Thursday, June 25, 2015

Killing the Golden Goose..

Overdoing something is such a common human tendency that Aesop was compelled to write a fable about it..

However, when it comes to India, Indians and Indian politicians in particular, there is an affinity of a special kind..

The immediate incident that comes to mind is the news report recently that Engineering college seats in Maharashtra are only 2/3rds occupied.. Out of about 157,000 seats in 365 engineering colleges, only 107,000 seats will likely be used up this year..

Read that again.. 365 engineering colleges.. in Maharashtra alone..

Over a 20 year period, this number has gone up 3 fold, with the number of seats increasing 4-fold.. Also, there's really no substantial increase in the number of government colleges, it's only fair to assume that this increase is solely fueled by private institutes mushrooming up in every nook and cranny of the state.. Every single money bag, either a politician or with political connections, worth his / her salt has an educational institute - mostly engineering and medical colleges - instituted in the name of their father, their son and the holy spirit. The resultant supply overshoots demand - remember population growth rate and economic growth rate have not kept pace with the increase - and we have ghost classes

A normal economist would call this a classic demand supply mismatch and would probably wait for the supply curve to correct itself to meet the demand or whatever.. But when there's an Indian money bag involved, rational economics can go for a toss. A lot of these "institutes" are likely the avenue for churning funny money into legal tender.. So, the promoter, really doesn't see the need to wind up - since the actual need for this college is being met anyway.. All you are left with, is engineering students, brought up on a rote learning system, with the sole objective to pass 4 years of undergraduate school, get placed in a "Cogni" type body shop, 2 years to return a positive ROI on the engineering fees and then an MBA - Rinse, Repeat.. see above.

It's not just Engineering colleges.. it's everywhere.. Kindergarten / Day Care.. MBA / Medical schools.. Tuition classes.. from KG to PG..

All to make a quick buck.. and everyone happy... Unfortunately, unlike the famous Warren Buffett quote, there's really no sign of the tide going out anytime soon.. 

This is not a post with a solution in mind.. It's probably a good idea to have an engineering body to certify the engineering skills of individuals - kinda like the Chartered Accountancy thing - for the engineering degree to mean something. But not knowing enough about who and what can certify engineers, it's not right for me to comment.Plus, what all can you regulate?

It's just something that's bothering me, that's all..

My old English teacher once told me that Fools rush in, where the angels are fearing to tread, but would you rather be a rich fool or a middle class angel?? 
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