala up 53 per cent at Rs 407,000 cr ($61B)” [2], not including the gold holdings. The New York Times reports, “With only 3 percent of India population, Kerala gobbles up 20 percent of the country’s gold every year, and the World Gold Council estimates that India, the largest consumer of gold in the world, consumes 30 percent of the global supply.” [2, 3, 4, 5, 6] For comparison, Kerala GDP is $59B (2014). Kerala bank deposits is about 103.4 per cent of GDP.

If effective programs are implemented for channelizing the bank deposits, not to mention gold holdings, into systems for capital formation, Kerala can jumpstart economic development without relying on loans. That, unfortunately, will require a whole lot of changes for which the political will may not be available. For starters, people (depositors) may not trust the current political system to spend their money wisely.



Development projects require visionary leadership

The Times of India report, “KMRL drops walkway, bicycle track plans” (June 19, 2016), illustrates the challenges with half-baked, halfhearted implementation of development projects in Kerala.

The report says, “Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. (KMRL) has shelved its plan to construct covered walkways and bicycle tracks connecting Maharaja’s College station and Ernakulam boat jetty. The Metro agency had announced the Rs 9 crore ($1.35m) project as part of its efforts to promote non-motorized transport.”

It is a shame that the Metro organization (KMRL) is giving up on its vision of providing leadership for transportation in Kochi, even before the Metro becomes operational. A KMRL spokesperson said, “The hospital wanted KMRL to construct the foundation for a 10-floor building and the college wanted us to take up renovation of certain buildings.”

It is shameful that the hospital (Ernakulam general hospital) and the college (Maharaja’s College) are making such demands on KMRL. KMRL responsibility is providing “world-class” transportation infrastructure for Kochi. Constructing foundation for a hospital building or renovating college buildings are not their mandate. But the temptation to take advantage of KMRL is understandable. Kochi Metro is progressing better than other construction projects in Kerala. So why not dump the hospital’s and college’s construction needs on KMRL. (Since the hospital and the college are Kerala government institutions with limited autonomy, the shame may actually belong to the Kerala government.)

While the hospital and the college should be ashamed for making such demands, KMRL should not give up so easily. KMRL response point to a leadership deficit. KMRL has leadership deficit is in at least two areas:

  • Insufficient understanding of how to develop a vision and build buy-in from stakeholders, and
  • Organization resilience.

The report says, “the Metro agency pointed out that public would benefit from the project and so they put in a request to provide land which remained unutilized near the compound walls of the two establishments.” Merely pointing out the logical reasons why the hospital and the college need to support KMRL’s efforts is not enough.

The college and the hospital are historical institutions of Kerala. Naturally, they are brimming with “Kerala culture.” Prominent part of Kerala culture is obstructionism. So KMRL need to do better than make a request, if KMRL intends to stay true to its founding ideals. KMRL needs to build leadership capabilities to refine its vision and develop organization capabilities to mobilize stakeholders to support its vision. Otherwise, decay will set in and KMRL will become one among the many failed institutions in Kerala.


Sans industrial development, better to leave minerals in the ground

The Times of India feature, “Time for a resource rethink” (June 8, 2016), points out the problems of over-fishing and underutilization of the mineral resources in Kerala.

The report says, “There are about 44 rivers in Kerala and the river run-off associated with the rainfall brings fertility to the coastal waters leading to increase in phytoplankton. The abundant food servers as pasture for all age groups of sardine.”

Along with other causes, discharge of polluting effluents into rivers must be a reason for the drastic declines in fish catch along Kerala coast. According to the report, estimated Oil Sardine catch was 720,270 (2012) and 265,667 (2015) tonnes, a decline of 63 per cent. While estimated Penaeid Prawn catch was 252,300 (2012) and 199,195 (2015) tonnes, a decline of 15 per cent. And estimated catch of Ribbon fishes was 234,766 (2012) and 20,659 (2015), a decline of 91.4 per cent. Controlling river pollution will have the added benefit of improving fishery resources in the ocean.

The report says, “The state is yet to make even titanium sponge [2, 3, 4] which would have earned good profits,” said Dr. K Soman, former head of resource and analysis section, National Centre for Earth Science Studies.The value of the mineral resources is not in mining and exporting ore, but in post processing and manufacturing value added products. Therefore, natural resource mining plans must be complemented with industrial development. In addition, effective steps for preventing environmental degradation and pollution must also be taken.

