Sanjeev Sanyal advocates for an unconventional learning approach, investment-led growth at ThinkEdu Conclave 2024

Addressing the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), he acknowledged the need for regulation while emphasising the necessity of embracing this transformative technology
Visuals from the event | (Picture: TNIE)
Visuals from the event | (Picture: TNIE)

In a thought-provoking session at the 13th ThinkEdu Conclave, presented by SASTRA University, titled “Indian Economy, Global Context: Onwards and Upwards,” Sanjeev Sanyal, a member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India, proposed an unconventional learning approach, challenging the necessity of physical attendance, hostel fees, and infrastructure expenses. He advocated for a modern educational paradigm where students can showcase their understanding through online means.
He shared insights from his educational background where he successfully navigated his academic journey by skipping classes while consistently excelling in exams. He challenged the notion of obligatory four-year university education, suggesting an alternative approach that could alleviate the financial burden associated with hostel fees and other infrastructure expenses.

“If I successfully pass an exam or any testing system, it becomes my responsibility. This approach was particularly evident during the recent Covid-19 pandemic. There’s no necessity to physically attend anything. If I can demonstrate my competence by passing an online test from any corner of the planet, a certificate should be conferred. The primary objective is to validate my understanding of the subject matter,” said Sanyal. 

Addressing the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), he acknowledged the need for regulation while emphasising the necessity of embracing this transformative technology. He underscored that AI, like previous technological disruptions, would create new job opportunities, necessitating a flexible and upskilled society.

In the context of academia, Sanyal called for a complete disruption, particularly in higher education.

“All it takes is a single lecture delivered by the most proficient lecturer in a particular subject, shared on YouTube for global accessibility. Subsequently, questions can be addressed through a charging mechanism,” he said. 

He further added that classrooms, especially for lectures and answering queries, are no longer essential. “This is a pivotal notion as it has the potential to revolutionise university education entirely. Universities could be reserved for research purposes and testing and certification requirements, not for traditional teaching,” he elaborated.

Switching gears to economic growth, Sanyal emphasised the sustainability of investment-led growth over consumption-led models. Citing historical examples, he noted that no country has achieved rapid industrialisation through consumption-led growth. He outlined the critical role of savings rates in supporting investment-led growth dynamics.

“The fundamental driver of economic growth is always led by investment, and if you’re fortunate, it's also propelled by exports. While our current situation lacks the export component, the investment aspect is indeed catalysing growth. When you fuel growth through investment, it necessitates an increase in savings to sustain it. So, paradoxically, in this group dynamic, one should not anticipate consumption to align with it. This strategy mirrors what China successfully executed over the past three decades,” said Sanyal.

Despite global economic challenges, Sanyal expressed optimism about India's growth trajectory, stating that the country is generating approximately seven percent gross domestic product growth.

“In the next 18 months, we will surpass Germany, and another 18 months after that, we will surpass Japan, securing our position as the world's third-largest economy in dollar terms. Already holding the rank of the third-largest economy in PPP terms, we are not only a significant player but a serious one, experiencing substantial and steady growth,” affirmed Sanyal.

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