Why Are Indians Running After Engineering?

Posted on January 22, 2010 in Education

Kaushik Narsimhan:

“Engineering is a great profession. There is the satisfaction of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings homes to men or women. Then it elevates the standard of living and adds to the comforts of life. This is the engineer’s high privilege”

These were the famous words of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States of America and a mining engineer by profession.

Engineering seekhne ki nahi, ratne ki cheez hoti hai, samjhe …

These were the not so famous words of Langordayachand Tyagi, the President of the Mining student association of my college.

This phenomenal difference in their answers to the same question of “what is engineering” can be rooted to various factors. Apart from the apparent difference in time line and maybe to an extent even the fame quotient between the two lads, several other issues such as lack of interest, forceful decisions, restricted boundaries and a heavy work load have contributed to this pitiful state that engineering has come to in our country today.

Currently pursing my 3rd yr in Electrical Engg in one of the better and recognized government engineering institutions in our country, I see everyday not the students who are thrilled by the thought of projects or those who have an adrenaline rush on researching theoretical concepts but students who wait impatiently for the 4 long years to get over and those who wait for every opportunity to return home.

Ironically, most of us when we left our homes for our colleges came with such high expectations, mostly because of our college’s campus and the freedom that we were to exploit but also to a good extent even the thought of “engineering” had excited us back then. The whole aspect of engineering being a field requiring a broad knowledge of mathematics, physics and other sciences got us a little proud of ourselves of having come onto the path of becoming successful engineers one day.

Remarkably, on inquiring from several of my acquaintances pursuing engineering across the country I found it takes less than a month for one to realize that the whole concept of engineering as a divine and unique field is true only in a world where Zimbabwe becomes an economic superpower and the new president of the United States of America has the name Langordayachand Tyagi.

Both of which are not possible at least until 2012.

On a more serious note, India produces around 3.5 million engineering graduates every year whereas China and The United States produce 600,000 and 70,000 graduates respectively.

So what is it that drives the students of this country so profusely into engineering?

It’s certainly not the money. Since the recession, the companies have reduced recruitments in all the colleges throughout the country. Except for a few elite handful of college’s, all the other colleges in India today have students recruited in the same IT companies for the same salaries. The pay certainly not worth the input one is expected to provide to successfully complete his engineering course, especially with the stiff competition today.

It’s certainly not the fame. It’s been a long time since any newspaper has had stories on engineer’s and their achievements for their work. Ever since the origin of time, inventors or scientists who were famous for their work like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Isaac Singer, and Thomas Edison etc were all not engineers.

Examples of the people who were famous and also engineers by profession include Alfred Hitchcock, Yaseer Arafat, Herbert Hoover, Boris Yeltsin and Rowan Atkinson to name a few, all of whom found fame outside engineering

It’s certainly not the job satisfaction. With the torrid working conditions and a hostile no woman atmosphere, a field engineer’s working atmosphere doesn’t exactly suit a job description one would want to brag about.

So if it’s not the money or the fame or the job, we are left with only two options to answer the question put forth.

“Passion or Parents”

That is where the solution to our question lies. The reason that drives most of the students into engineering in India is the “parents’ factor”. The society in most parts of India doesn’t exactly welcome with open hands the prospect of the men following up on arts courses for their college studies. In the states of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu combined, there are more than a thousand engineering colleges.

And yet engineering from any one of the million colleges in India is still considered respectable in our society. Even today, 3 yrs after entering college I still find classmates cribbing upon missed opportunities and those who still question their decision of pursuing the field. This is a generalized state of mind of most engineering students across any part of our country.

But, I have also in the very same 3 years observed students who, like how Mr Hoover quoted, attain immense pleasure in watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Students who find the aspect of solving challenging engineering problems captivating and for whom engineering itself is more of a gift as compared to a harsh ordeal that it becomes that the others have to endeavor.

I strongly believe the only reason people should pursue a degree in engineering is because of how passionate they are in their cause. For its people like them who achieve results that glorify both the country and the profession.

So, if you don’t have the passion for engineering you can be more than just sure that pursuing it despite your lack of interest, just for your parents’ sake will have you writing an article wanting to become a journalist and warning the more fortunate ones about engineering.

Yes, as the parents may argue, these 18 yr olds might be a little unrealistic with their aspirations at times, maybe in their juvenile imbecilic state of mind they might come up with the weirdest of professions to pursue. But what is to be made clear is that “your child may be taking a wrong choice, but engineering need not always be the right one”. It’s only for us to hope that someday, our society accepts the prospect of finding male nurses and female entrepreneurs, a common sight on the streets of our very own nation.

The writer is a Raipur based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz. He is an Electrical Engineering student from National Institute of Technology, Raipur with a passion for public speaking and parliamentary debating, aspiring to be a journalist someday.