Articles

CHOOSING CAREER PATHS

“Intoxicated by the novelty and the spiritual wealth of the world that books had revealed to me, I at began to consider books finer, more interesting and asking to me than people were, and was, I think, a little blinded by looking upon the realities of life through the prism of books.  However, life, the wisest and severest of teachers, soon cured me of that delightful blindness”.

- Maxim Gorky

Chapter – I

 

INTRODUCTION

LONG-TERM VISION

The vision for a Developed India is fast becoming an accepted mantra in many parts of our society.  Many companies and institutions have started announcing statements of Vision 2020 or Vision 2015 or Vision 2010 for themselves.  Some of them produce detailed documents.  This means they are prepared to take a long-term set up for themselves broad objectives to realize the Vision.  Such statements and objectives might have been derived after a lot of analysis and then make a jump through informed intuition where they want to be.  Or the process could have been done totally through a normative process that means you decide what you want to be and make a statement and drive the whole system towards it.  Whichever be the process, there is a long-term vision to look forward to and do a lot of detailed work to make things happen.  It may be struggles every week, months or even few years before one can see the first elements of success towards a long-term vision.

The need of a vision for a country has been articulated by Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, who is now the President of our country.  In his acceptance speech as the President of India on 25th July’02, he has emphasised about the importance of India becoming a developed country soon.   When he was delivering the speech, I was in the Central Hall of Parliament.  In my mind came what has been told in the bestseller book “India 2020: a Vision for the New Millennium”. I was fortunate to be associated with Dr. Kalam in wiring this book.  The chapter-12 of book ‘India 2020’ ends with a statement “India is a nation of a billion people.  A nation’s progress depends upon how its people think.  It is thoughts, which are transformed into actions.  India has to think as a nation of a billion people.  Let the young minds blossom – full of thoughts, the thoughts of prosperity”.

I was hearing the Vision 2020 being stated by the new President.  It was warmly and heavily applauded by the Council of Ministers, Members of Parliaments, Chief Ministers, Diplomats, many eminent public figures present there.  Let me quote the portions from the acceptance speech

Quote “Today our country is facing challenges such as cross border terrorism, certain internal conflicts and un-employment.  To face these challenges, there must be a vision to ensure focused action of one billion citizens of this great country with varied capabilities.  What can be that vision?  It can be none other than transforming India into a ‘Developed Nation’.  Can Government alone achieve this Vision?  Now, we need a movement in the country.  This is the time to ignite the minds of the people for this movement.  We will work for it.  We cannot emerge as a developed nation if we do not learn to transact with speed…..This vision of developed nation needs to be achieved with Parliamentary democracy, which is the core of our governance system.  The basic structure of our Constitution has stood the test of time.  I am confident that it will continue to responsive to the demands of changing situations….If youth have to sing the song of India, India should become a developed country which is free from poverty, illiteracy and unemployment  and is buoyant with economic prosperity, national security and internal harmony.

“I will keep the lamp of knowledge burning

to achieve the vision – Developed India” Unquote

After I had finalized this chapter, I heard the Independence Day speech of our Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, 2002.  It was his fifth such speech and that day was the 55 year after our Independence.  I am quoting some extracts from his speech:

Quote:  Our aim is to free India from the curse of poverty and unemployment.  It is to make India a Developed Nation by 2020.  When this country of one billion people works with a common resolve, then no goal is impossible to achieve.  The Tenth-0Plan has set the target of eight percent yearly growth in GDP.

We are taking some important new measures for economic and social development.  These will be announced separately today.

I appeal to you to display the same emotional unity on the issue of National Development as you always do on the issue of National Security.

Come, let us make Development a powerful people’s Movement…..

….This fifty-fifth anniversary of Independence conveys one more message to us.  And that message is that all of us strive to our utmost for the realization of the dream of making India a Developed Nation.

May our goal be the limitless heights of the sky.

May our feet be on the ground.

May our minds be full of unyielding determination.

May our hands be clasped together.

May our resolve be to march together.

If we do this, our victory is certain.  Come, let all of us unitedly affirm this resolve with the victorious salutation of Jai Hind.” Unquote

What a powerful call!

President and Prime Minister making a clarion call in unison!

I was not only fortunate to be associated with the writing of book India 2020 but also with the whole process of engineering the detailed road maps as Technology Vision for India 2020 with twenty five documents brought out by TIFAC (Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council).  These documents or reports were prepared after well researched hard work by 500 persons poring over many documents which are not only related to science and technology but also to those related to performance of businesses, emerging business scenarios and socio-economic aspects of the country in an emerging global context.  The teams also got inputs from about 5000 experts in the country from different walks of life. 

Earlier during the period 1988-94 when I was involved in shaping TIFAC from the basic foundation studying many areas of our economy and assessing their technological needs through technology forecasting and assessment methods, it was a rewarding experience.  But it was also painful experience because in many areas, India, which had excellent potentials in terms of natural and human resources, was lagging behind technologically.  There has been a sort of ‘technological stagnation’ in most sectors of industry, agriculture and services, i.e. the economy as a whole. This meant that India was not having enough economic business and technological strengths to compete in a global market and also face others in our own domestic front.

