How to get placement after your degree and retain jobs: Extracts from Y S Rajan’s book “Choosing Career Paths


The Upper Layers of Opportunities



The earlier three chapters had covered important general principles about future employment patterns, expectations out of employees and the forces of change which would be demanding (and forcing) continual changes. Important clues and suggestions have also been given in terms of practical steps to be taken not only to cope up with changes but to flourish and sustain prosperity at individual and family levels. Main emphasis is to think differently discussed and to have multiple options.

Chapter-Ill has also how our educational systems are presently existing in the formal and informal sectors. How to use these systems to make progress in life, is the important and crucial question for youth and parents. As I had pointed out that it is not correct in practical terms to treat all the youth as one single category. Unfortunate ground realities, as addressed in the earlier chapters, would demand a separate treatment.

I was wondering how to categorise. I did not want to use the word "rich category' because others who are not well to do now, can also reach heights in the current society, though it may be much more difficult for them. Therefore, I chose to borrow the phraseology from space research. In ionosphere, there are many layers from the The Upper Layers of Opportunities 75 height of about 50 kms and more above the earth. Even the atmosphere is considered to be made up of two layers: from ground up to about 10-15 kms is called layer of troposphere; then up to 30 km layer of stratosphere.

The Layers of Opportunities

There is continuity between layers, also there is a porous and changing boundary. The word layer is used here with that connotation. Upper is not top. It is higher than other two or three which I will describe in later chapters. The top depends upon what you want to achieve in life by Maslow's self-actualisation. Here upper layer is the one where there is an opportunity to have exciting work and substantial income, either within the country or abroad. To a large extent this comes about only when the persons equip themselves with professional education: doctors, engineers, technologists, scientists (limited), specialized courses in commerce/business administration/ economics, specialized courses in accounts, etc. Of course, there are other avenues through which people can earn fame and money: sports, music, fashion designing etc. but not everybody who enters gets success. These aspects are discussed as well in this chapter. Since chances of an average high earning are far greater for those who have acquired professional qualifications, and also since such a situation will continue for many more years, let us begin by surveying some overall statistics about these courses and avenues.

Enrolment in Select Professional Courses

Enrolment is a good indicator of availability of opportunities. Therefore, let us see the enrolment in engineering/technology/architecture.   Let us see Table 4.1.


Enrolment in Engineering/Technology/Architecture by Levels and Sex

                                                                                                               All India

Level 1971 1981 1986 1999

Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls

Doctorate 878 45 1995 169 2207 405 NA NA

Post-Graduate 6704 186 10792 567 11229 1271 NA NA Graduate 84025 820 111064 4942 169388 13061 NA NA Total 91607 1051 123851 5678 182824 14787 309426* 54055* Sources: Ministry of Human Resource Development, (i) Education in India, (ii) Selected Educational Statistics.

2. *University Grants Commission.

Since bulk of the entry is at the graduate level one can assume the total equal to approximately the entry degree level. Also, the growth is about 4% per year. With the growth of knowledge intensive industries it is likely that much more girls would also enter into these professions. Parents of girls, please note. Encourage your girls into engineering, etc.

Let us assume that within next 5 years, the number for annual entry that is for each year will be about 6 lakhs for boys and 1.5 lakhs for girls. Let us see the trend in medical fields. Let us see Table 4.2.

TABLE - 4.2 

Enrolment in Medicine * by Levels and Sex



All India Level 1971 1981 1987 1999 Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Doctorate 392 106 338 118 488 234 NA NA Post-Graduate 5517 1872 11930 3129 14844 4344 NA NA Graduate 66296 16764 81197 24712 82259 37805 NA NA Total 72205 18742 93465 27959 97591 42383 167268* 84943* * Medicine includes Allopathy, Homoeopathy, Ayurveda and Unani. Sources:

1. Ministry of Human Resource Development, Education in India.

2b. '"University Grants Commission.

Girls prefer medical field more in comparison to other fields. For the next few years we could assume a faster growth - say 3 lakhs for boys and 1.5-2 lakhs for girls for annual entry into medicines.

For Agriculture and Forestry, Let us see Table 4.3.

TABLE - 4.3 

Enrolment in Agriculture Forestry by Levels and Sex

All India

Level 1971 1981 1987 1999

Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls

Doctorate 896 25 2030 119 1991 232 NA NA

Post-Graduate 3975 106 6773 432 6997 887 NA NA Graduate 20063 46 30140 1085 32750 2243 NA NA Total 24934 177 39843 1636 41738 3362 66153* 15444* Sources: 1. Ministry of Human Resource Development, Education in India. 2b. *University Grants Commission.

With development of greater interest in herbal and natural products, the likelihood of corporate private enterprise in agriculture and related fields will increase, thus the demand for professionals too is likely to go up. One can assume for next few years annual intake of 2.5 lakhs for boys and about 1 lakh for girls. For Enrolment in Veterinary Science, let us see Table 44.

TABLE ~ 4.4 

Enrolment in Veterinary Science by Levels and Sex



All India Level 1971 1981 1987 1999

Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls 6 333 11 Doctorate 129 334 NA NA 1 22 1228 84

Post-Graduate 691 7 1091 NA NA 224 7071 632

Graduate 5019 60 5650 NA NA Total 5839 68 7075 252 8279 19680* 2574* 547

Sources: 1. Ministry of Human Resource Development, Education in India. 2b. "'University Grants Commission.


Again this is likely to be a growth area with growth of animal protection activists, growth in lifestyles having domestic pets and general growth of old people with better incomes which would mean having pets etc. Assume entry of 0.5 lakh for boys and 0.1 lakh for girls. Enrolment in other professional sectors such as business management, journalism, law, library science, music and dance, physical education, oriental studies, social work etc. are given in Table 4.5.