Otherwise, it may be better to leave the mineral resources in the ground.


Political engineering a development project

The Times of India feature, “Still a pipe dream” (June 7, 2016), illuminates underlying causes for delays with development projects in Kerala: Thoughtless project planning and lack of buy-in from people and stakeholders.

“The LNG plant [2] at Puthuvype [2] has the capacity of 5 MMTA (million metric tonne per annum) but uses only less than 10 per cent of it,” the report says. “Land acquisition for the project began in 2007. During 2007-2015 period, authorities could secure consent only for a length of 17km from land owners,” the report adds. “In the next one year period, we took over around 16km more,” said former chief secretary, Jiji Thomson.

The total length of pipeline is 1,100km, of which 503km is in Kerala. At this rate (3.67km per year), it would take 137 years and 3 months to complete Kerala portion of land acquisition for the project.

Land owners fear that the land would be rendered unusable once the pipes are laid. “Still, authorities pay just 50 per cent of the fair value,” said Nasarudheen Elamaram, district president SDPI, one of the organizations which is in the forefront of the agitations against the project. Another issue which is yet to be addressed is the apprehension regarding safety. “The LNG that pass through the pipe has a pressure of more than 90kg/cm2. This poses a huge risk as the pipes could burst. A couple of years ago LNG pipe in Andra Pradesh [2, 3] had burst killing many, How can the authorities ensure safety?” asks C R Neelakandan, environmentalist and AAP leader. “As far as we know it is a project to supply LNG to industries in other states,” he added.

It seems the primary use of the LNG gas is in Tamil Nadu [2, 3] and Karnataka [2, 3], but the LNG plant is located in Kerala. The logical choice for locating the LNG plant would have been Mangaluru [2], based on the current layout. It would have avoided “land acquisition (or, right-to-use)” problems in Kerala. The problem with such a plan is there would be no opportunity for publicity that the “LNG plant was given to Kerala.” It seems that the location of the LNG plan was decided based on political calculations and not on the basis economic/ technical merit.

Authorities should have taken a more thoughtful approach in the rights-conscious Kerala. The planned pipeline runs through about 3/4 of the length of Kerala, but most of the use for the gas is outside the state. Now, the authorities have only themselves to blame for the lack of progress with land acquisition or “right-to-use of land.”

The LNG plant project may be an example of “political engineering” of industrial projects, instead of thoughtless planning. In either case, it is a lesson being learned, if at all, the hard way.


Think big for overall development

Kerala needs to think big for overall development, says The Times of India feature: “State needs to think big for overall development” (May 23, 2016). Absolutely!

But the plans need to be comprehensive and integrated covering all sectors for the whole state, instead of the current piecemeal, fragmented, ad-hoc approach. Current diffused efforts (if successful) produce only a fraction of the benefits and advantages that can be achieved with an integrated holistic approach.

“Social infrastructure is the key to develop IT parks. More IT parks should be started in rural areas and they should be self-sustained in townships having all kinds of social infrastructure like schools, entertainment facilities, shops, etc. Then only renowned IT firms and professional would set their feet here,” said a top bureaucrat on condition of anonymity (“Time to revamp roads and waterways”) [2]. Clearly, the “top bureaucrat” has no idea how to make Kerala IT sector better, or even a minimal understanding of the necessary ingredients for a high performance IT sector.

Recently there were reports about Kerala IT achievements: “Kerala’s FY15 IT exports touch Rs 10,000 crore” ($1.5 billion). But the achievement is hardly a case for celebration, instead what is needed is introspection. The global IT spending was $3.8 trillion (2014). So Kerala share of IT industry is 0.039% of the global IT spending. In other words, Kerala share of IT is less than one-half of one-tenth of 1% of global IT. The good news is that scope for improvement is tremendous.

Clearly, repeating past failed strategies will not produce better results — fundamental changes are necessary — especially since whole IT industry is undergoing a paradigm shift.

The report adds, “The practice of inviting companies by offering land and other facilities at below market rate should end. Rather, the state should start making efforts to use IT as a tool to enhance the performance of every industry.” (“Bin old concepts, says IT industry”) [2]. Definitely.

So far real estate developments were camouflaged as IT, expecting the advantages and benefits of an IT industry. It is high time to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and correct them for a better future.