I still remember vividly a brochure from CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) an apex industry association in the country in 1994.  I was associated during the early part of doing the exercise Technology Vision for India 2020.  There is a statement in the brochure:

Quote “Looking back into cycle of history reveals that China and India accounted for 73% of world manufacturing output in 1750s.  Even in 1830, the share was above 60%.  It was only after the Industrial Revolution in Europe that the share dropped to 8%.  But we believe that if it could be done once, it can be done better once more.  For achieving such a status as an Economic Power, Indian Industry would also have to gear up to make India a technological power.  Indications are that we can. But how?” Unquote

At the time of Independence India’s share in the world trade was about 4% now it is below 1%, where as China has done much better reaching in double digits.  We should also note that we are about 16% of world population.  If our word trade is below 1% of world that means only 5% equivalent of our people are empowered for world competition.  India and Indians have all the potentials.  They should not lie in a dormant pool.  It is possible to realize our fullest potentials.  This is what the Vision 2000 exercise has shown.  It shows a direction and indicates paths.  But action is a must.  We all have to act.  We have to equip ourselves.

ACTIONS TO REALISE THE VISON

GROUND REALITIES

It is this deep seated anguish that we are still only developing technologically and business-wise after 55 years and e still not growing fast enough, which was driving many of us to mount actions to do something for India in terms of active and purposeful demonstrations.  Then came the Home Grown Technologies (HGTs), Sugar Technology Mission (STM), Fly Ash Mission (FAM) and Advanced Composite Mission (ACM), from the side of TIFAC (see TIFAC website: www.tifac.org.in). Also there are other institutional mechanisms which were steadily strengthened such as PATSER (Programme Aimed at Technological Self-Reliance ) and new mechanisms created such as Technology development Board (TDB), National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) was given a new orientation.

I have visited a number of places in India specially for the Vision 2020 follow up.  These include the villages of Bihar, Uttaranchal, Orissa, Punjab, Tamilnadu, Sikkim and many other places.  I have visited many towns and cities as well.  The past decade of interacting with many of the persons in villages and from the small and medium enterprises continuously point out one glaring fact: The lack of technological strength is not only affecting economic parameters and the performances of big and small companies, but is more seriously affecting our people and their lives.  Many SMEs lay down staff.  They may not enter into the official books as retrenched people but many are without jobs because the company is not profitable or it is facing serious problems.  Many in the villages do not have tools for improving their traditional goods to meet the demands of changing markets.  The marginal farmers suffer much more because they do not have any knowledge of the specific seeds to be used for the soil and other integrated systemic practices.  How to match the seed, how to match the products for the markets, etc.  The list goes on increasing but the pain remains. 

In a number of places where I have gone to colleges or schools I am asked to deliver talk to “enlighten” the youth.  I have met a number of young people who are either in the Senior Secondary (10+) stages or those who have just entered the professional colleges aspiring to do something good in their life.  I do talk about Developed India concept.  I explain about the good demonstration experience of the follow up actions being done by TIFAC, Deptt. of Science and Technology (DST) and also by a number of industries. Another one glaring fact remains: these efforts, however laudable and big sized, they still are small items compared to the overall problem of the country.  Of course, I am aware that all good things in nature have to begin in smaller sizes and have to multiply to much bigger sizes over a period.  There are also very fast multiplying effects from TIFAC efforts too.  How to do such demonstration projects and how to increase multiplier effects, how to shape policies, etc?  Based on intensive experiences of TIFAC work and extensive studies and research, I wrote a book putting together many of my ideas and also researched experiences of other countries in a book entitled “Empowering Indians: with business economic and technology strengths for the 21st century” released on Technology Day, May 11, 2001 brought out by M/s Har-Anand Publications.  It has also subsequently had a revised reprint.  I am fortunate to have a foreword to it by Dr. AP.J. Abdul Kalam wherein he mentioned

Quote “When the child is empowered by the parents, at various phases of growth, the child transforms into a responsible citizen.  When the teacher is empowered with knowledge and experience, good young human beings with value systems take a shape.  When the leader of any institution empowers his or her people, leaders are born who can change the nation in multiple areas” Unquote. 

Dr. Kalam considers these concepts so important that I am happy to see that he has reiterated about these in his Acceptance Speech as well on 25.7.2002.

When I meet many of the young children or youth in these schools and colleges I can see behind their smiles, a great worry – what job will I get?  Can I recoup the money spent by my parents and also earn more for our better future.  These are persons from middle-class (lower-middle-class) origin.  What about those who are at much lower levels?  How much greater is their worry?  I have seen some of it in the faces of grown up children in Bihar, Uttaranchal, etc.

Therefore, one thing I have realised over the past several years while promoting the technology development and through such development the economic growth is that taking care of our human resources at individual levels and empowering them in advance for emerging technologies and therefore for acquiring various forms of business and skills is the crucial mission for India.  My ideas on this crucial aspect could be sharpened further in a talk given by me for the International Labour Organisation.  A chapter based on the same appears in “Empowering Indians” as Chapter-XI “Technology Dynamism and Employment – An Indian Perspective”.  In that chapter I have there described six categories of persons about whom we have to worry about in terms of employment. 

Quote “We need to look at the entire issues as a continuum of human skills.  We may categories six categories as a spectrum; (a) labour that is declared surplus and sought voluntary retirement schemes, (b) labour that is retrenched, (c) the estimated 4 million-odd labour which is considered as redundant as per various studies (they have the Democles sword on their heads), (d) those who will be affected in the near future because of the technological changes that are likely   to take place in India through various pressures (unfortunately many in India do not look at this category because they are busy with yesterday’s problems), (e) those who are young and still unemployed or underemployed (they are going to keep exerting pressures on the labour market) and finally, (f) those young boys and girls who continue to be born in the country and lack opportunities to prepare themselves to enter into an employment.  The size of the last two is very large and if we add the last three, then their size will run to a few tens of millions – much  larger than what the National Renewal Fund (NRF) is currently trying to cover.

