The Indian economy has been growing at a fast pace since the early 1990s, post the introduction of the economic liberalisation. The high growth of the economy in the post-liberalisation era, especially in sectors like financial services and IT brought about huge employment opportunities for the youth. However today, ironically, there is a skill paradox wherein the corporate sector and other sectors are desperately seeking out talented youth to fill the ever increasing openings in an expanding economy; while on the other hand a large number of university graduates or degree holders cannot find a job owing to lack of appropriate skills. Besides, the country also needs an army of young professionals who can work on finding collaborative solutions to the pressing problems facing a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world.
How do we bridge this gap between the expectations of the employers from youth joining the workforce and existing knowledge, skills and attitudes of unemployed graduates? Governments, universities, colleges, schools and various social organisations must take action on an urgent basis to correct the situation. If this is not done, it would lead to several unresolved problems at the macro level along with huge unemployment, which will be a great injustice to our youth.
Across the world, teachers of economics and practising economists play a key role in policy making. In India, however, the discipline is marginalised and at times, even ignored. Even in a city like Mumbai, India’s commercial and financial capital, the role of economics and economists is barely recognised. So, the question we need to ask ourselves is: Where is the real problem?
It was with concerns such as these in mind that The Economics Club Mumbai was founded as a non-profit organisation in 2001. Initially the Club’s activities started in college campuses and involved organising economics festivals to create interest in the subject and demonstrating that economics, when applied in real life, can be fun. This is how Arth-Manthan-the Annual Economics festival was born! We are happy that a number of colleges in Mumbai now have buzzing economics festivals of their own.
When Winston Churchill visited the Harvard University in 1943, he famously said: “The empires of the future will be empires of the mind.” He couldn’t have been more right. The empires of mind need leaders with a strong understanding of the complexities of today’s world, strong problem-solving, decision-making and leadership skills and high emotional intelligence. In order to equip our youngsters to benefit from the opportunities and deal with the challenges of this VUCA world, we would first need to ‘engage and empower’ them. This is the greatest challenge faced by schools and colleges. Educational administrators, teachers and non-profits working in the education space need to take greater responsibility to make the existing system more effective and empowering for learners.
After a series of interactions with with different sections of society including academicians, economists, social thinkers, business leaders and a bit of introspection, it was felt that one of the ways to ensure that the subject gets its due is that we teachers realise the need to get trained in order to be ahead of the curve! To bring about this change The Economics Club has been organising a series of workshops and training programmes for teachers on new methods of teaching and learning! Hundreds of teachers in Mumbai have already been introduced to modern tools of teaching!
The Club has been carrying out pioneering work in the area of education over the last two decades. The Club’s activities started on college campuses and involved organising economics festivals to create interest in the subject and demonstrate that learning and applying economics can be fun. A number of colleges in Mumbai now hold their own inter-collegiate economics festivals. These festivals have become active forums for interaction among teachers, students, industry professionals, business leaders and other agents of change.
Despite the media explosion students and even teachers at times are often clueless about what students could do with an economics degree. To spread awareness amongst students about various career opportunities, the Club has been organising career guidance workshops and seminars in different colleges and conducting individual counselling sessions for students of the state of Maharashtra and other parts of India. The Club has also been disseminating information on various courses and study options in economics both in India and abroad through the social media and through other platforms like economics festivals.
The Club also holds meetings and public discussions to discuss various current issues. Another key initiative has been to carry out a campaign to make the economics curriculum relevant to meet the needs of both the industry and a VUCA world.
The initiative, started by a small group of enthusiastic teachers from the city has grown into a movement that is an association of economics teachers, students, budding economists and many other professionals and individuals who simply love the subject. Through this movement, teachers, practitioners and students of economics have created an interactive forum that has inculcated a culture of encouraging research and conducting discussions on economic issues among students, the academic community, the industry and the general public. Over a period of time, these interactions contributed to the formation of The Economics Club Mumbai as a non-profit organisation under the aegis of The Economics Foundation.
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