Are our Engineers employable??

Engineers’ Day is celebrated every year throughout the country on September 15th to commemorate the birthday of Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya. Let us see where engineering education of our country stands after 60 years of independence.

A serious problem is staring India’s higher education in the face. Its about the misalignment between education and employment.

We proudly claim to have the largest pool of engineers. This is the resource which forms the backbone of India’s rapidly growing IT industry along with the other sectors. But, India’s HUGE pool of young graduates actually have fewer number of suitable candidates employable by MNCs and their off shoring arms. Infact, only 25% of India’s engineering graduates are considered employable material by MNCs. The quality of education in India varies widely and while IITs and NITs are world class,other engineering colleges are nowhere close. Many factors contribute to malaise : outdated curriculum, obsolete equipments, teachers who don’t update their knowledge base, management that lacks commitment to academic excellence, rote learning, exam oriented teaching, lack of activity-based learning through team effort and lack of practical training.

The Most Valuable Employee

The biggest failure of our University system is that students are not taught “soft skills”- the competence to discuss, analyse, innovate and communicate.The findings of the committee set up by University of Mumbai found 42 affiliated engineering colleges falling way below the standards set by AICTE, and it even included reasonably well known colleges such as Rizvi College and KJ Somaiya, Sion.

Below are the few measures from a student’s perspective which can make him a better graduate:-

  1. Opportunities for students to do short term or certificate courses along with the degree courses. These courses should be linked to areas in which employment opportunities are opening.
  2. A common curriculum and syllabus throughout the country along the guidelines of the IITs.
  3. Emphasis on practical training rather than theoretical.
  4. A semester dedicated for Industrial training and honing technical skills under the guidance of the experts, which is absent in many major universities & colleges.
  5. Since the university system is not making the graduates compatible, many companies have to spend substantial resources to train fresh recruits. An “Industry based” syllabi is the need of the hour to produce “Industry ready Engineers”.

The government currently spends only 0.1% of GDP on technical Education, which is a very miniscule number.

In India most of the top Engineering graduates emigrate.

This apart, only 4% of India’s graduates are engineers whereas this figure is as high as 20% in Germany and 30% in China. Therefore, as recommended by Moily Oversight Committee, new IITs and NITs should be setup every year all over the country, in order to counter the shortage of quality engineers.

NASSCOM estimates shortfall of about 5 lakh employable graduates by 2010. Hence, it is important to ensure steady supply of young graduates so that India does not lose the advantage of having a large population.

India has a long way to go, both in terms of quality and quantity in higher education. An urgent reform in education has become a necessity. Since our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh himself has once served as the chairman of UGC, we hope he will push for the reforms in the education system which will propel us in achieving the status of a developed nation.

No Hindi Please!!!!

Hindi hamari pehchan hai September 14 is Hindi Divas.

Hindi is a direct descendant of Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha. It has been influenced and enriched by Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portugese and English languages. It is a very expressive language. In poetry and songs, it can convey emotions using simple and gentle words. It can also be used for exact and rational reasoning.
More than 180 million people in India regard Hindi as their mother tongue. Another 300 million use it as second language. Outside of India, Hindi speakers number 100,000 in USA; 685,170 in Mauritius; 890,292 in South Africa; 232,760 in Yemen; 147,000 in Uganda; 5,000 in Singapore; 8 million in Nepal; 20,000 in New Zealand; 30,000 in Germany. Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, spoken by about 41 million in Pakistan and other countries, is essentially the same language. These are the facts concerning Hindi which is the third most-spoken language in the world. Our identity is Hindi but of late Hindi is getting step-motherly treatment from Indians themselves.

It is a paradox that is indicative of an emerging trend in Bollywood – the country’s pan-Indian film industry may make its movies in the national language but prefers to have its scripts written in a colonial one. In other words, no Hindi please, we prefer Angrezi.
“When VVS Laxman walked in to discuss the first day’s play with the media on Friday evening, there were audible groans — bowlers were the stars of the day, and the reporters were hoping to chat with Zaheer Khan. Minutes later, leaving Laxman mid-sentence — he was answering a question in Hindi — one by one, the British journalists walked up to the table, picked up their voice recorders and walked out.”

Now I narrate an incident which took place a few days back. I was commuting by a local train, when a woman asked me in English if I could make place for her. Why she could not have asked me in Hindi, I wondered. Was it necessary to use English? Wherever I go, people choose to speak English, though most of them are fluent in Hindi. Even the educational system has adopted English as the medium of instruction. Should not Hindi have been given priority?