We should attempt to cover all these categories very soon.  It is a process of continual human skill generation.  In a country like ours trying to compress human developmental history into a few decades at a time when technologies are very rapidly changing around the world, such a safety net for our people is a must.  It is a public duty and a collective duty” unquote

Again when I was reviewing the policies of various countries in the context of our common Science & Technology (S&T) policies in the era of liberalization, I note that all the developed countries are giving highest priority to employment of their own people and creating opportunities to empower them to get well paying jobs.  This does not mean creation of jobs in government or assured life long jobs. Since technologies are changing, therefore, businesses change and their market shares change. Every company has to be ready to change itself continuously.  It means some of the persons employed in the company may lose jobs.  But they should get new one somewhere else.  Towards this, systems have to be created partly with public funds but primarily in a market driven manner.  I have addressed the basic approach for this in the Chapter XI of Empowering Indians.

WHAT ABOUT ME?

While the above is told in a broad terms, it looks fairly good conceptually.  But question always remains in the mind of an individual boy or a girl or his or her parents: “What I have to do in life?  How to choose a career?  People tell me: read more, work hard.  More I read and go up, there are more expenditure for parents and more hurdles to get admissions.  More work.  I am not worried about these challenges.  But what in the end?  Can I get a job? I have seen people running for IT.  Now I find that a bubble is burst.  I have seen people who have gone for engineering or even medicine have saturated when they are in 30s and 40s.  They tell me: don’t get stuck like me! Some others say: My child does not get an expected salary for MBA!”  These are, of course, middle class and upper middle-class considerations.  Lower level jobs are much more harder.  Employment exchanges are more a part of formalities than of real help. 

I know many ordinary simple or poor people who approached me or my wife to get a job for their son or daughter who has passed 10 or 10+2.  I find many of them want a job as a peon or something else in a Government department or agency.  We have to keep explaining to them that no longer these are feasible and even if some opportunity comes it may be in a contract mode through a contractor but only for a short while and they may not be able to sustain more than three or four months.  But somehow people want to push themselves into something in the Government in the hope that they can stick somehow and reach the destination!  But the journey is too long for many of them.  It will be 40 years or even more.  How to keep a reasonable job for 40 years is a question for the youth.  The past lazy habits of Govt. organisations act in some ways as a distraction or a utopia to reach:  Get a secure job; work to the extent you can; get salary; and may be some extra income through “overtime” or “other unspeakable methods”!  This is in spite of the fact only less than 10% of employed Indians are with Govt. or Govt. agencies!  We all have to teach everybody to forget this idyllic situation and prepare our youth and others to face the real modern life, which has many, rough and tumbles (and also very good rewards for good and hard work!)

Simultaneously, I also see people who are very unhappy with the job which they are carrying on now, because many industries have saturated or stagnated and many Govt. departments do not have further promotional opportunities for its personnel because of downsizing of Govt. etc.  These persons themselves have another 15-20 years to go in life.  Their question: What do we do?  I have tried to advise such persons on many occasions.  These have also given me certain clear insights about the actual problems. 

I have come to a conclusion that I have to share my ideas with people: parents, youth, persons in middle career as well as those who try to help all of them through advice, courses etc.  My son Vikram and his young friends encouraged me.  Therefore, I chose to write this book “Choosing Career paths: In a fast changing world”.  This book, I consider as a natural sequel of the books starting from “India 2020” which gives the broad vision for the whole country and also tells broadly how each group can work to realize the vision, again on a broad macro level.  The “Empowering Indians” gives some more details but most of what is discussed in that book is about how to structure policies; how the industries can transform themselves; how human resource managers, whether it is in Government or Industry have to address the issues and how technology mangers or business managers have to plan for their organisations.  This is meant more to open their minds into newer paths. 

This book is much more at a micro level in terms of addressing people at different categories.  What should I do? What should my child do?  This book attempts to address these aspects.  It is very clear without much analysis that there cannot be one solution for whole of India for all the youth or for all persons in other age groups.  Many million youth are there in any given age bracket.  For example between 14 to 15 there will be about 15 million young boys and girls.  If we take youth as a whole starting from the age of 13 or so to 23 (an age group in which they have to worry about jobs or preparing themselves for job), the number goes to around 150 million.  Of this only a few million boys and girls are fortunate enough to have any job of their choice or make the career the way they wanted to be because their parents are rich or have other resources or contacts etc.  In some cases they are able to say well I want to become a business person, I want to do MBA in the best institute of the world and set up a business of my own or I want to become the best artist or a best doctor in such and such discipline of cardiology or neurology etc.  â€œMany others may not have that opportunity.  They have to keep multiple options.  They might have to play many games of “what if”:  I will try for medical, if I do not get what do I do?  Even then some can afford only when they get in Govt. medical colleges where fees are low?  If not even whey they are chosen in other colleges, they cannot.  I will try for IIT, if I do not get what do I do?  I will try in engineering, if I do not get what do I do? 

Then comes the whole set of youth who cannot afford to study more than 10 or 10+2,.  For any other formal education, they may have to manage in their life through some part time courses or diplomas.  I am aware that such categories of people may find it difficult even to read and understand this book, even if it is given free to them or they access it through a library.  Because often many of them would not have been equipped with the felicity of English language.  I hope that this book will get translated into many Indian languages.  Despite this fact I am also addressing the issues specifically meant for such persons whose number is large in the hope that many individual philanthropists or NGOs or guides or teachers who have concern for such people will try to explain them multiple options instead of merely repeating to them  â€œRead more, read more, work hard you will come up in life”.

