I have an observation to make about the way most of us do things in India. We are quick to jump onto any band wagon and seldom monitor progress effectively to make course corrections as necessary. This extends to personal behaviours too. If we eat, we eat as if there is no tomorrow and if we spend, we spend lavishly, without a care for what might happen in the future. Sometimes we go the other way and deny ourselves even the basics, in the name of “economizing.” We seem to shuttle between the “feast” or the “fast” extremes, if you get what I mean.

This is reflected sadly too in this article I read recently in the Economic Times. It is full of facts but the summary is that a fifth to a third of the million engineers that graduate from Indian colleges will find it difficult to secure employment in the near future.

We are heading for what can be describes as fairly turbulent times. I find the annual GDP growth rate was the slowest in a decade. This article in the Wall Street Journal says, “Gross domestic product rose 5.0% in the fiscal year ended March 31, after a 6.2% increase in 2012 and annual rates of over 9% for a row of years before the global financial crisis of 2008.”

I see today that the Indian Rupee has gone up to nearly Rs 60 to the US $ as against some Rs 45 only two years ago.

The key to the unemployment issue to my mind is the mushrooming of engineering colleges, many of them with questionable standards of faculty and infrastructure, in many parts of India. The future looked extremely rosy with the IT and outsourcing boom, and every man and his uncle ( who could afford to do so) set up an engineering college. Things were fine as long as the economy did well.  The IT industry seemed to have an almost insatiable appetite for engineers. Chasing this dream, many young men and women were cajoled by their parents to leave aside whatever they were truly interested in and take up subjects which could help them get employment in this fast growing industry.

No one stopped to think that the boom couldn’t go on for ever. No one stopped to think that it made no sense whatsoever to start more engineering colleges without a care for the future prospects of the graduating students.

From all accounts, we see today that trouble is around the corner if not already at the door. Many have accepted employment doing jobs that can be done by people with far less qualifications. It is sad to think of graduate engineers ( of however debatable quality) taking to crime as has been reported in many cases. This is a terrible trend with some “new world” scams taking place based on plans hatched by intrinsically smart but poorly employed/unemployed engineers.

I hope the situation will change for the better. Till then as so graphically described in the Economic Times article, we must agree with Manish Sabharwal, Chairman of Teamlease Services when he said, ‘”The world of work is evolving… employers increasingly don’t care what you know, they focus on what you can do with that knowledge.” While dozens of new institutes have been established in the past six or eight years, he claims that over a third of them are empty and perhaps they are “worth more dead (for the real estate they sit on) than alive.”