I am surprised that politicians use English in Parliament and even in Republic Day and Independence Day speeches. I have seen youngsters who are proudly declare that they do not know their national language. The use of Hindi has been reduced to the use of slang. Parents feel inferior if their child is unable to converse in English. There are so many English-speaking classes conducted, but not a single Hindi-speaking class.

We are in the 60th year of our independence, but how independent are we? All industries, including the media, fashion and management communicate only in English. Pilots have been fired because they do not know English. I do not wish to insult English. But people should be bi-lingual and speak both Hindi and English fluently. English is the pair of spectacles, while Hindi is the eye. If people do not have eyes, of what use are the spectacles? I feel proud when Indians do not feel inferior while communicating with foreigners, but what if they are asked to speak Hindi? Do the Japanese or Chinese face similar problems? They have come a long way, but do they really need to depend on a foreign language like our youth do?

It is always good to know a foreign language and culture, but not at the cost of the local language. I would like to conclude by quoting Bapu, “There should be no use of foreign language between two people knowing the same language, the use of the other language then, should be punished.”

The world is changing and it is always sensible to change with the changing situation. But we cannot afford to forget Hindi and its rich culture because it is the pillar our country rests on. If this support were to weaken, it would lead to a catastrophe. It is high time we respected our mother tongue national language. The Hindi Divas should not be the only day when we remember our identity, i.e. Hindi.

Happy days are here again for Indian Hockey

Jubiliant Indian Team after winning Asia Cup 2007INDIAN HOCKEY had gone blind. Like a once-beautiful woman choosing to be oblivious to the havoc age had wrought on her, hockey had refused to acknowledge and arrest its decline. It was a free fall into an abyss. That’s Indian hockey for you — governed by a body conducting matters in a manner that could remind you of the Middle Ages. The last year ended with India finishing last in the six-nation Champions Trophy in Chennai and thereby crashing out of the next event in Spain in July. The year also ended with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) President, Els van Breda Vriesman blasting the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) for being the worst national body among the top nations.The IHF has not changed its style of functioning but the Indian hockey players have changed their ways in the last six months or so. First they won a bronze in Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament. India retained the Asia Cup giving South Korea a 7-2 drubbing on Sunday. The decisive manner in which the victory was scored has given the coach Joaquim Carvalho plenty of cause for optimism ahead of next year’s Olympic qualifiers. The win has brought the smiles back to many hockey fans and staunch supporters of the game. The number of people that turned out to watch the finals was also encouraging. The face of Indian Hockey will certainly change with a few more victories like this. The Indian Hockey team looked like a changed unit as well. The fitness level, the energy, the team spirit and the aggression was all there. Carvalho also hailed his players’ fitness and teamwork after the former world power rattled up 57 goals and conceded just five over seven games, beating South Korea twice and edging out surprise Asiad silver medalists China on the way to glory. It is difficult to single out any Indian player for appreciation as each one of them contributed, playing their roles to perfection in India’s win. They were rightly given a standing ovation by the spectators at the overflowing stadium.

The sports ministry, a few months back, withdrew hockey from the list of priority sports. The decision was not a welcome move for our national sport. Hockey has been the most successful sport in India. It is the only sport which has got gold medals for India at the Olympics. Now after a few good performances, the IOA President wants hockey to be back in the priority list. The President, Prime Minister, MPs, etc have congratulated the team on its splendid performance.

The reactions all over the world to the win have confirmed one thing – if India starts winning again in leading tournaments, it will help hockey’s revival in In-dia. Hockey is India’s national game with a very rich legacy. It was going through a lean phase, but from all indications it is on a comeback trail. The revival of hockey, or any sport, can happen only if more people play the game at the grass roots level build the infrastructure to make that possible. Let us have more grounds for our children. Let schools inculcate a sporting culture in students. We will then have better players and better teams.

POWs: Let’s bring our heroes back

A File Picture of Indian POWsDID YOU KNOW that there are still 54 Indian soldiers incarcerated in Pakistani prisons post the Indo-Pak war of 1971? It is an irony that even after the comprehensive victory, India could not negotiate freedom for her soldiers who were trapped by the enemy in the heat of war.