Then, of course, there is another set of youth who, at the most may be able to complete education to their primary or secondary levels.  Again, there are options possible  for such  persons as well.  But it is difficult to orient many of them because the irony of the situation is as Prof. Ashish Bose, the famous demographer and inteelectual tells about the employment statistics in the demographic context. The hard facts of life are that poor cannot afford not to work even for a day; they may therefore, be categorized as self-employed.  But that employment is on subsistence level or often times at sub-human levels.  My aim would be to try to give orientation even for those levels to be able to pick up a few more options even when there are eking out an existence through odd jobs.  Again, they themselves may not be able to do it.  I strongly depend on philanthropists, NGOs and many others who want to do something at the grass root level to pick up some of these ideas and carefully shape them to apply to real life situations in specific contexts.

HOW CAN THIS BOOK HELP?

On the whole, the book is not meant to be a replacement of career guidance manual or journal.  These give information about where and when you have to apply for a job or a new course or how do you respond to questions or to interview etc.  This book is meant to give a deep insight at micro levels for young boys and girls from different socio-economic backgrounds as well as for people who are in the middle of their career.  It will very clearly illustrate instances with a few real examples but with changed names of individuals.  These illustrations will give a good idea as to how career choices are possible.  If these multiple options are taken together as important at various levels then one can think about life more realistically.  By realism I mean here not the state of not-being optimistic or being pessimistic.  It is only to emphasise that one should not just stick to only one goal and suddenly face dilemmas when other options available are closed out and our own goal is not in reach.  Then one will be “lost”!  We should be clear that opportunities are so small and probabilities are very small for most “top” positions like IIT, medical, etc. for upper strata of seekers or just some better known Govt. positions for the “lower” strata of seekers. 

While saying the above I am not at all suggesting that you should not try for the most difficult ones not at all and try what appears as impossible.  You should try for the best but keep other options open actively.  Hence, I would appeal to the young to try for the most difficult goals but they should also be practical on one side to keep some other option open and active to be utilised in case they are not able to reach the difficult goals.  You are all aware of the hurdles in reaching goals: they can be anywhere between the limited number of seats to age restrictions to non-affordability because parents cannot always fund everything what we want, etc  (Govt. colleges are lower in costs than in other better private colleges).  Similarly, for those who are in the middle of their careers, one does not have to give up hope and then say everything is alright.  That is not realism, I mean there.  This book is not meant to encourage ‘chalta hai’ attitude.  It is to the contrary.  It is aimed at keeping up with the fast changing world, not being lost, not merely to survive, but to flourish. 

Based upon a large amount of actual experience in life and also based on reading and analysing large number of books and journals in various fields on social sciences, physical sciences and engineering and technology, as well as by learning from the experiences of others, I firmly believe that those who can think ahead of others and work on several options well before the events and also take actions at a early point of time based on such detailed thinking are usually the “lucky” ones because the success is with them.  God is always with them.  It is with this firm belief this book is written.  I would be most happy if the users of the book – the parents, the teachers, the guides, the students those who are in the mid career and those who are consultants to give career guidance, etc. use the ideas and the approach contained in the book in their own specific contexts, and create a situation where every Indian has an opportunity to shape himself or herself for a better employment, for better earning and therefore, having better prosperity and more better feeling of security.  It is also possible that based on the ideas contained in this book a large number of counseling centers could come up; then such centers can give much more practical and customised advice for people either on payment basis or on a good will basis.  I would like to see such centres also emerging all across the country because it is impossible to give detailed specific advices which are required and which every citizen of our country deserves, through a book, set of books, or a website at one aggregate level (however detailed and practical the approach may be).

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK

The book comprises chapters as briefly described here.  It may not be necessary to go through each chapter in a serial mode.  It is better that all readers of the book go through fully chapter-I, which is Introduction and also read carefully a few other chapters, namely, chapters 2, 3 and 4.  After that, since the general approach and basic principles will be clear through these four chapters, the reader can go to the chapter in which they have most immediate concern and read others later on.  As persons read the book and apply to actual situations, the more they will obtain insights into the process of emerging careers. 

Chapter-2 describes the fast changing technological and business scenarios in the world and the forces of change that are affecting the India’s socio-economic scenario particularly in terms of employments and skills.  The emphasis is more to describe qualitatively with some examples, the changing requirements of markets for jobs rather than statistics or numbers.  The focus is on how to prepare oneself.  The chapter also describes the fast changing attitudes towards labour security, pension funds etc. in developed countries because such compulsions or fashions in governance may also come to India very soon because the Governments (Central and State) will have increasingly less money to spread especially people tend to live longer.  This chapter is therefore entitled FORCES OF CHANGE.

Chapter 3 describes the Indian educational system, formal and informal.  This is an important chapter because it gives at one place the channels available for young persons (and even for those in middle age groups) as to the educational skills with which they can equip themselves.  Certain amounts of statistics are also given in terms of outputs at various stages of educational qualifications.  In addition some information is given as to which channels are generally “closed” or difficult despite the general euphoria about them; also the role-played by coaching classes etc.

