The miles to go before I sleep...

  • Start teaching science at school and incorporate demo
  • Research, design, implement comprehensive teaching module on science, civic sense
  • Interview social change agents working @ ground level
  • Pilot peer-to-peer teaching programme

Sunday, November 13, 2005

BE Vs. B.Sc

Say the word "India" and the first that would come to people's mind all over the world is IT. For sure, IT boom has catapulted India's image from poor beggars capable of sleeping on a bed of nails or snake charmers who can also charm ropes, to smart, intelligent, adaptive, ambitious and most importantly, English speaking technologists and businessmen. In other words, India is a big talent pool, a large overseas market and hence a very fast growing economy. Its good to see India trying to take steps to maximise the opportunity it has got.

But I guess there are certain issues that are not yet addressed. No, I am not talking about the elimination of poverty or corruption. Those are oft discussed, but stagnant topics. I am talking about the educational stream Vs. career prospect lopsidedness.

If you are scratching your head about what I am talking about. Here is the scenario. Today, if one graduates out of any college (not necessarily a reputed one) as an engineer, he/she has a bright chances of landing in a decently paid job (More often than not, that job will be IT related). But, barring a very few exceptions, a science graduate has virtually no chance of getting placed anywhere. And I see only *one* reason to it. Service-oriented IT companies limit their technical workforce only to BE graduates. The notion among the companies' hiring team that a mechanical engineer from a not-so-great college will be a better fit than a B.Sc. CS graduate for a computer programming job is nothing more than superstition.

This creates an unequal distribution of job prospects across different educational fields. Having spent a few years of my lifetime in the US, (where else!) this is one clear difference that I have noticed between the two countries. Any educational qualification (even high school) has a sizable pool of jobs that one can land in and make both ends meet. (That explains the fact that a very low percentage of high school graduates go on to graduate with a Bachelors degree in the US). The question here, is "Will I ever get a job?", the question there "Will this qualification fetch me a job that will pay me well enough?".

To reach there, we should work on redistributing the educational qualification Vs. job-prospect mismatch. For starters, I would suggest that the IT service oriented companies start hiring from relevant science graduates (with say, CS, physics or math specialisation) for atleast some of their jobs. (After all, we are still doing more service than innovation). If my guesses are not way off, this might trigger a lot of other phenomenon. More high school graduates will consider science specialisation as a viable option (rather than paying huge capitation fees to engineering colleges). With more students from science colleges getting place in reputed firms, reputation and hence competition among institution will increase. This will in turn, lead to improvements in infrastructure.

On the other hand, with more people going for science field, a number of engineering colleges whose infrastructure is no more than rooms, will disappear allowing the universities to concentrate better on improving the quality of engineering education and infrastructure. Infrastructure improvement in engineering by itself is worth another blog. I hope to dedicate one for that in the near future. For now, its for you (sitting across the table) to put your thoughts OverTea!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Good Work Government!

Rains and relief in Chennai:
I had been to chennai for the Diwali vacations for a week, which eventually falls on the week that followed a week of incessent rains and flooding. I had done a fair bit of travelling around the city and followed up the news, both on TV and news paper. I found that, inspite of a record downpour, normalcy has been restored fast (in a week) to most of the city (though not so in North Chennai!). Relief camps have been setup in 10 areas for relocation of people in low-lying areas. Army was called in for relief operations in suburbs like Madippakkam (which is close to my home!) and trains were restored to operation fast. Good to see news channels like NDTV commend the way the corporation handled the whole issue. NDTV also noted that during the second round of showers following the Diwali week, the officials learned from mistakes in the previous to ensure proper drainage of water in subways. My applause to Chennai corporation for the good work and my encouragements to keep it up. Hope the also learn a little bit from the Vyasarpadi stampede to organise the distribution of food and clothes better!

Rediff: Uniform call rate across the country:
This is a welcome measure apart from numerous other efforts by Comm. and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran. I always believe that the best way to measure a country's progress is to look at how easier the life of a normal man gets. This sure is a good step forward since it makes the life of the rich and the poor alike! Great job. To be cautious, I would hope that after the uniform call rates is set, it would not be set to the current STD rates :)