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Wasted in engineering-story of India’s youth’ by Prabhu Swaminathan- a critical analysis

It was the judgment day of my life!
The day when state JEE results was out!
I never had any expectation that I can find a place in the merit list. I never felt attracted about being an engineer-skillfully managing all odds! In fact I had a passion for physics. But from the school days my teachers, my parents and my ‘well wishers’ always whispered to my ears-that if you can’t fare well in engineering entrance it will be the end of road for you. There is no future in pursuing a three year bachelor degree in general stream ,there are no future scope, no future openings and so on! But if you can crack the entrance with a respectable grade then the stairway to heaven will be open for you and it’s a matter of time for you to step on that ‘heaven’.
These were good old days when there were a handful of state run technical institutions in our state –no private college, no PPP model, no capitation fee, no management quota! Naturally the seats were limited!
I went to the center where results were displayed in trembling heart and scrolled from top to bottom of the merit list ( at that time the word online was an alien word ). Not a hint of my name!
I was not surprised, but how to face my school teachers, parents and “well wishers”? I came back to my residence, my head down and my body language depicting someone who had just performed a heinous crime! For the next couple of month, everybody except my parents used to look at me with an eye of sympathy! This boy has no future! All his efforts will be limited in standing in front of employment exchange! And what about my parents? Well, let it be hidden.
Time is the best healer and after some months when those tidal waves of sympathy had died down somehow, I was able to concentrate on my studies of physics-which was my real love! Then I completed my masters and entered into state civil service. However when I meet with my old buddies who are now well skilled ‘engineer’- I feel somehow that my life hadn’t been wasted( please don’t ask for a salary comparison chart!)
One of my cousins has recently been graduated from one of the countless technical institutions that are recently been sprouting in our state and immediately secured a trainee position in one of the topmost manufacturing company of India (he is from I.T. stream). His parents usually paint a very rosy picture about his salary and perks and …., but when I discuss the matters with the boy himself, I get a completely different picture! I am not commenting or elaborating anything on this issue, but it is surely a dangerous ploy on the part of the guardian to stress out the mind of the ‘boy’ (he is barely 22 now)! Trying to fulfill the unfilled desire of the parents through their child is painstaking!
India produces every year about 1.5 million ‘skilled’ engineers-more than the U.SA. and china combined together. But the irony is basically two segments are here in India to absorb that huge pool of talent –I.T and manufacturing and virtually both sectors are on a slowdown. Our I.T. sector is virtually doing the back end job of the developed world! This project oriented jobs are like migratory birds-depends on global trends. It’s here because the hiring charge of Indian talent pool is terribly cheap. Given cheaper option, it can overnight fly to china! Then when there is a global slump, the industry will be in a shell.
The ultimate result is that our technical graduated are accepting jobs for which they are overqualified and resulting in underpaid technical graduates. Not only that, these blue eyed boys of the society (girls too) are taking up criminal activities like chain snatching, car lifting and so on!
A heavy price has to be paid for these students ,who at their convocation are declared as engineering graduates. Stress from the childhood, running as fast as you can in this mad rat race, sometimes taking the shelter of suicide to cope with the mounting pressure of life- we are now seasoned to these pathetic headlines. We now rarely react to those headlines. Only because these facts are not related to our near and dear ones!
But if the matter embraces somebody like Prabhu Swaminathan , who himself is a sufferer of the system. To share his experience with millions of Indian youth, the young electrical engendering graduate (now employed in a financial position) has authored his debut effort ‘Wasted in engineering-story of India’s youth’-a first person account of his experience in the course coupled with his impression about the system that produces millions of engineers in India.
The book is divided into fifteen chapters-each analyzing different aspects of the traditional education system and drawbacks of the technical education in India. Written in a simple way the author presented his views and his chronicle of engineering college. The first chapter is a prologue of the book. Presenting it from the angle of our young writer, his quest for sunshine amid pressure all around forms the central theme of the book. He has rightly commented-
“We are a nation of misfits. Students of engineering colleges end up as artists while several arts students study arts only because they couldn’t qualify for or afford in an engineering degree. There are some who take engineering because they actually like engineering and want to make a career out of it, but these are only a minority among the lakhs of engineering students. The majority of us join engineering with no interest or purpose.”
But don’t be confused-it’s not the success story of Hari of Five point someone –it’s the account of one who succumbs to the peer pressure. In his honest confession it’s the story of his failure as engineer!
Why a student joins science stream? Is it because of high sounding words like his love, passion, dedication for science or due to sheer fact that he has scored high marks in his board exams and his guardians simply want him to harbor to some safe and respectable port like engineering! And what about the sports quota? Why a talented sportsperson is compelled to join the technical courses?
Why a student is ‘compelled’ to join these technical institutions? There are many socioeconomic imperatives. A detailed study has been made by our writer to investigate the root causes. Many astonishing facts have been revealed-right from gender perspective to the traditional educational system pitfalls.
Rather than insisting on quality education several technical institutions insist on trivial matter such as dress code, submission of leave applications, carrying of ID cards and blanket ban of cell phones! Natural utterance of a frustrated mind
“Violating college rules is not the same as violating the rules of government of India. What is seen as a crime or a mistake under the college’s rules and regulations need not be a crime under the Indian penal code or the Indian constitution.”
If you are already enrolled as an engineering course then what to do has been explained by the author in a lucid way. Some tips that we all know but forget every time when there is time to implement. Here we feel that the narration will be much more worthy of reading if added a bit of personal touch-his own story!
Many an engineering graduates had shifted from being a technocrat-some as general administrators, some in management positions, some in acting, some in singing, and some as budding entrepreneurs! The list is endless. And yes, their lives have not been in vain!
In a very satirical way Prabhu narrates how a technocrat is underpaid in today’s india. It’s a fact that
“During the colonial rules in India, ‘Indians not allowed’ boards were kept outside some of European clubs. It is a matter of times before ‘engineers not allowed’ board is kept outside companies”
We, the people never bother to think! It is not our home affair after all. But it may happen in one of our home that our own somebody takes the easy path of suicide –unable to cope up! Even then will we be able to speak up?
Or will we blame our own destiny?
We may indulge in some soul searching.
But I am afraid then it will be too late!
However Prabhu has shown us some light at the end of the tunnel. Situations are changing slowly, but it’s changing. In his words-‘there is a growing recognition today that happy low paying job is better than a stressful high paying job.’
This idea rich work can be a perfect guide to those millions who are going to shape the new India.

Notion press did creditably in respect of paper quality and printing.

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