Chapter 4 discusses the categories of persons who get into the job markets, not just the freshers from schools and colleges but also those who enter after a few or several years of experience.  The categories specify not merely the educational levels but also the socio-economic levels; for examples, the products of some “prestigious” public schools of Delhi or Mumbai have certain “inherent” advantages over a person educated in villages and towns of many states of India.  Few policy makers will talk about it openly.  But these are facts of life.  But it does not mean that who study in a village school is ever condemned to ordinary jobs.  But at an individual level, it is very-very difficult for them to aim to be a best surgeon say with an education from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.  What is clear is that the social status of the students (and their parents), the geographic location of their schools/ colleges “brand names” of certain “school/colleges” all these do count in final career trajectories, not mere hard work and “intelligence” of the young boy or girl.  This statement is true in general; but some exceptions can be there.  I encourage persons to aim to be an exception but also keep in mind the general rule to work out “back up” options.  The categories given here are on an impressionistic basis.  There may be some who will fit in more than one category.  The chapter 4 is therefore entitled CATEGORIES OF PERSONS SEEKING JOBS.

The subsequent chapters address the problems, prospects and possibilities for the individual categories with illustrations and suggestions for applying to actual specific or personal situations.

Atharvaveda Hymn LXVII

May we acquire knowledge for hundred years. (4962)

May we go on prospering and progressing for hundred years. (4963)

May we remain strong and sturdy for hundred years. (4965)

May we retain our prestige and influence for hundred years. (4966)

May we retain all these powers of sight etc., for greater number of years than hundred. (4967) 

ORF Workshop

ORF Workshop –“S&T CHALLENGES for INDIA” on 7th May 2005

 

TS 1.1 : Global Business, Technology and Knowledge Sharing by Y.S.Rajan

There is a book by this title based on the researches by Prof.N.S.Siddharthan and the author of this article. The book traces the nature of the changing world business, the role of efficiency- seeking investments, and the emerging trends in trade of technology intensive products. The conclusions are that technology development and upgradation no longer follow the simple linear models being prevalent before (namely idea, invention, applied research, initial commercial launch etc).

Since multiple technologies confluence to make a product and also because the knowledge of the market and need of consumers are crucial to deliver the right (competitive) products and services, knowledge and technology sharing are crucial to succeed in global business. This is true for big businesses, small and medium enterprises as well as for research institutions.

The book also describes a process called Technology Intermediation, which can help accelerate the process of knowledge and technology sharing. It is shown with examples that such a process is required both for the developed and developing economies.

Based on some of the findings of the book, this article draws upon the Indian developments in technology and business. Strengths and weakness are pointed out. Certain questions are posed regarding the performance and assessment of performance by Indian research and academic institutions as well as by industries and businesses. It is believed that sincere and honest answers to these questions are vital for the future of Indian S&T systems and also for India’s aspiration to have a global standing in business. Usual approach of “more of the same” may cause greater damages than have occurred in the past.

For ease of understanding of key issues Indian technology and business systems may be divided into four categories:

Category I :  Mostly denied technologies and high tech business heavily controlled by Govts as user (or its use).

Ø     e.g. Atomic Energy, Space and parts of defence research. India adopted a single roof and a single empowered group to start the work almost at the time where developments in the world had not made rapid strides. (This is true for Atomic Energy and Space almost fully and for Defence not fully so).

Category II :  A network of huge R&D national laboratories funded by Govt (e.g. CSIR, CMTI, CPRI etc), world class academic institutions (like IIT’s, IISC’s and Central Universities) fully funded by Govt and Industrial in-house R&D labs (supported by Govt through tax concessions). Along with this network major funding Central Govt departments (like DST, DBT, DOD, MNES, Dept of Electronics now MIT) were created to fund R&D projects in a wide areas of basic and applied research and development.

This category was (is) expected to generate all round S&T based industries and businesses. These collective (?) actions were expected to make a technological –industrial revolution in India, missed during the colonial period. Also it was expected that the basic researches done under such a wide umbrella of actions, would lead to excellence in basic research (and fulfill dreams of global accolades for India Science).

Category III : Indian big businesses and medium enterprises (both in Public Sector and Private Sector) were encouraged to start major production activities in almost all sectors textiles, cement, steel, electrical equipment, electronics communication and pharma, with foreign collaboration and / or with licensing arrangements. Technology transfer was also encouraged.

It was expected that the process so initiated along with Category II and to a certain extent Category I (which was viewed with awe) would lead to technology- business leadership of India in the world and a total self-sufficiency domestically.

Category IV: A large group of small, tiny and artisanal production system (some in the formal sector as SSI’s and most of the informal sector, received a benign negligence except for various forms of tax concessions for their products. Some products were reserved for SSI, in the hope that such a protection will help them to grow strong economically and help them innovate.

A few policy statements and occasional tiny funding linked this category with category II. It was hoped that innovation will trigger. Prof.Y.K.Alagh was about the only person who gave some attention to it as S&T.

The extent of growth of domestic consumption products and even engineered products like Idli grinders presently flooding Indian markets would need to be studied. They appear to present an inherent innovative capabilities.

On the whole the author (speaker) will raise a few issues and questions regarding each of the categories with specific examples. The author had already written detailed articles / chapters on Dual Use technologies, Global business, trade, technology and foreign policy linkages, WTO and also on S&T policies at the time of liberalization. Some of it appear in his book “ Empowering Indians for the 21st Century with economic, technology and business strengths”. A few extracts from these also be read out.

Some of the crucial issues of economies of modern times (including for India) :

Ø     How to position agriculture, manufacturing and services in the right place of the global value chain (and keep moving)?

