The Indian Engineer’s Dilemma

Author:Kartik Adsule

Read Time: 4 minutes

For a country which produces 1.5 million engineers every year, India has a large human resource to cater to its industry needs. But for a country which invests so less in Research and Development, the scenario being same on public as well private sector, the question arises do we really need so many engineers. But then I read Aspiring Mind’s National Employability report which was conducted sampling more than 1, 50,000 students which stated that around 80% of the recent pass outs were unemployable. So this is a dual dilemma that we are facing in which we are producing engineers more than those required and also degrading their quality at least as far as employ ability is concerned.

I am a 2015 graduate and currently in my early years in the industry set up (culture). Being placed out of campus in a core engineering company I will admit I had my apprehensions and was skeptical of what could I possibly have to offer on the engineering front? This doubt was partly my fault and partly of the engineering ecosystem’s which stamped me as fit enough to work in the industry. Looking back at four years in college I think right from day one we are all oriented to be inclined towards getting the top grades and good pay package which help most of us pay off our students as quick as possible. Other than this there are a myriad of extracurricular activities which polish our personalities for a corporate career the best they can. But I can hardly recall any lab activity or any project which helped me see myself grow as an engineer. Not that if I had worked towards it I would not have had an opportunity to do so. But then again I could have had such an exposure only because I studied in an NIT but what about those who are not studying at an IIT or NIT do they have at least the lab facilities to begin with let alone an opportunity to utilize them for working on a certain project. The question I pondered over is why hands on learning experience isn’t an integral part of our curriculum. Some countries have universities having specific focus on either industry or research while we are somewhere in between not managing to pull off either.

When the final year had arrived and everyone was ready preparing and hoping for decent placement. Few who had their plans sorted were busy preparing for exams for masters. Some had planned to do it after getting work experience, few others thought it was better to think about it after securing a job. I on the other hand and I am sure few others were too, was busy thinking what will align best with what I have done till now and with my future goals. Most of my friends who were involved in similar activities as me had decided to go with the hot favorite which was known to work- Clear CAT and get into Top Tier B-School. The advantages were far too many- Guaranteed handsome pay, Spurt growth post MBA, a life changing experience of two years, good network through the institute and getting to live in India. Well I thought if so many people have thought over it’s perhaps for the best.

A year later, work started and I enjoyed what my work profile involved. I had plenty of time at hand after office. The pay was good enough for me to cater for a decent bachelor life. But then I as time went by seniors who were recruited as GETs started advising its better if you do a masters you will be better off. Ofcourse any one would think that almost everyone does a masters these days, I too ought to get one. But then I realized I was not cut out for masters in MBA as I didn’t really have a clue of head or tail of it. Besides I was having a good time working learning about this fascinating product of ours- motorcycle. Some of my friends appeared GRE, some a year later went abroad to pursue masters. All this while I realized I wouldn’t be earning enough even though I am part of R&D of world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer. MBA certainly makes better sense if at all I have to continue with the lifestyle my parents catered for me. Or better off I should may be do MS as I enjoyed the my current role, perhaps I could build on it. But I couldn’t possibly stay working here besides the work is more or less operational and doesn’t need me to research or apply hardcore engineering. May be the skill-sets I will have post MS will land me a Job which would pay me in dollars and an opportunity to be part of world-class research facility.

Giving due thought I realized the problems are interlinked the reason so many graduates go for an MBA is that engineering degree at least as far as the core sector goes doesn’t pay you enough or doesn’t provide spurt growth in terms of pay. The reason ofcourse is India being a developing country isn’t in a state to invest too much into research and so engineers here are more or less executives or process managers than anything else. I work in automotive regulations domain where Bharat Stage emission norms are blindly copied by ministry from the European norms which are framed by conducting extensive research for Europe. The social, geographical and economic conditions in India largely differ. Perhaps we Indians should stop blaming engineers for the brain drain or doing an MBA and try to make changes in our policies. Instead of increasing the seats of premiere institute it is high time we give other professions its due importance. Esteemed profession such as doctor is in scarcity in India. The physician to patient ratio in India is very low- 1:1700 while Cuba, Argentina and Ukraine has around 1:300. Also for an economy as huge as India we definitely might need more economists, bankers, accountants. Indian parents I believe have a huge responsibility to not coerce their children into engineering and so do we in not giving it unnecessary importance. Hope we see a change in trend some day and stop following the herd soon.

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