Rajiv Pratap Rudy: The moment you deviate from the existing BJP leadership in Bihar, it would collapse
“Nitish Kumar was the finest engineering person who could split the classes further — OBCs into MBCs, Dalits into Mahadalits,” says Rudy.
In this Idea Exchange moderated by Assistant Editor Surabhi, Union Minister of State for Skill Development
Rajiv Pratap Rudy speaks about his plans for creating a skilled workforce, the challenges for BJP in the
Bihar Assembly elections and the role caste arithmetic has long played in the state.
Why Rajiv Pratap Rudy?
The Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs is part of the PM’s core team and is responsible for the skilling programme that aims to train nearly 11 crore workers by 2020 in sync with the Make in India campaign. A pilot by training, Rudy is also a key strategist for the BJP, helping it win the Maharashtra Assembly polls. The senior BJP leader is also expected to be a key player in the Bihar elections.
RAJIV PRATAP RUDY: Why are we talking about skill development? The PM decided this would be a department. Five months later, he made a ministry out of it. The reason which compelled him to do so was the need for a workforce. In our country, out of a workforce of 1,260 million, only 3 per cent are skilled. If the country has to talk about skill development, standardisation has to be brought in. The Sector Skill Councils are the bodies implementing it. There are 33 such councils, which include automotive, health-care, construction, power and green energy. Earlier, the government, under a Cabinet decision, had said the country would have to align itself in the next five years with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF).
The real wealth of the country has to be created out of skilling. Skill India will take care of Make in India. An assessment by the ministry and the World Bank said that to train an individual, at least Rs 20,000 is required. We need Rs 4 lakh crore in the next five years to train people. This should have actually been part of the education system, but this money is not there.
MANEESH CHHIBBER: You have been talking about setting up a skills university. But the basic problem is education. Will you talk to the HRD Ministry on connecting education to skills?
Ten years of schooling won’t get you a job, while 10 months of skilling will ensure a job. So why did vocational education fail? This happened because it did not have any social sanctity. We have to put it as a valid system for all government jobs. In a corporate office, if you walk in and say you are a journalist, someone will ask what skills you have. (If you say) you have speed and can use a software, then your skills are more. This (education with skills) has not happened in the past 66 years.
COOMI KAPOOR: The JD(U), RJD and Samajwadi Party came together recently. Isn’t it going to create a problem for you in the forthcoming Bihar Assembly elections, because the caste arithmetic works in their favour?
This is Bihar. And Bihar accepts that. Bihar doesn’t accept Rajiv Pratap Rudy. In fact, no one identifies me. Half of you still won’t admit that I have been contesting against Lalu Prasad Yadav for the last 25 years. Half of you won’t recall that I defeated Rabri Devi to come here and sit with you. At 26 years, I became an MLA in Bihar during Lalu Prasad’s tenure. He threw me out of the party in a year because he found me different. I have survived for 25 years, have remained in the Assembly with Lalu Yadav, and 20 years down the line, I got elected to Parliament.
Nitish Kumar has proved the finest engineer who could split the classes further — OBCs into MBCs, Dalits into Mahadalits. The Paswans were a powerful votebank who weren’t voting for Nitish Kumar. So he left out the Paswans from the Mahadalit category. After 25 years of their rule, we don’t have a world-class stadium, no reasonable hotel in Patna. They (Lalu, Nitish) were powerful, but they are wasted now.
LIZ MATHEW: The BJP was part of the Nitish Kumar government and at least for outsiders, this was a different government. It tried to bring in some change in terms of infrastructure development. But the political equations changed and the government was in trouble. Do you hold the BJP responsible too?
The speed at which we should have worked and delivered… I’ve worked with Nitish Kumar. He is a repository of wisdom. His wisdom is the last word! Take Patna airport, for instance. Being a pilot for the past 25 years, I have landed there almost every day. However, it is an unlicensed airport — the only one in the world. When the government was formed with Nitish Kumar, he was not even ready to share the credit of knowledge. They’ll not only hate you if you are better, but will hate you to an extent that even your ideas which could be good for the state will be hated. This is the psyche in Bihar.