What is the role of S&T?

Ø     How to provide customer orientation and shape consumer preferences domestically and globally?

Ø     Since the product, technology, knowledge & business cycles are compressed, multiple uses for the same investments are required. Traditional categorization of dual use, compartmentalized (and often denied) technologies are losing validity.

Ø     Given the above and nothing the trends in science and technologies where confluence and interfaces are the crucial features, can our Innovation System depend in the earlier system of rigid specialization, compartmentalization, departmentalization and isolation between business and S&T?

The speaker will attempt to address these and finally there will be a few conclusions with pointers for the present and future actions. Some of it would be on firm grounds of facts (not just “virtual unrealities” our systems tend to project) and some will be hypotheses and conjectures based on author’s researches with Indian realities and global experiences, studies, experiences and reflection.

 

 

 May 3, 2005

   (Y.S.Rajan)

Dynamics of Higher Tech. Education

 Based on several detailed studies, researches and actual experiences obtained through TIFAC (Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment  Council, see www.tifac.org.in), the author is convinced of the need to change the existing “establishment mindsets” in many areas of our country: science & technology (S&T) institutions, academic sector, industries and  governance systems, various issues and solutions have been extensively dealt with, in the books and articles by the author (where he is author and/or co-author).

The traditional academic planners at the level of governmental or apex agencies in India tend to chase the elusive models of projections for growth and matching other activities with their projections of growth.  These are the vestiges of the thinking of centralized systems of the past which have failed substantially, measured either in terms of spurring economic growth or in terms of providing social equity or in terms of creating high quality large scale production of skilled labour force or knowledge workers.  Even to support the IT boom of the eighties the government funded institutions were not able to meet the demands of the need of rapidly growing IT industry.  It was the “mushrooming” (the derogatory term used by the establishment academics) private sector colleges predominantly in the south and many “non-recognized” private sector industries entering into non-formal sector of education which met the quantitative demand of growing industry. 

 

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Vice Chanceller

Punjab Technical University (PTU) ; also Scientific Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister

To be presented at the Second TIET Foresight Symposium on Higher Technical Education-Issues of Access and Delivery on 23rd November, 2003. Views expressed are personal.

If India could make its presence globally felt with about 2 million professionals in USA alone and many others doing “off shore jobs” in India, it is because of these totally non-conventional (to the Indian establishment view point) modes of skill and knowledge delivery.  After about one-and-half decades, these are being accepted grudgingly by the establishment though not working out creative and innovative methods of expanding on them.

While mentioning about the IT human resources “revolution” in India, one should not forget the Gulf phenomena of the seventies when our skilled labour force – carpenters, technicians, plumbers, fitters, machinists, stenographers,  etc -  excelled in Gulf Countries and brought considerable foreign exchange to India.  Same was the case with nurses, teachers, accountants etc.

Somehow the governments,  (State and Central)  educational planners or the economists have not  taken note of these unique achievements of Indians.  Somehow considerations of economic growth in concrete terms and employment opportunities for ordinary Indians on a large scale have seldom interested the academia or the elite thinkers or perhaps even the government planners, though clichéd phrases are often used in Government documents.

The author believes, for “cold” intellectual as well as emotional reasons, that empowering each Indian with right skills and knowledge (to enable him/her to add value addition) is crucial for national development.  If people are poor, it is because they have not been empowered with right skills which can provide value addition in the competitive world of market economics (which really exists and existed despite the government controlled licence – permit – quota-raj).

How to approach this “knowledge and skill” management to reach all Indians, is explained in detail in a recent article by the author in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management (Vol.2, No.3, 2003) ISSN 1461-4111 (www.inderscience.com) in a  paper entitled “Towards a knowledge society in India:  Issues for management” The readers (and listeners of my talk on 23 Nov., 2003) are requested to read it carefully.  The article has many references.  They will provide a rich resource material for creative thinking.

In addition to the above the readers (and listeners of the talk) are requested to read the Chapter XI “Technology Dynamism  and Employment – An Indian Perspective” – a chapter in his book “Empowering Indians, with economic, business, and technology strengths for the twenty first century” revised reprint 2002 (insist on this revised print please!) by Har Anand Publications Private Limited.  In that chapter the author has come to a conclusion based on sound arguments that:

“A developed country is one which is able to utilize its core      strength to the best possible extent.  If a country is not able to use      its core strengths or is underutilizing its core strengths it remains     underdeveloped”

 Utilization of core strengths is finally the       utilization of strengths of its people.

In the same book “Empowering Indians” the author has discussed “Integrative Policies for Economy, Security and Technology” in three chapters.  Chapter IV Trade, Technology, Foreign Policy and National Security: Growing Nexus”.  This chapter describes the impact of globalization, the fact that  globalization is a result of rapid growth of S&T and knowledge.  The “globalization” is an inevitable process with “glocalization” as a natural corollary.  This is where the local (i.e Indian) knowledge/skill generating and sharing systems  have a major role to play.  Chapter-V of the same book “Policies for Science and Technology in the Era of Liberalization” describes in detail the “mindset changes” required in our S&T and academic system.