 TABLE - 4.5 

Enrolment in Others* by Levels and Sex All India

Level 1971 1981 1987 1999

Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls

Doctorate 527 64 621 169 1062 420 NA NA

Post-Graduate 8941 1649 18173 4147 18612 4987 NA NA Graduate 86228 6558 190515 35513 212047 35872 NA NA Total 95696 8271 209309 39829 231721 41279 367553* 84943* * Others include Business Management, Journalism, Law, Library Science, Music and Dancing, Physical Education, Oriental Studies, Social Work and Others. Sources: 1. Ministry of Human Resource Development, Education in India. 2b. University Grants Commission.

Enrolment in Education (Teacher's Training)

With the growth of service sectors professions listed others may grow faster and also have good demand and remuneration potential. Many enterprising ones can find jobs abroad as well. Specialised areas of law such as international trade (because of WTO, Intellectual Property Rights, Human Rights) would have better opportunities. The teaching profession may get a special attention in the future. Trained teachers with specialized skills in modern multimedia, internet, etc. may have much greater opportunities in India and abroad. There would also be increased demand for teachers who can address the needs of children with special challenges in learning such as dyslexia. Let us see Table 4.6. 80

Choosing Career Paths

TABLE - 4.6

 Enrolment in Education (Teacher's Training) by Levels and Sex



All India Level 1971 1981 1991 1999 Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Doctorate 112 43 404 194 NA NA NA NA Post-Graduate 2042 1068 3185 3465 NA NA NA NA Graduate 34798 21234 36340 31509 51453 40764 65764 48554 Total 36952 22345 39929 35168 NA NA NA NA Sources: Ministry of Human Resource Development, (i) Education in India, (ii) Selected Educational Statistics. There numbers shown in Table 4.5. & 4.6 for 1999 is likely to be much larger for the coming years as annual intakes.

What These Add Upto?

If we roughly add all these five broad areas of opportunities with optimistic projections then the annual intake number would be approximately (boys and girls clubbed together as I hope for girls to compete more and more to achieve a 50:50 in professional courses as gender ratio!) about 25 lakhs that is, 2.5 million. Compare this number to the all India enrolment in general education for the Senior Secondary level i.e. 11, 12 classes; For 1999 it was 9316,000.

By the next few years for the number of those who are at 11 & 12, by using lesser optimistic standards than we used for professional courses growth, we may arrive at a figure of 15 millions annual. That is those coming out of +12 will be about 7.5 million annually within about a few The Upper Layers of Opportunities 81 years from now. They compete for professional courses of annual intake about 2.5 million (optimistic projection— even within medical, engineering, agriculture about 1.5 million per year). Competition ratio overall seems to be 7.5:2.5 = 3 for professional and 7.5:1.5 = 5. Higher this number is, severe is the competition. Actual numbers may be difficult to estimate. Not all +2's compete because of economic conditions. Also those who have failed to secure in one year attempt in the next year. The number of persons passing +2 may increase more than what is given here. If the optimistic projections for annual entry for professional courses turns out to be less, the competition will be more severe. Also at individual levels, if one is worried about geographic constraints, then the competition is much higher as many parents would not let their girls to go out of their town or at the most to nearby cities, they have to face a situation with low level opportunities. Then the competition ratio may be very severe! I have presented a only rough average picture. Please note all parents who aspire their children to get into upper layers of professions should attempt to use all their influence with their local government representatives, elected representatives, influential and wealthy individuals who have interest in education (even as a business!) and local spiritual or religious leaders (as now-a-days many of them show great deal of interest in higher education), to open more colleges and polytechnics in professional courses indicated above, even novel ones. One school of thought may say that greater the number of these colleges, lesser will be the quality. Some think that more of these would mean, less opportunities for the existing ones and many who pass will be frustrated in jobs. I will address the question of frustration later.

We have heard similar arguments when in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. A large number of private engineering and medical colleges were opened about 2 to 2.5 decades ago. "Mushrooming" was the word used derogatorily to describe then. Any objective analyst would have to accept that these colleges had a great deal to contribute to the IT revolution in India. Students from these colleges were the "knowledge commodities" who were exported for off-shore jobs. Though IIT's have 'high' standards, the output per year of graduates was only 2500 only till recently. Wherefrom then the 1.6 million Indian professionals came to work in USA alone? Therefore, I am of the opinion, that we still have a huge supply of young men and women who can excel in India and abroad. Let us not restrict their opportunities beyond 10+2 levels. More professional degree courses will not hurt the opportunities of existing employed persons (provided they also upgrade themselves in work through acquired knowledge) nor will there be a glut for quite many number of years. Since market forces are under operation, there will be good control mechanisms. Colleges may be encouraged to put on the website, information about the placement patterns of their students. This will also help regulation of supply and demand, though the system is complex because an input to a professional degree college comes out only after 4 years as useful output. Entry is annual but output is after 4 years. But people will learn to judge the events that are likely to unfold. 

Variation Within These Professional Courses

In the earlier sections we have discussed about the opportunities for entry into upper layers of employment: that is through professional colleges.

We have seen the annual numbers (all India) and competition ratio (possible competitors divided by available number of seats). Let us look at internal variations within these gross figures of engineering, technology, medical, etc.

We all know that a person graduating from a poorly equipped, ordinary, not well known engineering college or medical college cannot hope (except for exceptions — we will talk about it also) for a equally upper layer profession as those who study in IITs or top engineering colleges or medical colleges. Therefore, all those who aspire to go up, have to attempt to get into the best well known colleges. There is a need for some luck... lot of hard work too, and the right type of work.

All those parents and students who aspire to "fly high", reach "upper layers" have to make a beginning right from schools but at least form 9th standard onwards. Parents, for heaven's sake do not pressurize children, Motivate them but don't force them. Let them choose between professions. Don't do the cjapa' of IIT, medical or MBA. The statistics shown above would indicate that engineering, technology, medical etc. are the preferred ones and knowing the "average" job markets for upper layers, it is "safe" to aim for science & commerce in the +2 stages. But those who take economics in BA can go for law and MBA. Others can go for law, journalism, media, etc. though competition may be stiff. But if the child is determined, she/he will succeed, provided you don't discourage!

