Tuesday, 2 February 2010

3,2,10 and the demise of the Deadline, Engineering, and Promises

"To learn is good, to teach is god" -Modified proverb

Its worrisome that most of my blogs take birth in between classes. It means that I have way too much time to myself... and this, by definition is a bad thing. After all, you know what they say about an idle mind being the devil's workshop. Conversely, this is an indicator of how late the teacher arrived today. However, this is not about the profs who don't turn up for class. I have a great amount of respect for such profs, and most of my favourite profs are those who take a 10 minute lecture in the whole week. I can also say, unequivocally, that I have learnt more from such profs than from those who take 5 hours a week in a course with 3 credits and 3 contact hours a week. However(this is fast becoming 1 of my favourite words, however), this blog is not about such profs as well. This blog is as much about the demise of choice and freedom of expression as it is an eulogy of our venerable education system.

This train of thought started when I met an Israeli man at the station while waiting for my train. The poor soul had turned up 2 hours early for a train that was 3 hours late, and facing a 5 hour wait at the station he turned to a couple of college students going home for the vacations. The train timetable in India will be the subject of another blog though. What struck me as impressive was his knowledge about the country, not about our railways. He asked us what we our major was, and ruefully added, Engineering, right? Now the status of our country as an engineer making factory is not unknown to us Indians, but to hear it from an Israeli?? Israel!! I mean the only things they are in the news for is the Dead Sea and suicide bombings, which is 1 more than India of course. But this started me thinking.

The major institutions of our country are all engineering colleges. The majority of the students of our country are all engineering students. Hell, every second person you bump into on the street is an engineer. India does not get by on its quality of education, the brilliance of its students or the superb course structure and funding of the IITs. No, India gets by, as it has always got by, on sheer volume. When you produce 500,000 engineers each year, its a given that 5 of them will go on and change the world. This would not be a problem. No in fact it is this miniature army of engineers that has given India its current position of...snigger...snigger..Economic Superpower. Yes, India is well expected to overtake the US Economy by 2040. And Indians have the highest IQs. And so on and so forth. To put things into perspective for you, and demolish propaganda, the endowment of Yale, is around 17 billion dollars.And they are, of course second to Harvard, which, if memory serves, has an endowment of 36 bill. The existing annual budget for any IIT, on average, Google tells me, is 222 crore. Thats 2.2 billion rupees. 50 million dollars. Look closely at any government provided stat, fictional or otherwise, and you will see that we are not even close to becoming what projections say we will become by 2050.

So, as it is in our nature, to follow the money, people who have not the first idea of engineering wil continue to teach it. People who have no desire to learn will continue to learn it. All in the hopes of getting a job. Earning, and earning well. And of course, the ubiquitous MBA degree beckons those who are dissatisfied with their current engineering degree. As such, we have created a billion dollar industry, specializing in disillusioning all sorts of people, and creating, to quote Aravind Adiga, a generation of half-baked Indians. 3/2/10 is just a reminder that the countdown to all those promises starting with,"by 2010", is over. We have achieved almost NOTHING of what was projected. And as long as a paradigm shift in attitude and mindset does not occur, which will NOT I am sure, we never will achieve "by 2050", "2100" or whatever number the stats in the newspaper say.


  1. hey.. ever heard heard of a chemistry teacher back in jams.. Tripathy?? he has his own coaching and he also teaches chem in Fucking Chinmaya.. yeah thats the new name I have given that school after spending two horrid years there.. hehe.. so anyways, coming back to my original point.. so this teacher of mine used to say... Tum agar India mein kabhi bhi patthar utha ke fekoge, to ya toh woh koi kutta pe girega nahin toh koi engineer pe... hahaha.. quite correct eh??

  2. and according to one of my teachers if all the engineers of india are made to stand on one another then they will surely reach to the moon