What is required to perform and excel in a globalizing world where competitive market forces and therefore economic efficiency considerations dominate, is knowledge sharing.  Technology as a linear process from idea to commercialization is not so today as it was 100 years ago.  It is made of multiple random walks now.  Confluencing of technologies and multiple technologies in any single product has made it necessary for big or small firm (enterprise) to share technology and knowledge in a way to derive best benefit for various stake holders in the total value creating chain.  Each one has to learn to place himself or herself in the right position in the global chain and enjoy the benefit of the expanded market.  These new compulsions are addressed in great detail in a book by Prof N.S.Siddharthan and the author “Global Business, Technology and Knowledge Sharing Lessons for developing country enterprises” (Macmillan publication 2002).  The role of academia can be best understood from the chapter on Technology Intermediation, which addresses technology forecasting, technology assessment, and how to enable innovative products and processes of a firm to emerge in a market place.  There is a need for considerable amount of knowledge sharing between multiple technologists, and those involved in businesses/enterprises.  In fact all the higher professional   institutions have to instill this knowledge and concepts in students, faculty and others who use continual education systems.  Academics can in addition populate their research reports with actual Indian case studies so that many more can have knowledge sharing possibilities in firms, business houses, governments and academia.  Even foreign enterprises will benefit and also partner with Indian firms as they get better clarity of detailed dynamics, which today is unavailable.  It is therefore a mutual win-win-win….situation.

Lastly the author believes that it is not enough address educational systems only from the view point of the academic or that of enterprises and other users.  India is blessed every year with about 17 million new children.  At any age bracket there is such a number.  They all have a right to be empowered with right productive skills – not just a catch all literacy and numeracy which can only leave them in the lurch in the modern economy.  These issues have been addressed in some detail by the author in the latest book “Choosing Career Paths” by Har Anand Publications (2003)  The thesis in the book is to divide the youth as three layers – upper, middle and lower, in terms of the earnings they can get in the present day competitive world.  It is rather sad that only about 1% of eligible children are able to get into upper layers.  For becoming a developed country it should be about 20%, that is, the opportunities for higher technical and professional education has to be expanded about 20 fold or else in the near future we will be condemning about 99% of population being unfit for modern competitive world.  Even in the middle layer we have only  about  10% now.  We need to increase that too.  This is a social issue and cannot be ducked with a question “Where are jobs?”.  Let us ponder over a question.    â€œCan we make our children to be Markandeyas to stay put at the age of 16 till our economy grows to make a demand on them?”  For the higher education in India, let us not push this issue under the carpet.  We cannot afford to ignore the rights of our children to live prosperously in a world which is going to pay only those who have the right skills.  Education & skill imparting is not a slot machine – it requires gestation periods for a person who enters it to come out with reasonable skills and knowledge base.

So we need to bold in our approach to expand skill and knowledge delivery systems to our people on a massive scale to enable them to be productive in a competitive globalised world.   That will in turn would also spread entrepreneurship thus creating a virtuous cycle of economic acceleration and knowledge-skill base growth.

A few illustrations will be provided during the actual talk.

Delivered at Thapar Institute of Technology, Patiala on 17.11.03. Those who are keen to get illustrations may put the request at the website

Technology-Business-Human Resources

In the past Academia of educational sector, Business Community and Scientific & Technology Groups were acting in separate compartments. There were some sparse links between R & D Groups and academia, but very little between them and Business groups especially in India.

In the developed countries especially in the USA linkages between them have been very strong especially during the second half 20th century. That is why they have become a land of opportunities and a formidable economic power.

Studies about US Economic growth over several decades clearly indicate that over 60% is due to technology; about 15% due to worker skill upgradation; about 15% due to management; about 10% due to capital investment; for investment in land it is minus 10%! Somehow Indian business nicely “ Cartisoned” under the licence – permit – quota-raj thought otherwise. Same with Academia and S & T sector - Get Govt. funds; fix your own standards of assessment and excellence; live happily thereafter in your cocoons or ivory towers. Govt. money comes from tax payers! There are limits to its. So we witness today crises in many fronts.

- When industry seeks technology from indigenous sources they get very little response. Or get offers which does not mean much to them ! Even for practical ideas, industry finds it difficult to have any useful inputs from the National Laboratory or Academia, though some limited improvements are taking place during the last few years.

- Academia acts only as a supplier young bright boys and girls after degrees. Most industries find that they need practical orientation because the whole education system even in the best institutions are theoretical and contain very little of practical issues of business and industry. Often Academics blame industry not interested in academics and look at them only at a source of funding as a grant ( and get tax benefit ! )

 

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Vice Chanceller

Punjab Technical University (PTU) ; also Scientific Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister

To be presented at the Lecture-cum-Dinner Meeting on 29th Dec., 2003 at Ludhiana.  Organized by Ludhiana Management Association. Views expressed are personal.

- S & T Institutions have their own world, with their own bosses who fund them! They often look at Academia as suppliers of some young recruits; or use them in review committees, as a formality. Also grants giving Departments of Central Govt. look at them as people who will send proposals for research and to distribute funds. Often the entire process of knowledge generation have been mechanized system “of the Scientists, by the Scientists and for the Scientists”.

- “Can this situation be in this form? Or go through a slow evolutionary change? Let us not forget dinosaurs !!

The Process of growth of economy, business, trade and science & technology has been so rapid during the twentieth Century ( after the major fillip from the Agricultural Past through the Industrial Revolution starting 18th Century ) that the process of “globalization” and “liberalization of national economies” were the natural outcomes. The author will elaborate on this. The fast changes in technology is so fast that it is impossible to survive in business without a large market. Less and less product cycle and more and more of competitive investment for innovation – How to recover the money ? Go global.

Therefore instead of wailing about WTO or decreasing Govt. funds for academia or S & T, the three major actors have to learn to work together not only to be able to be defensive against global forces (which will into our door steps to win markets ) but also be aggressively forward looking to win in a global market.