But systematic studies of the subjects and disciplined preparations even for the "silly" (I believe so!) competitive tests are a must. It may be rote which the intelligent ones among the children who can do it in short term preparation, may hate! But you should learn to use the system as you have to get entry in a good place. What to do after entry, is entirely different subject matter. Even if you are one who gets a reasonable degree, after being employed in a reasonable company, can do wonders if you learn how to work, how to contribute to the organisation and how to continually motivate yourselves for success in life. That will be in Chapter-V.

But at school stages, it is prepare, prepare, prepare........ to penetrate through the competitive hurdle race. I assure you that you, as students and parents with sensitive and broad minds, get on to this job, you need not be a mere robot. You can enjoy life; eat your favorite food occasionally; watch a TV show sparingly, enjoy playing with family and friends; participate in a sports you like, a little bit. Fun and hard work need not be totally against each other! Such a fine balancing itself is an important experiential education required for winning in future career(s) — yes you have a long haul; don't forget Chapters-I and II!

I find many parents don't do the homework for possible failures, that is, suppose somebody does not get medical and IIT or a top engineering college ..... what's next? They often run around after the results. There are enough low cost guides available about various courses. There are also some internet sites now. Read them when your child is 9th. Discuss with others. There are some who are knowledgeable. Some who have experience. There are The some who can confuse you. There can be a few, who out of jealousy or unfounded fears of your child possibly competing with their children, may misguide you! Also your child may pick up ideas from their friends. Some parents have complained to me that their children don't talk to them at all on matters of careers; it is not a good sign. Without nagging children and without boring them when their moods are somewhere else, you can calmly discuss with children also and plan for possible alternate options in case your child does not get the main most desired goal.

Such a planning does not mean merely talking and getting your minds clear. But it will also mean of looking for advertisements for the items you have chosen as alternates, obtaining the forms and applying before due dates! Success comes often to the prepared minds!

Careers for Science Research

So far through the five tables we have considered "hard core" economically rewarding professional careers— rather, if correctly stated, they are the career paths in which near and medium terms, the chances of getting a better paid and reasonably satisfying professional work are much better.

What about scientific research as a career? You hear about C.V. Raman, S.Chandrasekhar, Ramanujam, S.N. Bose, Meghnada Saha and others of past Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai, M.G.K. Menon, C.N.R. Rao, M.S. Swaminathan, Raja Ramanna etc.............of the present. While many person who pursue scientific research as a career, can have good income and a fair number of professional opportunities, it is good to understand what 86 Choosing Career Paths scientific research means. Many mix top scientific managerial positions or satellite launch or nuclear blast, as scientific research. Top scientific managerial positions are not many and an excellent science researcher may not be there. There are many excellent world class basic research scientists in India whose names do not get in the usual public domain of the media or in the popular minds shown through TV programmes.

Therefore, most Indians won't know about them except in close professional circles. Often top managers of science and those who do "sexy" or prestigious projects get known outside. Top management positions handled by scientists are very important, in fact there is a case that more scientists/technologists/generally technocrats, get into these positions for achieving developmental goals of India in a better and speedier manner. Big satellites, missiles and nuclear projects are vital. They are more the outcome of applied technological research and development as well as superb project management mechanisms. Names like S. Dhawan (late), A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, V.S. Arunachalam, R. Chidambaram, U.R, Rao and Sam Pitroda are some examples of well known Techno-Managers, or Techno- Leaders.

Now coming back to the question of pure scientific research, let us look at the enrolment in arts, science and commerce.

Let us see Table 4.7.

Post graduation in science is about 1.3 lakhs (1999), in commerce about 0.8 lakhs (1999) and in arts 3 lakhs. At graduation level science enrolment 1.3 million, commerce 1.3 million and arts 3.3 million. A filtering of almost


1/10th enrolments from graduation to post graduation in these disciplines.

Those who have just done graduation in Science, Arts and Commerce cannot hope to have opportunities in the upper layer of highly paying employment unless they acquire additional qualifications enlisted below as: MBA, Specialized Law, Chartered Accountancy, Success in All India Services Examinations like IAS, IPS etc.

If they enter into post graduation, their opportunities to enter the upper layers brighten. Those who further do M.Phil, and Ph.D. have much better opportunities.

In science stream, in particular those who do M.Sc. also, can have opportunities in industries and academic sectors as scientific assistants or lecturers—to raise up later in life. Some of them who do well can have opportunities to go abroad as well.

Those who do Ph.D. can get into teaching line or pursue science as a career. Similarly those who do post graduation in commerce can get well paying jobs in banks, companies etc. Some can pursue academic lines. In the arts, post graduation can fetch better job only in selected areas. Of course most of them will get good jobs as school teachers, though these cannot be considered as upper layers of jobs. Coming back to post graduation in sciences it may be noted that within Government of India institutions, there is an emphasis to support those who want to take up scientific research as a career. A few schemes may be announced. Have a look at these. Some of them may facilitate entry to a good avenue. Also please note that "Knowledge economy" would demand increasing investment in basic research as well (in addition to a great emphasis on engineering and technology as well as  applied research) by a number of countries. Therefore, in addition to the traditional places like USA and Europe one may get avenues in South-East Asian countries and other Asian countries as well.

Concluding Remarks

The more fortunate amongst the youth who complete 10+2 very well and excel in the tough competitive exams in the highly competitive world, would aspire for entry into medical, engineering and management as of now. There is a plenty of scope in coming years as well. In addition, there are going to be excellent openings in agriculture, agro-processing, veterinary sciences and the area listed as others. Post graduation in commerce and science have good scope. Possible approach to career in basic scientific research is also given. In general the important clues to enter into upper layers and the needed preparation from 9+ stages themselves are also given.

Some idea is given about the levels of competition and therefore uncertainties. Therefore the emphasis is on multiple options. The next chapter will deal with how to make a career in the upper layers. It is not enough to get these degrees. While basic higher salaries are assured to succeed in life and to rise higher and higher in the layers of society, it is also necessary to learn how to do well in the actual working careers. This understanding is vital, particularly for those who want to enter the upper layers and equip themselves with the basic qualifications described in this chapter.