SUNIL JAIN: It is not clear where the money will come from for the skills industry because we need lakhs of crores. Secondly, if you have a skills ministry, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Skill Councils, who is drafting the curriculum?
Before someone in the government decides that it should be a national mission, it could be there in the form of CSR. The industry does want to spend, but it needs to be mandated — that 25 per cent CSR has to go into skills. The NSDC is offering some money, creating a structure for training. States and Centre are both spending money.
The second issue. There were two things earlier: The National Educational Qualification Framework and National Vocational Framework. To make it more legitimate, it is under a Cabinet order notification. I am thinking of moving a legislation to standardise skills across the country.
P VAIDYANATHAN IYER: What is your realistic estimate of the percentage of skilled personnel in the workforce? What percentage is being managed by, say, various ministries, whether they are skilling those people?
The National Sample Survey says it is 2 per cent. It could have gone up to 3-3.5 per cent. Of every 100 people coming out (of schools and colleges), only 2 per cent to 3 per cent get trained.
P VAIDYANATHAN IYER: So, what is the realistic estimate in five years of this government?
As of date, the skill gap is 110 million. That’s the actual immediate requirement in the workforce. We also have studies from states. In Andhra Pradesh, 1 crore people need to be employed, 30 lakh in Chhattisgarh, 2.2 lakh in Goa, Jharkhand needs 44 lakh and so on. We talk about ‘hunar hai to kadar hai’. That is one aspect we are talking about.
PRAVEEN SWAMI: South Korea built a skilled workforce on the back of universalisation of primary education and fairly good standards in primary education. We are some nine lakh short in school teachers. And mathematics and reading standards, particularly of primary schoolchildren, in many states are lagging behind. Will it be possible to develop a skilled workforce?
Can we stop education where it is and put the resources at school dropout level, 10 and below, to skills? Can we move towards a direction where we can skill them? So he could be a 5th pass and a five-week course can make him employable for Rs 15,000. And that is what we are attempting to do.
AMITABH SINHA: There is this impression that skill development will only get you blue-collar jobs. So how do you introduce skill development courses in schools and colleges, especially in the urban centres?
There is a large workforce — 95 per cent — that is talking about low-end skills. We require 13 million people in the tourism sector alone by 2022. Hotels would require 2.39 million workers. Restaurants in this country would require professionally trained waiters, cooks, chefs, they would be around 10.49 million. The main resources have to go to a slab below those who are highly qualified professionals.
ARCHNA SHUKLA: So, what is the BJP’s strategy going to be in the Bihar Assembly elections given that the Janata parties have come together and they already have both ‘caste’ and ‘development’ as their planks?
We have to work on both the planks. We have to win the confidence of the people. The BJP deserves a chance in Bihar once. Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Nitish Kumar, all shaking hands…
ARCHNA SHUKLA: But caste is what sells in Bihar.
I didn’t want to say that… But this is not the case as far as the BJP leadership in Bihar is concerned. We have Yadav leadership, Kushwaha leadership, we have hunar (merit) leadership, we have Rajput leadership.
It is not that we are alien to that. But Amit Shah is magic. This will sound very different to you. I have seen him, I have worked with him in Maharashtra. He will work for 16 hours non-stop. He is an amazing monitor. He indulges in it. I have faith in his leadership. If we could do it in Maharashtra, we could do it in Haryana, we could do it in Jharkhand, I am 100 per cent sure we will do it in Bihar.
LIZ MATHEW: However, it seems BJP leaders are really concerned about the merger of this so-called Janata Parivar. So how difficult is it going to be?
What difficult? Mr Nitish Kumar decides to quit because he could not become the prime minister. Then he positions Jitan Manjhi and when Manjhi takes his space, he is thrown out. So a man is so hungry for power! Then he calls Lalu Yadav. Lalu was also waiting for his own time to strike because he had won only four seats. So everyone is working against everyone. Do you think Lalu Yadav will relinquish his place to Nitish Kumar, or even Mulayam Singh Yadav? I don’t think so. We have formulations in place in Bihar. We will form a stable, majority government.
