I was recently reading an interview of Mr. Narayana Murty on Rediff and decided to write this post. Mr. Murthy, in his interview touches upon few key aspects of today’s living – Education (Why half of India’s Engineering Graduates are not getting employed) and Politics. In one line, I 100% agree to what Mr. Murty is saying about Politics and Government – That the Government should concentrate on providing basic education, primary healthcare and create a conducive environment for living and the remaining would fall in place as and when required.
The aspects I would want to touch upon a bit more in-detail is about education and HealthCare with my experiences and exposure.
I will not go deep into the primary education sector, but touch upon what the readers of this blogpost have been through. To begin with, let us look at our syllabus. Even though we are one country, every state has its own course structure and mode of delivery. Why? Is this not creating a disparity in the intellectual learning of individuals?
I graduated in 1998 in Economics and Computer Applications. At that time, Andhra University was offering this course and I was in the second batch. I was very clear that I am going to be in the IT field and hence choose this course. Most (well, almost everyone) of my school classmates took up either engineering or medicine. Hardly one or two of my classmates are currently doing what they specialized in their Engineering. A person who has specialized in Civil Engineering, is now a Java Programmer and if I continue my examples, I have many more. Why? Is it because working with computers is more lucrative or provides opportunities to work/live/travel abroad? Well, I would need to narrow down to this reason if I look at the bigger picture.
What I am saying here is not that it is wrong or one cannot do that, but what I am only trying to say is that the Investment of time, money, resources is going waste for learning what we are not going to use in our career.
Our education approach has always been to just study and get good grades. One gets 90%, then the person is very intelligent and elite, but the student is not taught on how to implement what they are studying, rather they are just told how to implement. We have a proven algorithm and we use that to solve problems. Is this correct? What we need to learn is to understand and articulate problems. If the student questions or proposes a new way of solving a problem, he/she is the most discouraged – “Do what is said, do’t try to act smart” is what is the usual reply.
As part of my job, I take campus interviews for recruiting members to our teams. Many a times, when I ask a question out of the text book, I do not get an answer, instead I get to hear that it is not part of they syllabus or it is not discussed in class or they are not aware of it. I interview Engineers from Tire B/C Engineering colleges and many(not all the time) a times I get to hear only this answer. Why? This is because, the student is not provided an opportunity to go out of their way and research on understanding the concepts. Engineering colleges are becoming like schools where text books are provided and students are just made to learn and complete their exams. Engineering needs a technical bent of mind and out-of-the-box thinking, which I personally feel is missing in most of the engineering graduates (please do not take me offensive, this is just based on my interaction with people). There are very few (you can count on fingers) students who go out of their way and learn something more than what is actually taught in the class. Let me tell you, these are the killers. They aspire and achieve what they want.
Again, we are one country, but there is a huge disparity in HealthCare infrastructure. Let me quote one of my favorite examples here. Let us consider Uttar Pradesh, one of the biggest states in India and Kerala, one of the smaller states.
Few key statistics:
Population: UP (190 Million) & Kerala (31 Million)
Literacy: UP (57%) & Kerala (91%)
The number of registered primary/secondary and tertiary HealthCare centers in UP is between 900-1200 and the same in Kerala is around 2,500. What a disparity? Do the numbers match at all?
Well, this is what is missing today. Many private HealthCare facilities are being setup across the country, but end of the day, they are either in Tier 1 or Tier 2 cities, where only 30% of India’s population lives.
Close to 50% of Medical graduates, graduating in Indian Medical Colleges, are going out of the country for better infrastructure to learn and practice medicine. Money is not the only reason, but most frequently, we also hear that the infrastructure does not provide opportunity for them to learn and practice. Where are we going wrong?
My above thoughts are mostly generalized. What we need today is out-of-box thinking in providing solutions to the problems.