The next chapter describes the methods of tackling the career paths in the upper layers after entry into the job.


Upper Layers — Work During Job


As explained in the earlier chapter, for those who are aspiring to enter the upper layers of opportunities, (to earn more, to have greater intellectual challenges, to have power and prestige etc.), it is a long struggle from the school life onwards as described earlier. It is a stiff competition all the way. There are many uncertainties. But by and large, those of you who are able to enter this race, are also the lucky ones, especially in the Indian context, as a large number of boys and girls cannot even aspire to participate in this competition let alone win, as described in the earlier two chapters. We discuss about what to do for them in the latter chapters.

Now congratulations to you, young ones who have come through the hurdle race of academics and are trying to shape a career. You are a B.E., B.Tech., M.E., M.Tech., M.BJB.S. M.D., MBA, LL.B., Ph.D., M.Sc. (in many select sciences), M.A. in professional areas, C.A. etc. Barring a few professional institutions, most students do not get an opportunity to be placed properly. There is little counseling in our colleges and only a few campuses are visited by potential employers. Hopefully with competition (with private sector participation) entering into higher educational sector, placement services may Upper Layers 91 acquire a special place. In private sector and entrepreneurial^ run placement takes place in IT sector, especially because of jobs and contracts in foreign countries.

I expect for that in the coming decade such placement services would enter into other areas as the demand for high quality human resources and "match making" become crucial for Indian Industry and business houses. This will be so only when Indian economic growth rate is accelerated. I am an optimist and I believe it will pick up after several "hiccups" which are taking place now.

 Search for Jobs

Except those who get placement services in the campus, getting a good job is a trauma. It is another struggle. Many persons will say "There is corruption there", "There is need for contacts or recommendations" etc. May be there could be truth in it. I have also known many cases where individuals who have no contacts, who pay no money, get good jobs. I look at only these positive elements and address such cases.

Most important task for job seekers is a good BIODATA or CURRICULUM VITAE. Do this carefully and consult people. Writing too much can be boring. Writing too little will not project you. Please remember that nobody is "dying there" to take you. You have to attract them. You have to market yourselves. Therefore, FORM and CONTENT are both important. Choose fonts which are attractive and use the thicker and thinner fonts to "emphasize".

Give your name, birth date, qualifications, address, contact telephones, e-mails etc. clearly. You can start  with career objective, your core strengths; (both few lines only). Give your qualifications starting with the most recent one and going backwards in time. Use bullet points such as: * Completed a special project on market assessment for cosmetic herbal products during (January, 2001- March, 2001) as a trainee with X company. * Stood third in the class (of 40) in an essay competition titled " ......... ".

As a student you may not have many projects to write but bring out the essence clearly and briefly. While describing the course, briefly mention the major elements of the courses, practicals etc. This will give the potential employer an idea about you. The descriptions such as B.Tech., MBA etc. are too bland. You have to show your fine structure of the important courses taken by you.

If you have done special extra curricular activities, do write them. Avoid spelling mistakes. You may also give references.

Another important point: Don't send a routine covering letter. Before applying to the potential employer either in response to an advertisement (keep looking for all sources of advertisements) or by yourselves, try and make an effort to know about the employer and customize your letter. Dear .......... (by name) or 'Sir' for man or Madam for a woman. Highlight two or three lines to show how you fit in the advertisement or the profile of the company (when you are exploring yourselves).

In general, a good rule of thumb is to put yourselves in the place of the person who receives hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. Slipshod typing or confusing  writing as a response to your letter will irritate you; is it not? Think about this. Make your application special and pleasant (not gaudy!) You could place a nice photograph of yours.

If the advertisement calls for a particular format, use it by all means. Even then your response can be made to look pleasant, if you observe the above principles and try. Make photocopies of the application, write, erase see the best before you make the final response. Don't rush even if your last date is nearby. Another item is to meet the last dates scrupulously. Use e-mail, fax, speed post etc..

Good Luck!

Preparing for Interviews God willing, you get an interview call. How to succeed?

Remember that success often comes to the prepared minds. Work out what could be the possible questions. Check with different people in your age bracket especially those already employed recently, elders and if you are lucky from those persons whose are familiar with the company to which you are applying. Get data and information about the company through internet (easy source) and also about the job you apply for. I have sat in many interview committees. A large number of persons who come for interview are not able to describe the job for which they have applied !!

Then work out some questions of subject knowledge; some possible general knowledge question; some questions probing you: why you think you are most suited person? What are your career ambitions? If you don't get the job how you will feel? Are you ready to travel?

In most of the "probing questions" it is better to be truthful to yourselves and of course positive and pleasant presentation. For example, "Will you change job often? Will you be life long here?" A truthful answer in many cases, would be "Sir/Madam, I do not want to change jobs especially when there are very good challenges, learning experience and good rewards. I am sure I will get these here to work with your prestigious company". Another answer: "As for life long career, I understand that now- a-days employers themselves require flexibility of hiring new professionals. I am ready for a long term association with your company, but whether it is life long we need to decide as I start working......."

You have too many such questions and answers. Please do not use the same language as in this book by learning them by rote!! Employers may also read this book or similar books !! You will get caught as a person not having too much originality. While thoughts can be similar, you should adopt different methods of saying the essence of the message.

Remember, you have already become a big shot by getting a good degree, by competition. You cannot therefore,^afford to reply like a child getting out of 10+2.

Be bold at the interview. Before that itself train yourselves; learn to speak slowly and clearly. Many Indians have the habit of speaking too fast. I was told about this when I went to USA/NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) during 1970, when I was just 26. There was a problem of speaking fast. I have trained a lot later to speak slowly and clearly, whatever be the accent. While you should not be too  aggressive, don't try to be too polite and too humble. You have to project as a confident person. It is good to rehearse even mentally quite sometime before your actual interview. What if this question is asked; how will I reply?—good mental game to play! But remember one thing: do not get stuck by your preparation. Be alert to hear the questions well before you reply.