“Tourism in Kerala turned into a Rs 24,885.44 crore ($3.372 billion) revenue generating activity hosting 12.62 million domestic and foreign tourists in 2014,” says the report (“Re-branding & new products will bring change”). To put it in perspective, global tourism revenue was $1.245 trillion (2014). In other words, Kerala share is 0.27% of the global tourism industry. Or, Kerala tourism was less than one-third of 1% of global tourism.

For all the hype surrounding tourism, there are many negatives from tourism for the local economy. According to United Nations Environment Programme: “The direct income for an area is the amount of tourist expenditure that remains locally after taxes, profits, and wages are paid outside the area and after imports are purchased; these subtracted amounts are called leakage. In most all-inclusive package tours, about 80% of travelers’ expenditures go to the airlines, hotels and other international companies (who often have their headquarters in the travelers’ home countries), and not to local businesses or workers. In addition, significant amounts of income actually retained at destination level can leave again through leakage.”

In addition, “A study of tourism ‘leakage’ in Thailand estimated that 70% of all money spent by tourists ended up leaving Thailand (via foreign-owned tour operators, airlines, hotels, imported drinks and food, etc.). Estimates for other Third World countries range from 80% in the Caribbean to 40% in India.”

Trying to build the infrastructure needs of tourism in isolation is not viable. But it can be achieved by an integrated approach for transforming the Kerala economy to be sustainable.


A pseudo education reform

The Times of India feature, “In the balance: Future of schools & students” (June 6, 2016) reports about planned education reforms by the Kerala government.

Kerala education minister C Ravindranath said, “No school will be closed down for want of students.” The minister also said, “We are planning to create a comprehensive master plan to revitalize every school.” The minister’s statements are illogical at best. First step for starting a reform process is defining the issues/ problems that need to be resolved. At present there seems to be a consensus that education needs reform, without identifying:

  1. Why there is need for reforms?
  2. What need to be reformed?

Without identifying these, embarking on a reform is more for giving an impression that something is being done, without actually fixing the root causes.

What is the purpose of “a comprehensive master plan to revitalize every school” (especially, for those schools without any students?) Also, the proposed “revitalization master plan” is unlikely to be effective or useful, since preconceived decisions have been made already. It seems the scope of the master plan exercise is limited to justify the intended decisions.

Your report sums up the current situation: “Net result is that children flock to English medium private schools, leaving govt/ aided schools in the lurch. Such schools, that are a liability, become uneconomical.” [2, 3]

The current situation is due to lack of objective standards for education. Apparently, as the report says, the yardstick used to measure schools is: “A school is termed uneconomic if it has less than 25 students in one class and its total student strength is below 100.” The report also points out that there were 5,437 “uneconomic schools in 2015-16.”

Without a functioning economy, Kerala government has a difficult time assessing the effectiveness of its biggest industry: education. In a normal economy, one could measure the effectiveness of a school by collecting the employment statistics of its past students, such as occupations, income levels, etc. Since such objective measures are not feasible, Kerala government has defined a phantom measure: “uneconomic schools.” No wonder, the quality of Kerala education is pathetic.

According to the feature, “the question of saving teaching jobs crop up and closure of schools are opposed, with children from poor families used as pawns to avert closure. For most parents, if not all, the closure of a government or aided school is a crisis faced by the teachers attached to that school.” It seems the hidden problem being solved is loss of teaching jobs, and not quality of education.

Even with all these activities, there is lack of discussion about a proven method for improving quality of education. According to Matthew M. Chingos and Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, a reliable way to enhance quality of education is to improve student-teacher ratio: “it appears that very large class-size reductions, on the order of magnitude of 7-10 fewer students per class, can have significant long-term effects on student achievement and other meaningful outcomes. These effects seem to be largest when introduced in the earliest grades, and for students from less advantaged family backgrounds.” [2, 3, 4]

Education minister also said, according to the report, “Give me two years and ‘protected’ teachers will be scientifically deployed.” One simple solution, apparently not being considered, is improving student-teacher ratio, which automatically enhances student learning. (The ‘protected’ teachers is a curious concept.)

Based on available information, the planned “comprehensive master plan” for education reform is far from any real education reforms, but a justification for already determined actions. Here are two recommendations to really improve quality of education in Kerala:

  1. Improve student-teacher ratio, and
  2. Develop and implement a genuine education reform plan, without predetermined outcomes.

