Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Monday sought a change in the country's education system which, he said, was "socially stratified" with graduates of elite universities becoming the managerial class.
"Thus far we have had an education system that is socially stratified...Graduates of a few elite universities such as the IITs and IIMs become the managerial class that run the Indian state and the industry. This is changing and must change," he said at the inauguration of the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Maths wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan in Chennai.
Despite the triumph of India's democracy,large sections of the society continue to remain marginalised and disempowered mainly due to the lack of eduation, he said.
He said courageous teachers here and there were attempting to keep the vibrant current going but they were in minority "with the odds heavily loaded against them."
Decline in areas of humanities and social science is taking place."This is accentuated by the basic changes taking place in the balance in power in India with the unprecedented rise of the corporate sector."
Jobs in state sector had stagnated while those in corporate and informal sectors have grown exponentially, he said.
One consequence of this was 'a drastic alteration' of priorities in higher education among the upper sections of Indian society, Sibal noted.
Prestige and financial returns acquired from participation in the global economy far outstrip most of what Indian economy can offer."The effect has been to pull educated classes in large numbers into the global economy leaving behind a vacuum whose impact we are still trying to cope with," he said.
This had even resulted in drastic reduction of elite in areas of Maths, Humanities and Social Sciences, leading to shrinking or closure of the departments,he said.
"We seek to expand and create an egalitarian system of education around a clear understanding of our culture, history, needs, endowments and competence," Sibal said.
For this, all including the government, academia, business, civil society and citizens need to work to focus on education as the key enabler of empowerment,social change and inclusive development,he said.
Government was endeavouring to build a system that promotes creativity, freedom, joy and and an awareness of culture.This will help children retain their sense of wonder to develop a spirit of enquiry and to nurture the joy of learning, he said.
"We are endeavouring to reform this with emphasis on skill development and unlocking the creative talent within the child. The paradigm shift is on the anvil.Learning and education will be child-centric instead of the present exam-centric education system," he said.
Government also aimed at increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio, an indicator of number of persons taking to higher education, from 15% to 30% in this decade, Sibal added.
A series of programmes, including outreach efforts targeting general public, students and research scholars as part of the Ramanaujan anniversary celebrations, besides an international conference in December 2012, will be held, MS Raghunathan, vicechairman of the National Committee supervising the celebrations, said.