During the interview, if you are asked about the salary expected, don't hesitate to say what you expect. (You should have worked out to say whatever is best available —realistic). "Anything is okay" is too timid an answer. Don't exhibit any signs that you are desperate to get the job. You may not get it or else you may be poorly paid —you will regret later.

At the Job

So finally you are the lucky one. You got a job. (Well for those who are not so lucky don't lose heart, if you don't. Keep trying; you will get a job. Broaden your net of applications, contacts etc. You will catch a fish. Learn from your mistakes in the earlier interviews. Correct them. If necessary recast your bio-data).

What if you don't get interview calls at all. For those with high professional degrees such chances are still small unless you restrict them by your own types of applications. If you are not getting particular type of job you may have to try changing the types. You should be like a bowler who varies the flight of the ball, its speed, spin etc. In any case do not lose heart. Keep reading your professional books and also some general knowledge books. Such preparations will help in the interview.  Don't be unemployed for too long. Try to do even a part time job. Experience helps in getting better jobs. Good Luck to you.

Now let us go back to the lucky one who has got a reasonably good job. Once in job she/he will be judged by how they perform. The upper layer job is not uniformly in one type of organization.

First your job may be in Central or State Government or some organizations under it. Most of these organizations are governed by hierarchies—the pecking order. You have to learn it and say "Sir", "Madam"—a "good" habit you have picked up in schools or colleges ! Some of these organizations may be good due to some good bosses who get posted. But most of them are not particularly exciting to the newcomers with lots of hopes and idealism. But unfortunately that has become the "mode" of working in India (especially in the older governmental institutions, academic institutions, laboratories etc.) for a few decades now. But don't worry. Continue reading next para.

But my suggestion to the young professional entrant is to have a positive approach. Try to understand your environment well. What are the objectives of the organization? What is the budget. This will give you an approximate idea as to how much resources the institution has. For example some institutions may have an objective, "Develop technologies relevant to the rural areas of the nation". You may think of so many items and you find that the budget is Rs. 15 crores per annum. You can see how many people are there. After salary and administration how much money is available for actual work? That gives you an idea about what can be a realistic aim; in short term. It is good to be realistic about Upper Layers 97 short term targets. You can quietly look for positive people. You will find many middle aged and old persons making many disparaging remarks or jokes about the organization or bosses or about some other things. There will also be a few good ones dedicated to work. You don't pick up quarrels or arguments. But be friendly and social and pick up 'knowledge' and skills from everybody. Try to work hard and learn as much as possible in work. Don't declare all your plans and don't brag about your achievements or join the group which talks ill of the bosses or cuts jokes on them. You may hear but you don't utter those words.

Find out avenues of promotion. You should start working for them. Also keep looking for avenues outside quietly and carefully. Your experience may fetch you a better job in private sector. Or you can decide to become an entrepreneur.

An Expert Model for Professionals to Succeed

I had, a few years ago, come across a paper as to how engineers have to model themselves for success. It is just a page which I had made a photocopy. I don't know the source. I have to thank the unknown (to me) author. What she/he has given applies to many other professional disciplines as well. Hence I am giving a few extracts from that paper.

"The Nine Work Strategies

Talking initiative: accepting responsibility about and beyond your stated job, volunteering for additional activities, and  promoting new ideas, getting direct and Networking: immediate access to co- workers with technical expertise and sharing your own knowledge with those who need it. regulating your own work

Self-Management: commitments, time, performance level, and career growth.

Team work effectiveness: assuming joint responsi- bility for work activities, coordinating efforts, and accomplishing shared goals with co-workers

Leadership: formulating, stating, and building consensus on common goals and working to accomplish them, Followership: helping the leader accomplish the organi- sation's goals and thinking for yourself rather than relying solely on managerial direction

Perspective: seeing your job in its larger context and taking on other viewpoints like those of the customer, manager, and work team. 

Show-and tell: presenting your ideas persuasively in written or oral form.

Organizational Savvy: navigating the competing interests in an organization, be they individual or group, to promote cooperation, address conflicts, and get things done."

You think about these nine work strategies, very carefully. It will apply to even doctors joining in a hospital (big or small) after a M.B.B.S. degree, aspiring to grow into a superspecialised doctor; to a person with MBA degree joining a company for work or colleges for teaching or to a person with CA (Chartered Accountant) qualifications joining a consultancy firm or to a person with post graduate degree in science or commerce or economics aiming to excel in a research career. In fact it will also apply to others (with Diplomas in engineering, fashion designing etc.) who are not so much high in upper layer. If they follow these strategies they can raise high in the middle layers and penetrate upper layers.

Taking Initiative

This is key to success. In school and colleges, often in India, this is not encouraged. The teachers, lecturers and professors are worried about finishing the syllabi and preparing the students for exams and later for competitive tests. They are often judged by how many of their students are getting admissions into MBBS, B.Tech., etc.  after completing in their 10+2 schools or getting good placements in companies after obtaining B.Tech./B.E./ MBA etc. from their colleges.

Real life is no longer exams, marks or grades. A company is judged by the market place—how good is its products, how competitive are its prices and how serious is its post-delivery services. A laboratory is judged by how good its "knowledge base" or "skill base" is. Soon many of the government funded laboratories are going to lose the present day protective cover of government patronage and assured budgets. That means the laboratory has to produce "knowledge/skill products" to its customers in Industry, Agriculture, Business etc.

Already with a large private sector entry into higher education, there is a heavy competition for placements* Only those colleges/institutions which have an excellent placement records (i.e. percentage of students who get placed in campus itself, how much percentage after that almost reaching 100% as well as the types of average salaries and top salaries the students get after passing from the institution). That is why IIM's and IITs are sought after; one is glad to know that many other private sector institutions are also in such "sought after list". These long narrations are only to emphasize that in near future most institutions (even banks, government offices etc.) are going to be judged by performance, by services rendered, and through severe competition. Companies, agencies, institutions, NGO's (non-governmental organizations), or self-employed entrepreneurs, or consultants—whoever take initiative is likely to be successful in competition—much ahead of others.

