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The Engineering Debacle

Authored By: Sampath.R:

“Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress.” ~ Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

“A common wisecrack among engineering aspirants in Andhra Pradesh has it that every second building in the state is an engineering college. That may cease to be a joke when institutes dishing out management and engineering degrees start mushrooming all over the country”, read a recently published Times of India article.

To explain the gravity of the situation I wish to present the following facts:

  1. There are close to 2,300 engineering colleges in India with an approximate intake of 8.20lakhs.
  2. Nearly 75% of Indian engineering graduates lack employability skills.
  3. Most of the premier institutions of the country, including the IITs are facing a severe faculty crunch leave about the second line institutions.
  4. Not more than 1% of the under graduates opt for masters or doctoral level studies.
  5. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu account for 70% of India’s engineering graduates annually.
  6. 886 new engineering colleges are waiting for permission.

We all remember our pre primary schooling days where the teacher with a cane in her hand used to teach us that two twos are four. The same continued throughout the middle and high school years. We were always taught that two twos are four but we were never taught to question why and how two twos are four. We were all part of mad rat race that reminded us of only thing “MARKS”. The thought of college being different always allured us and it made us think that college would be place to groom ourselves as individuals of better understanding and presentation. Alas! It could have been. Ironically, the rat race only worsened.

Career these days is gradually becoming confined only to studies like Medicine, Engineering, Business Administration etc following the completion of high school. The greed for making fast money and settling down in life, being financially stable at an early age has pushed many young students into the unknown world of professional studies. It is rare these days to see the younger generation take up courses like sociology, anthropology, humanities, economics etc, as a career option. Most of the ‘so-called’ toppers usually opt for professional courses mentioned earlier. If we were to investigate more specifically, we can relate this trend with select branches of engineering as well. It has become a fashion these days for the top notch students to opt for disciplines such as Electronics and Communication, Computer Science or Information Technology rather than core branches like mechanical, civil or Electrical Engineering after clearing the entrance exams. The government policies over the years have been mostly responsible for this trend and at the same time we cannot neglect the influence of the parents on the minds of the children.  With more and more money being pumped into developing the IT and ITES sectors and mindset of earning money on top of creativity, this mad rush is only going to increase.

Looking further deeper into college life of these students, we realize it is a shadowy grave with all gloss and no substance. For example, it is common for technical students to appear in close to 60 papers, if not more, within the stipulated time period for attaining the degree. With most of the colleges lacking qualified and experienced faculty, it is not hard to imagine that the amount of motivation and mentoring that students get is virtually next to nothing. This dearth of experienced and competent faculties not only makes students bookworms rather than a savvy but also kills creativity and power to look beyond the white board and the realms of the text book. These helpless students are then left with no option but to mug up the text-books and clear papers. This fact was presented in a more satirical manner in the recently released movie ‘3 Idiots’. The overall essence of technical education seems to be lost with the common belief among the students and faculty alike that approaching the question paper at the end of the semester/year is what it takes to become a techie. The problem is that we don’t follow an overall assessment of the student throughout the semester/year and instead a single question paper is used to seal their fate and moreover question papers mostly concentrate on the ability of the student toreproduce what one studied rather what one understood. So, by the end of the course, the student is deprived of any kind of motivation whatsoever to continue to study further and is made to think that it is nothing but next only to hell.

The above said cycle will continue to go on and on and it shall be too late by the time we realize if we don’t question ourselves. It is important for us to understand that in order to have a balanced growth of the nation, it is first important to have a more balanced society and balanced society is made of up different kinds of professions and not just doctors, business administrators and engineers alone. Therefore, it is important on the part of the parents to encourage their children to take up various disciplines rather than rubbing their ambitions on them. It is the duty of the students to realize their ambitions and strive for achieving them rather than following the band wagon. More importantly the government should provide  ample employment opportunities in various fields rather than concentrating on a select few, as it is quite evident that the lack of employment deters many from taking up professions other than the tried and tested ones. Thus, the onus of making a change lies within ourselves and it is We, the people who can make a difference.


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