Higher education management needs reorganization

University Grants Commission (UGC) is the organization responsible for improving the quality of education in India. Education institutions in India need huge quality improvement. However, the structure of the UGC seems to be an inhibiting factor for achieving its mission.

The Times of India feature, “Varsities fail to utilize UGC plan fund” (May 18, 2016) [2, 3, 4, 5, 6] highlights that the management and operation of the universities in Kerala are in a mess. However, the universities are not the only ones to share the blame.

Your report says, “With less than a year left for the plan period (2012-2017) to expire, there is apprehension that most of the institutions may lose 40% to 50% of the money allocated to them. The objective of this UGC scheme is to improve the infrastructure and basic facilities at universities so as to help them ‘achieve at least the threshold level and promote enhancement of quality.'” The use of funds “includes construction and renovation of buildings, campus development, appointing staff, funding for books and journals, innovative research activities, ICT requirements, health center, creating student amenities, university-industry linkages and publication grant.”

These UGC programs fail miserably as the universities do not even attempt to make an effort. “The major reason for the failure to utilize allocated funds is their inability to take decisions, lack of initiative, leadership and planning.” However, the UGC may share part of the blame. The report adds, “a university registrar who didn’t wish to be quoted said, ‘sometimes universities do prepare projects and spend the money, but it gets stuck as UGC raises objections and reject it.'” In addition, “conflicts between university officials syndicate members as well as the financial and audit teams can lead to confusion and delay and delay in submitting necessary documents. I will inquire into why we have failed to utilize the released grant money,” said MG university vice chancellor Babu Sabastian (“Lack of planning land them in a mess”).

Your feature also points out a critical data: India “spend only 0.6% of GDP on higher education, while in the US it is 2.7%.” This shows there is huge funding gap for higher education in India.

Your feature identifies another important factor for improving education quality: “Trying to solve academic problems through academic reforms alone won’t help, unless one addresses the administrative and financial issues.”

Based on the reports, higher education in India needs drastic reforms.

The current command-and-control model of the UGC needs to be converted into a model based on collaboration. At present, the universities requests grants from the UGC, and UGC approves the grant proposals. But UGC can second-guess the universities and deny the funds. This puts the universities in a bind, since they lack independent funding sources. This is probably the reason for under utilization of UGC grants.

So the fund approval process in the UGC need to separated out from the auditing function. Maybe the audit function can performed by an autonomous agency responsible for auditing all central government funding for all sectors, making it possible to have uniformity in performance, and develop data on funding needs and utilization for all sectors.

Currently, universities are left to their on devices for project planning, management and execution. Since the needs are common, UGC could take the initiative to develop organization and project prototypes for common development needs universities have. And provide know-how and knowledge transfer for effective project planning and execution.

Another problem apparent from the reports is the centralized nature of UGC funding system. Rather than allocating funds at the university level, decentralize funding to smallest-operating-unit level. For example, a chemistry department in a university could request and get funding for improving their lab facilities without involving the whole university bureaucracy. Or, a university facilities department could request and obtain UGC funds for an auditorium without involving all of the university.

Also, why should the funding be based on 5-year plan periods. Each projects has its own natural lifecyle. Many will require less than 5 years, but others may take more than 5 years. Government of India has abolished the socialistic centralized planning. It is high time UGC also abandoned centralized planning vestiges. Instead of plan funds expiring at the end of plan terms, continue to make funds available to deserving projects without having to duplicate proposal activities.

To sum up,

  1. Change current command-control UGC model to a decentralized model based on collaboration.
  2. UGC should provide project/ organization know-how and knowledge transfer for effective project planning and execution to universities.
  3. Eliminate fund expiration at plan periods, but make funds available throughout the lifecycle of deserving projects.
  4. Decentralize, and distribute funds to smallest operating units within universities. For example, students, staff, departments.
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Improve government efficiency by decentralizing authority

Currently, Kerala government concentrates authority and distributes responsibility, creating bottlenecks, inefficiency and lack of responsiveness.

The Times of India report, “Periyar [2] pollution: Notice to paper mill” (May 5, 2016) [2, 3, 4] offers an illustration of this problem. The reports details inaction and delays in dealing with pollution in Kerala.

The report says, “Covering a distance of 1.5km from Pathalam [2] bund to Pathalam bridge, the river had turned black. It’s a cause of major concern as this water is supplied by KWA (Kerala Water Authority) to people. The conventional purification done by the company is not sufficient to remove chemical pollutants,” said Martin Devassykutty, and environmentalist.