Therefore those persons who take initiative succeed; they can go higher and higher. On entry into the job you should remember this and put into practice from the DAY ONE!


Then comes networking; it is a crucial skill in order to be contemporary in a fast changing world: of knowledge and skills; of business and market trends; of performance and perceptions; of new entrants and new partnerships; and so on. Those who share technology and knowledge succeed as N.S. Siddharthan and myself have brought out in our book "Global Business, Technology and Knowledge sharing" quoted in an earlier chapter of this book. For sharing, networking is a key capability.

Self Management

If you are taking initiative and start networking without self management given as the third strategy you are likely to mess everything else including yourselves.

It is better to have a few calm moments at the end of day and the beginning of the day to review the work done so for and to jot down the work to be done for the weeks, targets for the month, and detailed actions for the day.

You can do this in an electronic diary or in your computer or even in a note book. Try to keep continuity: look at what you have done over the past few weeks to see the trends. Are you doing too little? Or over greedy and piling up too much back log? While you have to keep a diary and review, don't be obsessed by it. Diary should not drive you! You should drive it!! Yes, in some cases or in some days you may get a new opportunity or a new task 102 Choosing Career Paths assigned by the company management (or hospital etc.) which may require a drastic change of work pattern and the items you had planned. You should know what to drop and what to pursue. In some cases, for items assigned by the management earlier to you, you can consult the Supervisor (the immediate boss) and decide. For items pursued as your own initiative, you have to decide, may be you could consult those affected. For example, you had promised somebody to write a few chapters of a report which is not your regular duty but which will strengthen your network and you will gain experience. In such a case, check with the person whether you can drop out some or change schedule or give in particular part-finished form etc. It is bad practice to quietly drop out and give an excuse later. If you alert him or her before he/she will understand your situation and work out an alternative.

I have described only a few examples in practical life of self-management. There are many such you will have to face daily. Those who organize and manage their own time, tasks and their interfaces with others well, will be crowned with success. You can perform much better and efficiently.

Life is not perfect! There can be an occasional mess up!! Learn from it and make amends. Whenever you try to change your planned schedules, tasks and/or partnerships don't do it by impulse. Don't do it in anger or in a mood of excessive happiness. Weigh pros and cons carefully in mind or write down it in a sheet of paper, the various alternatives, options, pros and cons. At some point, after reasonable analysis (don't get into paralysis by analysis  syndrome, which is a major disease in India!); be decisive and start acting.

Good luck ....... Days come, weeks come and go; years pass by. You can become a good SELF-MANAGER if you are not a victim of practice and routine and plan your work, time, tasks and partnerships as if it is fresh for the day!

Good Luck!

Team Work

That brings us to the team work. All successful projects and organizations have behind them efficient team work. Taking initiative and self management are not activities which are opposite of team work. As I have explained in the first three chapters, there are multiple skills which get into modern knowledge society and its products and services. A person "who plays solo5' is likely to be left out and blown out by changes.

You read in newspapers or in popular media that "so- and-so" is great and has done this or got this award etc. You may often come to a conclusion that those people, by themselves personally have achieved everything. This is the 'wrongest' of the assumption!!

Look at a great musician; how rfiany persons are there to support him or her and perform ancillary duties; even best sports persons or athletes are not formed by themselves. They need a good coach, team manager and often a good team (as in cricket or hockey); even parents form a part of the chain of the team.

While the individual awardees or "great person" have also contributed and have something special, without 104 Choosing Career Paths teams nothing takes place. Please also note that the team members cannot (and should not) have all the same characteristics and features. Remember that any real life task or action to be successful requires diverse skills, knowledge bases and capabilities. Each member of the team supplements and complements another. Therefore, you cannot expect all of them to perform the same or use the same yard stick to judge them. Initially as a "junior" member of the team when you are a new entrant to a company or to a lab or a college or a university or a hospital, you should remember this feature. It is not like your study place—college or school—where everybody reads to the same syllabus, almost similar books, do similar practicals or projects and write same examination. Remember actual life demands diverse skills; diverse tasks.

Therefore, as a member of team, perform as best as you can, your own assigned tasks and start with taking initiatives and networking within the team and outside the team; your self management has to be done, keeping in mind the demands of the team work.

No doubt such team work is not a simple job. Often the best and efficient organizations—as they are built up on team work—allow the new entrant to easily enter the team, as a fish into the water. Thanks to Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan and Brahm Prakash, who had great organizational skills and foresight, gave ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) the ability to work in teams. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, presently our revered and respected Rashtrapatiji was (is) a par excellence team builder. 

One biggest certificate he has given to me, which I will cherish all my life is a reference to me in his famous book Wings of Fire/

7 had the fortune of having Y.S. Rajan from ISRO headquarters as my friend in those times. Rajan was (and is) a universal friend. His friendship embraced with equal warmth turners, fitters, electricians and drivers as well as scientists, engineers, contractors and bureaucrats. Today when the press calls me a `welder of people`, I attribute this to Rajan. His close interaction with different work centers created such a harmony in SLV affairs that the fine threads of individual efforts were woven into a mighty fabric of great strength.

Writing about each of these management techniques exhaustively is not the focus of the book. There are many good books. You can read some of them. But learn through actual experience also. You may have some special features thus analyse them. Don't be ashamed of identifying your strengths. For example, you may have an excellent personality (beautiful looking young lady; or handsome young man). It is a core strength. You may know how to speak well. You will know certain professional skill very well etc. Try to build on them within the available opportunities. Working within the teams and project projecting your core strengths is an important skill you have to learn. That will lead to leadership.


There are a number of academic institutions which have called me recently to address students on the above subject. Students are confused, faculty is more so. Media as usual is after exciting news – most of them unrealistic or dramatic. Also macro data do not help individual situations. If sensex is falling down it does not mean that we are all finished. If there is an outsourcing problem from the USA (either Obama policy or meltdown) it does not mean all Indian IT companies have to close their shops !

