The trends and the tensions!

Jack Welch

Nearly 1 million engineering graduates and others  are now being employed in the IT industry in India. This is expected to go up fast, given the projections for the IT potential in the coming years. He says it is the small start-ups, by unknown names and faces in Bangalore that triggers growth! So also says Jack Welch, the legendary GE’s long time boss. In his latest book, “Winning” he says that it is the small start-ups in Shanghai or Bangalore that hold the clue to the future of the world’s wealth!

So, engineering education, trained manpower holds the key to India’s competitive advantage. to use a much hyped phrase! In Karnataka, this year, there are 60,097 CET engineering rank holders and 42,515 medical rank holders waiting (as on date)for the seats that are allotted or shared among the government and private quota,a complex evolutionary process, now almost a high powered religious cum mystical exercise of altruism and plain greed!

There are  26 medical, 37 dental and 115 engineering colleges across Karnataka. What is at stake is the wild dreams and hopes of so many highly motivated youngsters! The government is clearly caught up in a complex web of selfishness of powerful individuals and lobby leaders and also the government’s own commitment to ensure equity, again a complex process of accommodating the various social and caste permutations and combinations. The creamy layer among the BCs and OBcs  as well as other pressure groups had put the Dharam Singh government in a delicate stage of survival and performance!

Any false step,a light tilt this way or that way is likely to cause an erathquake both for the thousands of boys and girls and their parents as well as the large number of politicians in power in a coalition government and those waiting outside! Why with so much demand there go so many seats unfilled? A very difficult question indeed! Last year about 9,200 out of the 44,500 seats went vacant. It is fees, quality and perceptions! More seats, it is feared might go unfilled this year because now non-Karnataka candidates were not allowed to take the government, CET this year. For private colleges this is an injustice. Some quota for outsiders is a must in the Indian context and also for the state that positions itself as the India’s Silicon Valley. Bangalore must be promoted as a cosmopolitan city and therefore we need a fair mix of students from all states of India.

Dental colleges in Karnataka have a peculiar problem. Too many colleges, too many vacant seats,  it is however,the medical seats that face so many peculiarities. Not one of the 2,888 MBBS seats (including the 1,796 seats under the government quota) was available when the 3,501st CET medical rank holder came to the CET cell for seat selection. The last seat under the concessional fee structure was taken by the  1,600th CET medical rank holder, while the final seat structure was selected by the 3,500th rank holder. So, the fee structure has become a highly controversial. The concessional fee for MBBS  last year was Rs.42,000 per annum, higher fee was Rs.1.72 lakhs. For dental seats too the higher fee was Rs.1.17 lakhs.  For engineering seat, higher fee is Rs.52,590 and private management seat Rs.1 lakh! The government vs private seat sharing is always a poltiical issues in Karnataka. At least in the state there is some transparency, some debate, detailed news coverage.

In Tamil Nadu, the professional education controversy is terribly politicised that you can’t often find out who the real culprits are! The political parties  are the fronts for the powerful elements behind the present state of affairs in that state. Even the infamous Kanchi Shankaracharya criminal case is indirectly  traced to have some links in the debates over the Mutt seeking permission to open a medical college and the denial of NOC for the same. With the result, the state which has had a headstart in quality medical education and medicare, had been lagging behind Karnataka and other states in the numnber of medical colleges and the medical seats.

Now, the TN is complaining the Centre is not co-operating with MCI giving nod for a medical college in a rural area. This is of course unconvincing for the Karnataka state is going ahead  with almost one medical college for every district.Let us conclude saying that professional education, engineering or medical, can no more be an exclusive  domain of the government. The government  must facilitate the growth of professional education in keeping with the industry needs, society needs. Also state politicians shouldn’t imagine they are the wise people to decide these things. Politicians often don’t have a long-term vision nor a grasp of how the world is moving. China and the USA are the two powerful triggers for India to stand up and be counted.

India has done well! Without the government doing nothing. I mean in the IT sector growing at this speed! So, may be the very logic of the faster IT industry growth could push the governments to respond to the market dictates. That is welcome. After all what is liberalisation? It is a response to the opening up of the economy,  the growth of markets, globalisation and the coming of the IT revolution. So, at least from now onwards, one hopes our politicians learn to get to grips with the big picture! India can be turned into a superpower in some core areas. Our English speaking engineering and other technical skills is a great asset. So, we have to move  on. India had suffered a lot for a long time. For more than one thousand years of poverty, our long colonial hang-up had all corroded our mental energies. So, we need lot of vigilance, lots of boldness of vision and an activist development goals.

In Karnataka, we can see the trends and the tensions.So, we welcome and support the ground level realities in engineering education expansion. Let us have a positive outlook and let us do things with an optimism. Our support for the Karnataka government is total! Given the present and the future potential for India’s growth!

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times Correspondent has come out with a fat book on India and in particular on Bangalore IT industry’s fantastic growth and reach! He says, after visiting China, Japan and talking with IT leaders that India , Bangalore sets the agenda for the future of the world  wealth creating trends.

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