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IT boom or bane?

THOMAS GEORGE

I read with great interest the article ‘Placement parables and IT industry’ by Raji A Raouf (Open Page, June 3). I totally agree with the author. Today the software firms are luring newly passed out engineering and humanities graduates. What they require are trainable employees to do the sundry jobs. In the process we are losing out on the bigger picture of nation building to fulfil our President’s dream of making the country a developed nation.

Manufacturing strengths

Does this spell the end of core engineering (mechanical, electrical, chemical and civil)? Not at all. IT like healthcare is only supportive. All developed countries have reached their pre-eminence because of manufacturing strengths. It is important that the IT sector should integrate with the manufacturing sector within the country to produce goods we can sell.

But why do we go for software or management jobs? Chetan Bhagat, the author of Five Point Someone, was a Mechanical Engineering graduate. He studied capstan and turret lathes, struggled to learn the concepts of air compressors and multipoint fuel injection systems and now he is working for an investment bank. Why does this happen? The following factors are responsible:

* Haste to get a job: The youth of India are eager to get a job. Most companies come for placements as early as the sixth semester. During that time the only conversation that echoes through the campus is placement related. So the students are subjected to a lot of pressure. It is actually humiliating not to be placed. So the students grab whatever job they are offered, not thinking whether it relates to what they have learnt.

* IT companies have more to offer in monetary terms than any other company. The higher pay cheques are due to the offshore nature of the jobs and the huge government concessions. This factor could also spell the stagnation of our indigenous manufacturing. Here again we are happy with short-term gains and are content with the generous ‘peanuts’ offered by the software companies.

* Another reason is that the popular big time manufacturing companies do not want fresh engineering students. This trend will slowly decimate the core engineering capabilities. It is time the manufacturing sector hired more of the fresh talent.

* The present engineering colleges do not make the students think big and develop entrepreneurial skills. We are satisfied with the so-called ‘fat’ salary we get. This will prevent us from thinking on entrepreneurial lines. The focus should be on setting up engineering firms, which can create more jobs for the core engineers.

* The trend of easily getting software jobs stymies the need to excel in the core competencies giving the students a laid-back attitude. This will hit the very foundations of our economy. For a long-term economic agenda we need to manufacture quality goods.

It is time we stopped glamorising the software jobs. Yes, computerisation is important. But it should be used as a tool to increase our productivity. At present the developed countries use our talent to improve their productivity. This is done by outsourcing menial software jobs.

Our model should be the Chinese who are challenging the world with their manufacturing abilities. With firm democratic values we can develop our manufacturing base sans the Chinese shortcomings. The entry of auto majors setting up manufacturing base in India is a ray of hope. The setting up of the space university is also a step in the right direction. What we need is industry support for core science and engineering courses. This will jump-start a whole new development paradigm.

( The writer is a third year Mechanical Engineering student at Sathyabhama University, Chennai. He can be reached at >tgshimon@yahoo.com)



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