Looking at the number of engineering colleges in India and the number of engineers these colleges are churning out every year, it won’t be totally wrong if we call our country by the sobriquet, “Land of Engineers“. But making India a land of engineers is not nearly enough unless we back this up with opportunities, recognition and innovation. Some people question, why are we still lagging in inventions despite having a horde of engineers? Then there’s a certain negativism attached to engineering in India these days. Well, to the whole education system for that matter. But the engineering system is one special case.
Is It Fair To Blame The Engineering Students?
More often than not, society subject Indian engineering students to hard-hitting censure. Some people blame them for crippling the system by envisioning engineering as a rat-race. While some are of the belief that engineering has reached its saturation point in India. There might be some sliver of truth in these statements. But, the fault somewhat lies with our antediluvian education system. And one cannot ignore the way students are brought up in our quintessential Indian society. Some engineering students surmise that if they choose a particular engineering stream, they will readily get a job.
Four years of college are spent doing rote learning and then regurgitating everything in the paper the next day. Software jobs in India entail writing a monotonous code, resulting in suppressed ideas and innovation. But putting the blame on students’ shoulders is not the way to go about it. Because no one envisions this future when they get into an Engineering College. Take, for example, the sheer cauldron of paradoxes mechanical, civil and electrical engineering students are subjected to. A student who probably had a dream of inventing the automated car is pushed into this vicious circle of getting a software-engineering job. If we can’t generate worthy jobs for our engineering students, we can, at least, coax them into coming forward with their ideas by providing suitable guidance and funding.
And one cannot dispute that it is not the idea of education, innovation and research itself that drives the students but the vehement zeal to climb up the career ladder is what acts as the motivating force. As a result, while India has no dearth of engineers but is still unable to step its foot in the ingenious market.
There’s a pressing need to revamp our education system and do away with the archaic examination system. Of course, some form of assessment should be there, however, it should measure one’s creativity rather than the memorising power. We can draw some lesson from the pedagogical methods of the west where research-based education trumps mechanical learning.
Lack Of A Driving Force
Then there’s the matter of the driving force or lack thereof. In India, the innate nature of being dependent on one’s parents renders one incapable of moving forward. It dissuades the students from thinking far from the norm, of making it big because they never really realise what is it like to be on their own. Indian millennial has an option to run back to their parents when going gets tough. Ironically, they are not either wholly averse to it. Come to think of it, they thrive on the dependency. Juxtaposed to the western culture where kids are forced to live on their own as soon as they turn eighteen. The absence of daily indulgence and the belief of making on one’s own paves the way for creativity, for the zeal of doing something. Hence, they generate an inventive fervour to succeed in life.
While there are many other reasons that have contributed to the engineering cul-de-sac in India, these are the most profound. Nevertheless, to completely write off our engineering system and many commendable achievements of our engineering students and scientists, is nothing short of myopic.
All is not lost when it comes to Innovation & Education in India
It is irrefutable that there are some big problems and our country is reeling from an acute lack of innovation, one can still say that all is not lost. Many Indian students, despite the lack of support and fundings, still continue to enthral us with their creativity. Innovations do emanate from the walls of our engineering colleges. Our scientists are rendering unequivocal service to many successful projects undertaken by ISRO.
Last year when ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) created history by launching 104 satellites in one go, the whole world was compelled to take notice. Another similar instance, when Rifath Sharook, an 18-year-old boy, from Tamil Nadu’s Pallapatti town, helped NASA pilot the world’s smallest satellite KalamSat weighing only 64 grammes, filled us with awe and gave us an unbridled hope.
If nothing else, such exemplary inventions tell us that India is indeed capable of invention and discovering new tech ideas. The only need is to tackle the egregious follies like lack of a vibrant education system, shortage of funding, an immensely dependent upbringing and so on and so forth.
Is The Government Ready To Invigorate Innovation in India
Although we are unlikely to get another Nehru or Sarvepalli anytime soon, it seems that the ruling dispensation is also keen on forsaking the somnolence that has gripped our tech education for so long. “Make in India” is one such initiative that resonates with the idea of Indian tech and innovation. It rightly acknowledges the fact that a country will only move up the ladder of prosperity if it can manufacture the goods and services required by its people indigenously.
While the Make in India mission is a step in the right direction as it is encouraging tech students to come up with new ideas for their own startups and has special allocations for the same. Apart from making India a manufacturing hub, the theory behind Make in India focuses on gainfully employing India’s demographic dividend. However, it has not arisen any glorious changes as the overzealous and prophetic endorsements promised.
The program caters to innovations in sectors like Manufacturing, Construction, Defense, Oil and Gas, Ports, Railways and Heavy Electrical. And all these sectors require huge capital investments ensuing in unavoidable hurdles like lack of funds, cost of borrowing, electricity etc. Secondly, there is special emphasis on foreign investment in Indian market which benefits behemoths like Reliance, PayTm and other established firms with stellar financial backups and good credit terms, which again undermines tech startups by Indian students.
If the government fails to do any groundwork when it comes to the Make in India initiative then the whole purpose stands the chance of being disregarded as another loudmouthed demagoguery for political expediency.
We have the stats in our favour, as India is growing younger while the rest of the world is growing older. In tandem with this, tech and innovation in our country continues its ascent, but at a slow pace. And not nearly as quickly as intended.