However, one thing is sure: it is no longer business as usual. Job markets are not the same, any more at least for a couple of years to come (upto 2010 or 2011). There is no longer 30 – 40% attitution rate, allowing for a great turnover.

This huge turn over created lots of vacancies in most Services sector companies and HR departments of companies were in continuous search for new recruits. That is why, many IT companies were offering appointments to B.Tech students at the 5th Semester itself ! (i.e. 1 & half year before they finish their 4 years course through the companies publicly keep on telling that “quality” of our students is not good – only 15% are employable etc!! the fact of the matter was that they desperately needed youngsters who can operate computers and who can work even 12 hours.) Now the US slow down has affected IT companies who mostly depended on US contracts. Their domestic business was very low; these tasks were mostly left to small Indian companies.

IT hiring slow down affects auto industry as they have less number of persons who take “auto loan”…. Financial sector, which had created a “huge bubble” in USA and in the globe, is in great trouble. All those banks which were praised as the “great wealth generators” are closed or insolvent or waiting for govt. bail out….

Let us leave all these causal factors and look at viable opportunities for those who do B.Tech, B.Pharma, MBA, MCA etc and in the last semester to enter into a job.


  1. Number of companies which will come for campus recruitments may fall down.
  2. Since the number of persons to be recruited has drastically come down, HR department will place new high standards. When supply is more and demand is less, those who purchase tend to be very difficult. This is simple law of economics !! You will experience it when you go to a vegetable market or cloth shop ! Law of demand & supply is same !!
  3. Therefore, the amount of salary you can expect will go down.


  1. Therefore you have to think “out of box”. Life is not just BPO, or IT or Financial sector. Let us look other opportunities.
  2. There are huge number of colleges and Universities of professional colleges, which have huge shortage of teaching staff. For you, it will be at lecturer level or tutor. Salary may be low. But you are in a respectable job. You can use this as an opportunity to learn more and increase your knowledge. You can register for higher studies. M.Tech etc (for MBA, Ph.D). Most colleges will facilitate part-time studies (may be with a bond) as they need higher qualified teachers. Also you, as a younger generation, can bring in new techniques, e-learning, use of computer based new contents etc. That will attract students and also help the College/University. Also you learn. After a couple of years, if you like this career you continue; even go abroad - there are many countries which need young faculty (including in West Asia).
  3. In the financial sector forget the usual investment/stocks etc. Learn banking security. Also how the banks can track terrorists/crime networks. You can’t be expert. But if you show some capability, then you can grow up. In this “terrorism” prone world, lots of auto-terrorism controls, analysis etc. will be required. This could be your career.
  4. Think in terms of local e-governance in villages, panchayats, towns, etc. Indian Govt. may pump up money for this to “support” It companies.
  5. Though “speculative” real-estate sector may suffer, there will be a number of small scale constructions. Also public sector roads, gear up for it. Also huge airports.
  6. There will be a new attention towards agro-processing sectors, as Govt. will try to increase jobs in rural areas.
  7. There will be lots of new openings in anti-terrorism activities: right from telecom tapping, to cyber security to straight forward physical security. Those who have courage can join. This will be new opening in Govt. and private sector. Your chances are going up the ladder are also high as they are new openings.
  8. Rest of it are: health sector, retail……. etc. The usual ones with lower intake. Also media !

Don’t foreclose your options.

Also keep trying abroad.


Don’t duck any good work…..Don’t be too finicky…. Be in a job….Keep looking other opportunities. In this world those who have professional qualifications are required in most places.


Next two years are going to be little tough. But use it as an opportunity to learn new skills, languages, etc. It will make you tough and strong.

Also see the extract from my book “Choosing Career Paths” – how to prepare for a job (in this web).


Y S Rajan


Most developed countries do not have much of black money operating within their countries, especially for normal day-to-day lives or even most of the economic activities. Their systems, therefore, could easily adopt the computers, e-transactions, e-cards even in small hotels, petrol stations, shops etc. Americans carry very little cash. In contrast in India most transactions even big ones are done in cash. It helps in tax evasion. Also to convert black money for a “white” service or product. This is one of the main reason why e-governance is not picking up in India.

Of course, developed countries have their vices. They create “phantom money” – fully legal – through various forms of financial engineering. To a limited extent, it is healthy to cover the imponderable futures – like insurance, wild fluctuations in prices etc. But the financial product games of derivatives, hedge funds etc have grown into big bubbles. Also banks in some select small countries (not just Switzerland but about 50 – odd in number) provide total secrecy in operations. This has helped black money flow from developing countries – democratic, despotic, autocratic etc. Rich and powerful extract black money from the domestic economy and put it the “safe havens”.

Unfortunately the global finance operations and the related financial engineering (from developed countries) have helped the money from secret banks (mostly black now due to huge flow global flow) to enter into other countries as investments. Any honest economist has to admit that quite a bit of foreign flows to India have a large component of black money. India’s growth has benefited from such a flow.

Also there can be no denying that quite a bit of domestic black money also now flows into the Indian economy. Many services sectors, real estate etc. are glaring examples. Others receive too ! In fact, if all these black – economy operations are taken into account, India’s economy will be estimated to be much bigger. Growth perhaps more than 8% which is projected officially.

In spite of these realities, we still take moral high ground against any amnesty system to bring out black money openly. Only one year was given post 1991. (Without a liberal market economy, black money will not come out easily !). That is not enough, as those who have huge money are afraid of bringing out.

This is the time Govt. openly announces a black money investment scheme. In order to also give a social benefit orientation, the scheme can be as under. No questions asked about whereabouts of money or investments and also some tax benefits for investments in rural areas, backward districts etc, if the investments are in the following:

  • Schools, colleges, Universities, educational/skill imparting institutions of any type as fully Indian or in joint venture with other countries.
  • Hospitals, mobile medical facilities etc fully Indian or in JVs.
  • Tourism development related investments in Tier-3, Tier-4 towns, coastal areas, and rural areas (can be hotels, hostels, roads, parks, transport fleet, booking facilities, documentary films, advertisement etc). (This will enhance employment).
  • Similar investments for enhancing design and technical features of artisanal products and local cultural products including marketing infrastructure, advertisement etc.
  • Similarly for those who are investing to help marginal farmers who may do contract farming with big companies.
  • All forms of infrastructure (Road, water, electricity etc) related to any of the above. The rights of investors for these facilities created should be liberal.

