NINJAs on hire with no education, no income

By RN Bhaskar
Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.
― Heinrich Heine

The crazed public lynchings and burnings have begun. The depressing part is that they, like many other crimes against social harmony, have taken place in areas where educational standards are the lowest.  When you further push ahead with schemes like the Agniveers or Agnipath (, you are priming an army of NINJAs – no income, no jobs, no assets. India is building an army of people who can be hired to follow any leader to create riots, go on a rampage, to beat up teachers, doctors, artists, authors, or anyone else who does not meet with their sense of acceptability. Consequently, plays are forced to shut down, movie theatres vandalied and lectures cancelled.

Politicians advocate uniforms for teachers, instead of first ensuring that the basic civil laws are put into place.  The opening of schools is delayed to later hours, because some people do not want to get up early and prefer to attend parties or watch TV till late (

This is what this columnist has been trying to highlight in his The state of education in India – free subscription

The impact of poor education on the economy was highlighted in PrognosisIndia in 2024 —

Unemployment and Unemployability

The biggest impact is on employment and employability.

Not surprisingly, the signs of discord are visible everywhere, and all of them have their roots in the government’s inability to focus on education.

Extremely poor HDI

Consider for instance India’s performance on the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) over the past 30 years. Yes, India’s HDI has improved. But the ranking of Bangladesh has improved faster.  Sri Lanka remains way above India.

It is when we go into the finer details that one gets to see how depressing they are.

It is here that you learn that India has a lower life expectancy than all the developed countries, and lower than even Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.  That is because the government has messed around immensely with medical education and has fewer doctors per 1,000 people than even Pakistan. Medical education is becoming sicker week by week in India (  That, in turn blunts the edge that India’s demographics were to have. A single illness is enough to bankrupt a family.

That adds to the poverty levels and a sense of precariousness among Indians who fall outside the privileged 5% of the population. The government pronounces lofty schemes like Atma Nirbhar Bharat.  But, where are the doctors? The government remains silent on such issues (

Clearly, a 134 rank on the HDI front does not stand well with claims of being a vishwaguru or of becoming the world’s third most powerful country.  Something must give way.  Bets are on the latter.

What history tells us

No country in the world has become great without first strengthening basic education for its people.  Without good education – and jobs – the country actually promotes poverty.  And when there is poverty, unemployment, and little education, you create NINJAs — people with no income, jobs, or assets.

Politicians then try to quell this upsurge through reservations – based on caste, or domicile (sons of the soil).  Occasionally, you create half-baked schemes like those for agniveers ( Eventually, reservation without merit corrodes even the good, and the downward spiral of the economy becomes inevitable.

The refusal to participate in PISA ranking ( only make the government resemble an ostrich with its head buried in the sane.

This situation must be reversed (

India’s rankings on per capita spend on education, on the quality of learning, and on the Human Development Index are depressing.

Can the people of India force th4 government to act?

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