An open letter to Ministry of HRD, Government of India.

Subject: An open letter to Ministry of HRD, Government of India.
From: Vishal Lavania
Date: 29 May 2014
An open letter to Ministry of HRD, Government of India

This letter has been written to pose a question that nobody has thought of 'till now and has to be taken care of urgently.

The Mechanical Engineering course in BITS-PILANI, K.K. Birla Goa Campus is struggling in terms of placement. The same condition exists in rest of the premier institutes in India. They are struggling for placements in the core branches of mechanical, chemical, electronics and to some extent electrical. But the current situation is not much the fault of the students, the faculty or the placement team. The following reasons which I feel impact the placements are :

i) With the current market conditions of high inflation and low growth rate of GDP (<5%), the companies have gone on a hiring freeze till the business ecosystem changes to their favourable terms.

ii) With the growth of various service industry in India, these provide opportunities for brilliant and highly intelligent engineers from BITS/IITs/NITs to find better paying and more satisfied work profile which utilize the innate ability to solve problems (whether engineering or not). !--break--

This year, in almost all new IITs as well as a large number of NITs, students of mechanical, civil or any other non- CSE branch have learnt coding, got placed, went to non-core firms or have stayed with core, unplaced. And even if you observe closely the pattern of companies in older IITs, the number of core companies was too less.

The major problem this situation poses is where is this nation heading? A country's development rises as its GDP contribution moves from the primary and secondary (production & manufacturing) economic activities to service sector. The way this nation's service and IT sector has grown is phenomenal and this should clearly show that our nation is enjoying a ride of development. But that isn't the complete story. Another point is the industrial growth. Yes the newspapers keep on barking about slow industrial growth but what do these two things have in common?

The fact is that India's development on industrial front has almost come to a standstill. Our R&D sector in industries has suffocated. We may be proud of manufacturing Nano and Akash tablet but the fact is that we have choked ourselves in keeping pace with other nations, due to which almost all industry is running on imported technology. And with time this import process has grown only and we are turning to be a net importer economy. We have heavily imported products like electronic goods, electronic machines and to a great surprise, things like toys as well. In spite of having world's fifth largest coal resources, due to deteriorating technology India has not been able to extract its own coal efficiently and because of that we are the third largest importer of coal. This is just an example and there are a lot more cases where we are importing many things that we can very well extract. These imported products are also a major reason of our fiscal deficit.

With all this what I want to mark out is that we have to put investment into innovation and R&D of manufacturing and industrial set-up. And apart from investment we need to put our best brains to work in this field. And that is why the placement session this year has shivered me. People belonging to Non IT branches ran blindly after CSE courses. Even in my own institute and many other IITs, people from Civil and Mechanical have given priority to CSE courses more than core courses. And the offer made by core companies for these students is too small as compared to IT companies in IITs as well as NITs. For those who are from non-engineering background, the JEE rank based choice selection in all IITs is that all top rankers go to CSE and then those who left out go to other branches. Now what I am feeling after witnessing this trend is that within a few years, students will start even sacrificing IITs, non-IT branches for IT branch at any NIT or any other college, which means that all students who are left out of IT departments will go to these branches and even those who will unfortunately get these courses will focus more on IT industry rather than learning the core courses. And in that case we are going to land in a huge scarcity of efficient engineers and think tank in this sector.

Three Idiots might have very easily conveyed that do what inspires you, but in real world very few people can move on such path where you will suffer economically. And those who will continue doing this, will for sure not stay in this country as in other parts of world they respect non-IT people a lot and that is what I personally have been suggested by a number of people.

The danger bells are already ringing but nobody is actually paying attention towards this. One can't eat, wear and drive softwares! This is a serious issue that has to be addressed quickly before we reach a position from where backtracking becomes impossible.

Yours sincerely.