These prisoners are no ordinary mortals. They fought for the honour and glory of the country and have to be treated as such. They do not deserve to remain in the dark and dingy cells of an enemy nation. They are our heroes. Their tale should have formed part of India’s martial folklore and their names taken with respect and pride. Today they remain forgotten, mere names in the files lost in the labyrinth of the South Block. It is a collective failure of the entire nation. Not one government since 1971 has made a sincere attempt to get them released. Not one politician chose to take up their cause. As a nation, we have displayed only callous indifference towards these soldiers who fought to preserve the country’s freedom and in the process, lost their own.

Government of India should make it a point to place the release of the Indian soldiers high on the agenda of talks with President Musharraf. If pressed hard enough, Pakistan will have to accept India’s request. What is required is a display of serious resolve by Indian negotiators. As citizens of India it is our responsibility to impress upon the government to deal with this case very seriously. The release of our soldiers can very well mark a small but significant turning point in the long road to peace.

A collective effort can surely help secure freedom for our heroes. It’s time we fight for those who fought for us. If we fail to raise our voice now it will be too late and will be a blot on the entire nation.

The families of the POWs are fighting a lonely battle for the last 36 years. There are few others who have done their bit to bring this issue forward. YFE (Youth For Equality) has also started an awareness campaign through a play in Mumbai on this issue. But what is required is a collective effort of all concerned citizens.

Rape, Pay a compensation & Be free. This is India!!!

Rape, Pay a compensation & Be free. This is India!!!Rape is one of the most heinous crimes done by one human to control, dominate and force the other to their own will. It is a prevalent world-wide. Whatever reasons might be behind it – social, religious or in wars, it carries the same crushing shame, anger and emotional trauma.

Let us see the following figures :-

Every 26 minutes a woman in India is molested. Every 34 minutes a woman is raped. Every 42 minutes a woman is sexually harassed. Every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped. Every 93 minutes a woman is killed. And those are just the cases that are reported.

As for the cases that are reported, very few get punishment. Often the woman is bombarded with all sorts of humiliating questions and the cases are withdrawn midway. If the perpetrator is influential and rich, its assured that justice will be thrown out of the window. This has been proved time and again. We cannot cut down the trauma caused by the actual rape but we can give the emotional support that the victim needs and see that rapist is behind the bars. This would at least result in the reduction of rape crimes in the country. But story is very different.

Now read this :-
A very shocking verdict came from a judge in Tamil Nadu, who set aside the conviction of a rapist because he offered Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the victim. The verdict delivered a month ago is a trauma to the victim. Now question arises can a convicted rapist be let off because he is rich? Is this not a total travesty of the justice. How can a convicted rapist be acquitted because he agrees to pay compensation? Does that means anyone with money can rape with impunity? We might as well dispense with trials, courts, lawyers and judges. Why bother with the legal system? Just put the price list of rape. It is shocking that for a criminal offence a person could be let off lightly.
I am also amazed that no one, be it social organizations, women groups, media has picked it up except an English daily.

In India more than 80% rape cases go unreported because the victim is looked upon as if she is at fault and somehow asked for it. Not many people have faith in the law system and as a result the victim has to suffer all by herself and to see her rapist roaming around freely. The very few go against all odds for justice and then if they are treated like this, the situation cannot be more worst for women in India.

The judiciary needs an overhaul and more stringent laws are required to curb violence and crime against women. Rape should be considered at par with murder. The necessary reforms are very essential so that rich men cannot consider law as their property. Does this mean that such rulings only send signals to the society that our women can be raped, murdered and you can pay the compensation to buy your freedom??

Indian Youth and Politics

Politics has lost its charm among Indian youthPOLITICS is perhaps the most commonly used word in every sphere of life these days. Now when independent India has reached the age of 60, why not have a look at the youth and their perception of politics?

Independent India has completed a journey of 60 successful years. During this period we have witnessed the worst and the best. The changes our country went through have helped it to evolve as a stronger and progressive nation in the world. It’s no secret that for our generation politics as a career comes way down the career option list. Politics is losing its appeal amongst the youth of India.

Reasons are many like rampant corruption, criminalisation of politics, apathy towards people’s needs; lack of accountability and the list goes on. When we have so many options to explore, why should we dirty our hands in politics?

We put the blame on the government and our elected members whenever we see or feel that our representatives are not doing their job efficiently. But more than 50 per cent of population does not take part in political process of our country. Thus we have no right to blame anyone except ourselves. We all feel that the system needs to be changed but we don’t want to take the responsibility on our shoulders. We have potential human resources who can change the scenario, but they choose to go to UK or US for studies and jobs and restrict their lives only to their “secured” jobs and settle there permanently.

