on 15 September, 2014
Jai Jawaan. Jai Kisaan. Jai Engineer.
“ In India, you become an engineer first and then figure what to do with your life”
Summer is generally at its peak with temperatures soaring at a sultry 40 degrees in many parts of the country but for millions of teenagers in India, the heat from the mighty old Sun is only least bothering. In April 2012, a little over half a million candidates appeared for an exam, contesting for a measly 10000 seats thus making it the most competitive educational examination on planet. In 2012, Harvard accepted 5.9% of applicants. The World’s top Engineering Schools, MIT and Stanford had acceptance rates of 8.9% and 6.63% respectively. These kids in India were fighting an acceptance rate of a meager and an astounding 2%. Now, if you are an Indian reader you stand a good chance of not only guessing the examination under consideration but also having appeared for it. The IIT-JEE or the Joint Entrance Examination is a window for students into what has for long been a jewel in the crown of the Indian education system: The Indian Institute of Technology or the IITs.
After the Govt of India decided to consolidate various Central and State-level engineering entrances into a single exam for the first time in the year 2013, a staggering 1.4 million candidates appeared for the JEE that year; making it the most popular examination in the country and one of the most widely taken exams in the world.
Much like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have achieved an epic status in her literature, Medicine and Engineering have for long enjoyed epic status in the Indian Education system. A litmus test of this could be a simple interview with a random parent on the average Indian street. There is a good chance that the parent would want her child to become a doctor or an engineer.
Charismatic World leader and India’s 1st Prime Minister inaugurated modern India’s 1st Engineering institute in 1951 with a vision to produce ‘World class Scientists and Engineers’. Furthermore, in his now-famous speech of 1960, the leader said:
" It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people... The future belongs to science and to those who make friends with science."
Now, 66 years after India’s Independence and in perhaps the future that Nehru spoke about, where are we placed as a nation adopting science? Engineers outnumber other students of science in the country by an outstanding margin and to be fair is to assume that engineers lead the scientific growth of the country. Much like India herself, her engineers speak a story of great contradiction. India produces more Engineers annually than twice the population of Iceland making it the largest producers of Engineers anywhere in the world. Yet, since her independence, this huge pool of talent has failed to produce a single Nobel Laureate in Science. Israel, a nation as old as India and less populated than even the Indian island city of Mumbai, has produced 6 thus far. Indian Engineers have famously led some of the biggest business houses globally; more recently, the closely followed appointment of Indian born Satya Nadella as the CEO of Microsoft. Yet, as an industry report suggests, 8/10 Engineers back home are simply unemployable.
We at Me Ghanta Engineer believe that the story of Indian Engineers is special and deserves to be told specially. In a first of its kind in the country, we have gone live on Kickstarter, world’s largest crowdsourcing platform to raise funds. For the first time ever, we are attempting to collate this story in the form of a non-fiction narrative. We want to tell this story to the world and you can help us do this.
Please check our campaign here; pledge and help spread the word. You backing could be of landmark significance.
In India, engineering is a way of life; for the world, it is possibly the most interesting educational story.
Jai Jawaan. Jai Kisaan. Jai Enginee.
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