“Despite repeated complaints, the district administration, police, local self-government authorities and the KSPCB (Kerala State Pollution Control Board) have failed to prevent this. It;s an open secret,” adds the report.

Inaction about river pollution on the part of the authorities is obvious. Part of the reason could be lack of clearly defined roles and assigned responsibilities for the various agencies involved. Why is the police involved? There is a tendency in Kerala to involve police in all sorts of things. Unless there is a law and order issue, it should not be the responsibility of the police. Otherwise, the effectiveness of the police in its core mission, law and order, suffers.

“Yes, Kochi drinks this water. If chemical effluents are discharged into the river, it calls for intervention by the highest authorities in the state. The KWA follows a conventional process of purifying water before distributing it to residents,” said Babu Thomas superintending engineer, KWA.

It seems there is a diffusion of responsibilities across too many government agencies. But decisions are to be made at the “highest authorities in the state.” This arrangement promotes inefficiency, delays, and opportunities to “pass-the-buck.” If the goal is operational efficiency and effectiveness, then authority to take actions proportional to the responsibilities also need to be delegated to the agency with the mission. Kerala government roles and responsibilities seems to be designed to cause bureaucratic delays, inaction and increase control and power vested with the “highest authorities in the state” (“KWA is ‘helpless”).

KWA is the water distribution agency for Kerala. Therefore, all responsibilities and authority related to providing clean water must be vested with the KWA. KWA should have the ability for real-time monitoring of water quality, take all necessary actions against polluters, including taking immediate actions in hazardous situations. The proper role for the “highest authorities in the state” is oversight of the KWA, and not getting involved in the operational actions necessary for the KWA to fulfill its mission.

Kerala government needs to be reorganized. Decentralize and distribute authority proportional to responsibilities to increase efficiency and effectiveness. And implement oversight capabilities for accountability.


It’s education, stupid!

Even the political parties in Kerala have accepted the need for education reform. The Times of India reports, “For the first time, political parties have accepted that education sector in the state is facing quality erosion” (The steep learning curve, May 8, 2016). It is a welcome sign, as admission of a problem is the first step for finding a solution.

Former vice chancellor of M G University A Sukumaran Nair correctly says, “the practice of blindly aping one system or other should be discouraged.” However, the problems facing education in Kerala are deeper than a matter of curriculum development and eliminating political interference. The whole education system in Kerala needs an overhaul.

The current education model is as follows. Teachers with the correct credentials teach approved syllabus conforming to the authorized curriculum. Students are expected to become knowledgeable at least to a minimum level of the prescribed syllabus, verified through gating examinations. Those passing the examinations are declared qualified and are granted certificates making them eligible to apply for different job categories and other education opportunities. This model worked and was sufficient when the British were ruling India, and wanted the graduates to function only in supporting roles.

Current system is obsolete and we need people who excel and have leadership capabilities in all fields. For this the education system needs both structural and content changes.

Internet makes easy access to information, knowledge and experts globally. Individual skills required now are different from what what was needed when economy was operating in geographically bound silo-ed economies. People now need a broad understanding of all areas of human activities, and specialized skill in areas of their choosing to have successful careers. Education systems need change to help people achieve these goals.

In Kerala, rather than the current monolithic structure there should be two tracks. First track for those with an aptitude for knowledge for its own sake, or for self fulfillment. This track can be developed to fill the research and academic roles in the economy. The second track is for those interested in learning skills and acquiring knowledge to have a successful career in business/ industry. This track fulfills the need of both business and technical jobs in the economy. Students should have the freedom to pick and choose courses from either of these tracks.

Instead of the current gating examinations, the education institutions need to implement continuous evaluations, to have assurance that the graduates have a minimum knowledge and skills in the relevant field/ area. These evaluations have to be more granular than the current degree programs such as science, arts, engineering, etc. For example, basic programming, network administration, social media marketing, graphical design for advertising, bookkeeping, etc. These training/ education also need to be available a la carte so that students do not have to complete two/ three year degree/ diploma to obtain skills/ knowledge they are interested in.

The Kerala education overhaul will be successful, if it is implemented as part of an industrial development initiative. No education reform can be successful if the students do not have job opportunities in the state and have to migrate for jobs. With a viable industrial development plan, apprenticeships, internships and teacher enrichment programs can be implemented to provide feedback for necessary changes and defining/ refining education requirements.