There is a general feeling that there had been an erosion of essential social, moral and spiritual values in our society and "one reason could be the excessive focus on cognitive to the neglect of the affective in our education system," he said at a college function here.

"The problem of declining values in society, however, is multi-dimensional, arising out of combination of factors such as globalization, materialism, consumerism, and commercialization of education, threats to humanity due to climate change, environmental degradation, ideology or identity based conflicts and terrorism," he said.

Delivering the valedictory address at the quartoseptcentennial (175 years) celebrations of the Madras Christian College here, he pointed out that this had led to individual or collective insecurities, individualistic lifestyles, excessive greed, and other negative consequences.

"While some of the causes of the decline in values may be beyond our control, one of the correctives within our competence is the education system. What is required of it is to enable students inculcate three faculties-- of intellect, conscience and will, and thereby reinforce their moral sense," he said.

He noted that value education cannot be confined to concepts and said it has to be used as a "practical instrument" to address prevailing social and cultural realities and changes.

In the 21st century, education was a critical tool for developing a modern economy, a just society and a vibrant polity, he said.

"It is estimated that developed economies and even China will face a shortage of about 40 million highly skilled workers by 2020, while based on current projections of higher education, India is likely to see some surplus of graduates in 2020. Thus, India could capture a higher share of global knowledge-based economy work, if there is focus on higher education and its quality is globally benchmarked."

The challenge was to combine access with affordability and ensure high-quality education to realize the potential of the country’s ‘demographic dividend’, Ansari said.

He asked the country's youth to be prepared for the emerging challenges of globalization, so that they can be addressed comprehensively for India to take its rightful place as a modern, prosperous and progressive nation-state amongst the community of nations. "A failure to do so in good measure could lead to a demographic disaster," he warned.

(Agencies)

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