Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Irritating Imbalances and a post for the rest of us...

I hate beginning posts like this..but hey, what the hell?! A good friend once wrote on his Facebook wall, the easiest way to get people's attention is by saying Jobs on an admissions guidance forum. This good friend possessed an insight not normally possessed by people, but then again, that's why he is presumably a good friend. Now, everyone knows there are in fact two ways to get any average college-goer's attention. The first involves shouting "X Lakhs per annum" at a random spot inside the college(replace X with a suitable double digit number), the second involves taking your bra off.

Since I do not own a bra, and would find it highly reprehensible(not to mention morally questionable) to be found in possession of one, I must take the former route.

70 lakhs per annum, is a sum of money that most of us would find a little incomprehensible to digest(or spend). I mean not all of us are MLAs or drug dealers or Facebook programmers. The whole point with the salary explosion now faced by the average Computer Science student is that it is so bloody unsustainable it makes me want to throw somebody into a fire(preferably someone from Goldman Sachs). While salaries for those in CS have climbed up to nearly unscalable heights, salaries for the remaining few of us have stayed near about the same or have actually worsened. It can't be considered a surprise either, we are hardly facing the best time in our economic growth story.

The question now is, have these recent big shot recruiters found some topical analgesic for the world's economic woes? Can they afford to go to far flung countries and recruit the best brains in the world and throw insane amounts of money at them for no apparent reason? The answer is, obviously not, and that we are sitting on probably the worst bubble in internet history since the 2000 dotcom bust. But that still doesn't solve the problem. You see the problem with these bigshot recuiters and India's screwed up foreign exchange situation is that they have artificially widened the divide between CS and non CS into the bloody Grand Canyon. If you have heard the question,"Beta, X branch me scope hai?", you may now reply confidently enough, "Nahi uncle, bas CS me scope hai..baaki sab branches toh timepass ke liye khol rakha hai".

This skewered system is not only bad for the mindset of students in the country, it is downright reprehensible. This is like giving the mechanic a middle finger and a sad chuckle, and giving your house to the guy who puts a TV screen in your car. There is no easy solution for this, except to be pragmatic, and remember that the industries that actually USE computers do not actually employ computer engineers. Computer engineering, and more particularly the creation of software is kinda like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle. It's tough, its mentally demanding, and it just wouldn't be possible without the idiots who made jigsaws, or the idiots who made the room you're putting it together in, or those other idiots who keep the fans running. You really cannot have software engineers, without the other sort of engineers, the boring kind, that wear hard hats, and black shoes and shirts with collars.

While currently all that those particular engineers have to go on are a sense of pride and a passion for the job, it is important to note that the bigger picture needs to be taken into account. The monetization of social media, and the boom that has been piggybacked with it, is essentially nonexistent. That while the imbalance between some particular breed of CS students may seem large right now, it is much better, and much safer, to do what the smart people have always done.

Stick to what you're good at. You won't have to do it for free(unless you want to of course).

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Lakhs of Success

Now it has taken a great deal of bravery, a burnt hand, and a singed soul to take up the cudgels again and get back to what I do best, write random nonsense about absolutely nothing. Indeed my absence on the blogoshpere would have left as much a mark on it as a housefly could be expected to leave on an African elephant. (Yes, not those stupid Indian ones). But hey, since my getting back to writing would be tantamount to roughly the same, I might as well choose the latter. And on a day of revelations, it might interest you to know that the largest selling shaving cream in India(by over 100%) is manufactured in New Delhi by a large number of Sardarjis who go by the name Kochhar. Yes, I am not talking about the Gillette corporation here.

Anyway, what is really unfortunate these days is the sort of razor sharp cutting edge focus our younger generation seems to have. Most of the queries on my (ex-)college admissions guidance forum deal now with placements. And the students are hard nosed about it all... they are very particular about how many lakhs of rupees to expect in their first jobs, how many lakhs of rupees it might cost for them to give up a job and get into some sort of a higher (higher) education programme, and how many lakhs of rupees their senior earned, and how many lakhs of rupees might be on offer at so and so branch. In short, the students of today seem less preoccupied about what they hell they would like to spend studying for the next four years of their lives..and more guessed it..lakhs of rupees.

All of this is done, however, without taking into account exactly HOW those lakhs of rupees are disbursed to the students concerned. No one asks about the companies involved, or the work, or how exactly to go about getting better grades or the specifics of a branch. Indeed, at that level, 17 years old, having just cracked a major exam it should be the least of your worries which branch you choose or which company you would like to get placed in. Indeed all that any average 17 year old should be worried about are bikes, and girls. And well, moeny seems like a very logical way to go about getting girls...and of course bikes. And ipso facto, IITians, and engineering graduates in general, do seem to be able to generate a lot of money. Insane amounts of it, judging by the astronomical spurt in starting salaries these days.

Which is why it would seem justified to take your eyes spectacularly off the ball here, dear reader. I dont really think jobs aound here are judged by the quality of work, hours you need to put in or the scope for future growth. Indeed, passion does not figure very highly on the jobseekers shortlist of desirables. Nor should it. We are a country where half the population lives and dies without figuring out what it wants to do, forget about what it would be good at. No one knows what their interest is here. Mostly, it is either handed to them, or they resign to it hoping that they really wouldn't end up worse than the other guy. And it doesn't matter because as long as our education system remains results oriented(as it needs to be in order to support a billion people) people would only look at the sort of money they can make, as opposed to the sort of work they can do.

Now none of this matters, because our services output is like the proverbial elephant, and our students are the proverbial houseflies. The only difference is success, and once you get out of the lakhs of rupees mentality(and yes, it IS pretty difficult) you realise that it is not about what your education can do for you.

It's about what you can do with your education.