VANDITA MISHRA: Why didn’t the Amit Shah magic work in Delhi? Secondly, in state elections, you have experimented with two models. One is you take Narendra Modi and put him in front. But in Delhi, you had Kiran Bedi. In Bihar, you have regional strong leaders like Nitish and Lalu. What is the model going to be in Bihar?
These are big secrets which can’t be shared. You will use it as a headline if I share this secret. How can I share this secret with you?
AMITABH SINHA: Where does Giriraj Singh figure in the BJP’s scheme of things in Bihar?
Giriraj is not fit for the scheme of things at the national level. He absolutely should refrain from making any national statement. We absolutely do not endorse it. But in Lalu’s land, I think he is the right voice.
AMITABH SINHA: Is there a possibility that he may emerge as the CM candidate of the BJP?
We are not talking about chief ministers and I have told you the policy. The moment you try to deviate from the existing leadership in the state, it would collapse. And that would mean leadership existing between Sushil Modi and Nand Kishore Yadav.
P VAIDYANATHAN IYER: Your alliance partner in Maharashtra is calling the BJP names. Did you anticipate this or is it a reaction to how the BJP treated its alliance partner during government formation? Second, as Parliamentary Affairs Minister, how do you see the land Bill progressing?
On land Bill, we want to build a consensus. I think people opposing the land Bill is more of politics. If you see, in reality, this country needs something like this Bill. Make a road in an area, the value of the land on the left and right of that road goes up. (But) if you decide not to have any infrastructure in the government sector, then you decide what you want. So, it’s part of a larger gameplan to make you lose after five years. If they succeed now, they are succeeding after five years, because we would not be able to deliver anything.
P VAIDYANATHAN IYER: Given the numbers in the Rajya Sabha, are you heading towards a joint session?
The government has a strategy in place and we are answerable to the people of this country who voted for Modi. The ministries are modest, you will not find any minister loud. There is no controversy; there are no charges of corruption. Not only me, you see Piyush Goyal, you see Nirmala (Sitharaman), they are trying to work.
PRAGYA KAUSHIKA: Is there any attempt to revive the Delhi unit? Is the national leadership talking about the Delhi unit?
It is an ongoing process. Politics is an ongoing process.
PRAGYA KAUSHIKA: But the MCD elections will be held in 2017 and the AAP will be a challenge…
Let them survive till that time. The AAP is already faltering. They are not a political force. They are a group of individuals who have come together on the issue of… AAP ki philosophy nafrat ki philosophy hai. ‘Neta corrupt hain, ye sab corrupt hain, hum best hain’. Let them prove it.
COOMI KAPOOR: You are a senior leader of your party. You are a minister, played a major role in the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar, you defeated Rabri Devi. Don’t you feel a little disappointed at the way the party has treated you? They did not make you a Cabinet minister, took several months before they brought you in as a minister?
I have got an opportunity to work. Yes, slightly late because of compulsions. I had a senior colleague, Radha Mohan Singh, who has been brought to the Cabinet. There was a compulsion. We could not bring two Thakurs into the Cabinet for the first time. He is a deserving leader.
I am happy working with an independent charge. I still remember my stint as civil aviation minister in 2003-04. What I could do in 8-10 months… The Airport Authority Act was amended when I requested Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Delhi and Mumbai airports, which you see as landmarks, were, at a policy level, approved by us. We reduced the excise duty from 16 per cent to 8 per cent.
The launch of the low-cost airline Deccan was under my signature. That has changed the whole fabric of aviation in this country.
MONOJIT MAJUMDAR: How do you read the Germanwings incident?
It will become more difficult for pilots in future. At some point of time, someone must have anticipated that this can happen. This is a locked situation. Otherwise, in any aircraft, we have a code with which you can open the aircraft from outside.
If there is any hostile element outside, you can lock it for good and this is what the captain did. Only psychologists can explain this. But there will be more restrictions on pilots. This will compel pilots to operate under stiffer situations, which is not good. They need to be relaxed. Flying is very taxing.
Transcribed by Nikitha Phyllis & Madhurita Goswami.
Source:: Indian Express