The list is illustrative. A few more can be added. If this scheme is announced soon stating that it will be operational at least for five years, then the black money unleashed into the formal Indian economy will be several times more than what Govt. can afford to invest with tax payers money. Our banks will suddenly become cash rich !

It will help India to be stable amidst global down turn and loss of employment will be prevented. Many new domestic employments will be created. Since the black money can flow legally into formal economy, the operations can also use computers, thus opening up the domestic sector to IT operations. Our IT companies who lose US outsourcing jobs can benefit. Huge educational sector also can pave way for IT growth.

It will be VIRTUOUS CYCLE unleashed by the “dark matter” or “dark energy”, which unfortunately got created by the VICIOUS CYCLE of high tax and control raj (1947-1991).

Over a period of a decade or more with faster economic growth and more economic space, hopefully with major administrative reforms) much of the causes of corruption will disappear. (I have elaborated in my book A to Z of Success in the topic CORRUPTION).

Do we have the real moral fibre in us as a nation, to accept that we are ordinary persons as any body else, and allow the dark economic reality of Indian life, to work for people’s benefit ?



Y S Rajan



THREE CRITICAL ISSUES FACING INDIA: TERROR AS ONE, FORETOLD INDIA 2020 (Extract from the talk Change and Change Agents delivered at World Academy of Art and Science: General Assembly 2008, 17-20 October 2008, Hyderabad)



Almost every statement told about India will be partly true. It will be an exercise in listing dialectical opposites or trying to resolve paradoxes.

Blandly put, India is now growing at a rapid rate in its GDP. Though most of its firms and most S&T institutions are yet laggards or followers in global terms, the desire to catch up through follower mode, is increasing.

When the major national exercise for Technology Vision for India 2020 was undertaken by Technology, Information & Forecasting Council (TIFAC) during 1994-1995 and when the exercise resulted in reports during first quarter of 1996, many Indian establishment elites were still skeptical about India’s growth. This was partly because of the earlier decades of very slow planned growth (during which time population however grew nearly four fold !) and also due to the global financial crises during 1995. There was a general gloom or pessimism.

Therefore the projections of Indian GDP and its growth as can be seen from the book by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Y.S. Rajan “India 2020 : A vision for a new millennium” (Ref.8) reflected figures which have been far exceeded now. World GDP also has grown much more speedily then projected.


In many sectors India has performed much better than envisaged in the Vision exercise and therefore in the book. Steel sector has grown in a totally unanticipated manner. The book projected Indian production figures. While growth in domestic production is not as rapid, Indian companies have emerged as global giants by purchasing foreign steel companies.

Indian agricultural growth has been nearly stagnant or very slow. The book had recommended multiple measures. Especially the measures recommended for a large number of marginal farmers (which were also practically demonstrated in fairly large communities of farmers in Bihar, UP, Uttarakhand etc during 1998 – 2003) were not taken up in a sustained manner by the governments and public institutions.

Similarly manufacturing sector including small and medium enterprises were neglected as the establishment elites were more obsessed with IT enabled and financial services as prime movers of wealth generation. As a result while real estate emerged as a major growth area, generation of employment for large number of Indian youth and the income of marginal farmer families took a severe beating.

The current author who used to believe in pushing ahead with projects (big and small) to effect changes, is now much more deeply aware of the issues of evolutionary changes in institutions, especially given the constitutional framework India has inherited for governance. Indian systems have some inherent time-constraints, which the current author had termed as Indian time-rate-of-interaction (Reg.9).

Projections therefore towards 2020 will have certain caveats. The projection of about 8% continual growth for 12 more years can show that utter poverty can be removed. Current push for elementary education through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan may remove illiteracy. Public health system may improve.

The major concern is that the skill levels of most of the economically active population will be fragile given the push of global changes. This means a continuing anxiety of economic insecurity for a large number of Indians. Even now the percentage of those employed in organized sector is going down during the past two decades and it is 6% now.

Another concern to sustain rapid growth would depend on the ability of Indian firms and S&T institutions to create new knowledge capital at the global levels; to own Intellectual Property Rights (IPR’s). It is very low currently. The current author with three other co-authors has elaborated on it in a recent paper submitted to Forum for Global Knowledge Sharing. (Ref.10).

The third major concern is about the governance; due to identity politics and large scale corruption of public institutions and individuals who run them, India has become a very soft state prone to terrorist attacks. The “liberal” elites have paralysed the Govt. institutions thus preventing them from taking actions to pre-empt or eliminate such attacks on people. This has long term implications as the domestic and foreign investors may choose other safer destinations like China etc.

Why is India mentioned in this paper? It is but an example of a large chunk human population. It is about 16% of world population and is likely to be of similar percentage during 2020 as well. Though the population by and large is much less desirous of change (evolutionarily perhaps more conservative!), a push towards speedy changes has begun and is likely to continue to gather momentum. Given the extensive coverage of modern media with about 100 TV channels including foreign ones competing to bombard Indian population with visuals and messages in local languages, the messages of ‘change’ are rapidly spreading. That is the reason one finds various forms of protests and violence.

The right to better living and equality etc, as well as the higher concepts of human evolutionary concepts and group behaviour, are trying to find ways to come into practice. No doubt various forms of ‘tribalisms” domestic and foreign are also at work. We have mentioned about the terrorist networks in India, earlier.

If India can effect the ‘changes’ which are more or less fully demonstrated by the earlier evolution of other human beings in the developed and some advanced developing world, fairly peacefully and without any major disasters, it will be a good example for many others and will also increase humanity’s hope.


(Extract from the talk

Change and Change Agents delivered at

World Academy of Art and Science: General Assembly 2008,

17-20 October 2008, Hyderabad)