The perception of our generation about politics has generally been negative. Though we have few young politicians, they have not been allowed to stretch their wings. The politicians need to open up and promote the young generation in the mainstream politics. It is stereotype to think that only people with gray hair can become successful politicians. In UK, Tony Blair retires at 58 while in our country the chief posts are mostly occupied by the politicians above 50 years of age. The younger generation doesn’t have any outlet to show their principles of leadership. Now ask the youth of India about the politics and there’s an answer straight on your face. Who wants to join the politics?

But is turning away from the politics and maintaining a distance form political class really a solution?

Changing dysfunctional behaviour is difficult but not impossible. If we as a nation have to move ahead and build the country of our dreams, we have to use politics as a medium to ensure that government remains sensitive and accountable to the people. We come back to the same question. Who will take this country into the era of prosperity, economic growth, sustained development and all round progress?

It will have to be a collective effort. We will have to work together with a common goal in mind. We have come a long way but journey by no means is over. It is important to make this growth sustainable. India has large productive and young population as her asset.

If we truly believe that the future of any country lies in the hands of the youth than we need to take a step forward. Only youth can change the pace and width of the course of our nation’s progress and make India a global giant. If we want to see a better India it’s time to take charge. We have to build a foundation now for a prosperous future. Unless youth feel concerned and gets involved in politics at all stages, we cannot expect a nation to grow.

Remember, it is not good for a nation when its citizens only complain and expect someone else to fix their problems.

Vijay Divas: Paying tribute to Kargil Heroes

Indian Soldiers after victory in KargilTODAY IS JULY 26TH; it was on this day two years ago when floods gripped Mumbai city and many people lost their lives. Let’s pay our homage to the people who became victims of nature on that day.

Now let me take you few years back when the whole nation stood behind great Indian Armed Forces but seems to have forgotten the young men who gave their life for us in the conditions considered to be unsuitable for human survival. Their families that got enormous support when the heat was on, are now fighting each battle of life alone.

India was busy celebrating the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s successful Lahore visit. Pakistan was busy putting its pawns in place for war with India. The battleground was high, the terrain was inhospitable, and the task was tough. The Indian soldier’s resolve was stronger, and the enemy got a fitting battering.

And it has been eight years today, eight years since our pride was restored.

Because July 26 is Vijay Divas, the day we celebrate our victory in the Kargil War, it is the day the Indian soldiers helped us hold our heads high. It was on this day in the year 1999 that the Indian victory over Pakistan was complete. True to its character despite having to pay a heavy price for fighting a war within its territory, the Indian forces allowed the Pakistanis to return from the Line of Control. It was a gesture which depicted the great Indian tradition of forgiving even the enemy, when it pleads for it. For Pakistan, it was another lesson which it would probably not forget for a long time. It would also put Pakistan to shame, for it chose to torture and kill the Indian prisoners of War, rather than handing them over safely as was done by India through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The war took place between May 8, when Pakistani forces and Kashmiri militants were detected atop the Kargil ridges and July 14 when both sides had essentially ceased their military operations. It is believed that the planning for the operation, by Pakistan, may have occurred about as early as the autumn of 1998. Though Indian forces initially suffered some losses, they were able to gain control of various heights very quickly. The Indian soldiers were victorious everywhere. The Pakistanis were surrounded from all sides. Despite fighting uphill, the brave Indian officers and jawans cut through the Pakistani barricades. And for once the nation stood united like never before.

Unable to face the humiliation inflicted by the Indian forces, Pakistan finally did acknowledge that some of the dead were their men. But then it asked India to hand over the bodies to the ICRC rather than accepting them directly.

Kargil has lessons for both, India and Pakistan.

The lesson for Pakistan is, it must understand that dialogue is the best course for sorting out mutual problems between the two countries. Pakistan should make honest efforts to ensure that a General doesn’t takes steps that sabotage the peace process “I learnt about Kargil war misadventure of Musharraf against India from Indian Prime Minister,” then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said recently.

India ’s policy of peace has earned her recognition from world over, yet it must not take defence preparedness for granted. Kargil is also termed as intelligence failure and negligence. India must make sure that such lapses don’t happen in future and every measure should be taken to make intelligence system more powerful.

It seems that we have now forgotten the unsung heroes of our motherland as it was directed to keep celebrations of Kargil victory, a low profile event in subsequent years. Also you will very rarely find the mention of this day in the news.