India should aim at atleast 16% of share in global trade commensurate with its share of population. One can aim even at 20%. Then poverty will disappear from this land; employment will not be an issue for killing brothers!

The author will develops ideas from the books :

1. “India 2002”: A Vision for the New Millennium (best selling book, paper back also available)

 and most importantly from the three books :

2. “Empowering Indian: with Economic, Business and Technology Strengths for the Twenty First Century” (Revised Reprint 2002) published by M/s.Har-Anand Publications Pvt. Ltd., F-1211, C.R.Park, New Delhi-19.

3. “Global Business, Technology and Knowledge Sharing: Lessons for Developing Country Enterprises”

4. “Choosing Career Paths” (2003), published by M/s.Har-  Aand  Publications Pvt. Ltd.,  F-1211, C.R.Park,  New Delhi-19.

and also his recent paper:

5. Article from International Journal of Information Technology and Management titled “Towards a knowledge society in India: issues for management”

While the first unfolds the vision and the road map the latter describe implementational policies and detailed processes.  The socio-economic context of Punjab Technical University(PTU) will also be discussed and how Punjab Industries/Business can lead the Indian Business Conquest of the World in about a decade.

   

21.11.03

Tailpiece - Point of View

Y.S. Rajan, one of the early pioneers of the Indian space programme, started his career in the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad in 1964. From 1968 to 1988, he held many important Positions in ISRO including Scientific Secretary, ISRO; and Director, Earth Observation Systems. He has also worked at NASA. He had made extensive contributions to India’s first three major space projects- Aryabhatta Satellite, Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) and SLV-3 and other later projects like INSAT, IRS, PSLV. He also led Indian delegations to the United Nations. During 1988-1996, he worked as an Adviser, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India; and first Executive Director, TIFAC (1988-2002). He was Senior Adviser (Technology) of CII (1996-2000). He was also Scientific Secretary to Government of India  and Scientific Adviser to the President of India from March 2000 to October 2002. Presently he is Vice-Chancellor and Chairman, Board of Governors, Punjab Technical University (PTU) as well as Scientific Adviser to the Chief Minister of Punjab, with rank of the Minister of State.

Mr Y S Rajan has authored the book “Choosing Career Paths”. The thought of writing a book arose when working in close association with President A.P.J Abdul Kalam to translate his Vision 2020 for a Developed India into Reality, what struck him was the high rate of unemployment among the youth. With millions more waiting in the wings, he felt it was a situation that needed to be addressed. The book is an attempt to open the eyes of not just job hunters, but also of students and parents, to the reality of the Indian job front.

Through extensive data the author charts out what career options are available, how to apply for a job, appear for an interview and what to do at the workplace. The author believes, for “cold” intellectual as well as emotional reasons, that empowering each Indian with right skills and knowledge (to enable him/her to add value addition) is crucial for national development.  If people are poor, it is because they have not been empowered with the right skills, which can provide value addition in the competitive world of market economics. The quest for choosing a career path should begin at the schooling stage itself. The youth must be made aware of the multiple options available to them and guided in the right direction, as job is as basic a necessity of life. Gone are the days of "conventional" degrees that once fetched jobs! Today, there is a wide variety of "educational choices". Many foreign institutions have stepped in. These offer multiple market-driven courses, of course at a price, which many can ill-afford. There are also multiple choices for career options.

Yet, the job requirements are different for different classes of the youth of different strata of society — high, middle and lower middle. Thus, in this small world, the big challenge is of providing employment opportunities to those who after classes X and XII are forced by economic necessities and family needs to opt for diploma or certificate courses, as they cannot afford to enroll in regular university degree courses. This calls for a joint effort at every conceivable level in society to reorient mind-set as well as to restructure the system or at least make the best use of the existing system in the interests of the youth.

Institutions of learning, schools to universities cannot turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to this emerging scenario. All shall have to develop forward and backward linkages and also drill into the young minds that education is only an "enabling tool" for choosing career paths, not a "guarantee" to employment!

Rajan has also expressed his views strongly on the linkages between technology, business and human resources. In the past, all of these acted in separate, often watertight compartments. The linkages were sparse between R&D groups and academia, but very little between them and business groups. This was most unlike the case in developed countries, especially the USA. Rajan goes on to say that when industry seeks technology from indigenous sources, they get very little response, or else offers that mean little. Even when practical ideas are put forward, industry has a hard time getting useful inputs from organizations such as national laboratories or research organizations.

Academia, says Rajan, acts only as a supplier of bright young boys and girls after degrees are secured. Industries find that they need practical orientation, because the whole education system, even the best of them, can only impart theoretical knowledge and very little experience in the school of life. The situation is now changing in India with organizations like the IITs linking up with industry, but the pace of change is slow and needs a big heave up by the bootstraps.

On the dynamics of higher technical education in the Indian context, Rajan states that the traditional academic planners at the level of government or apex agencies, tend to chase elusive models of projections for growth and then matching other activities to their projections. These are general based on vestiges of thinking on centralized systems of the past, which have either failed substantially or are no longer relevant, measured either in terms of spurring economic growth or in terms of providing social equity. Even in the eighties, to support the IT boom, the government funded institutions that were unable to meet the demands of the rapidly growing IT industry. In the end, it was the “mushrooming” of private sector colleges, which entered into the non-formal sector of education which met the quantitative demand for the IT sector – not always with the requisite quality.

Rajan believes that it is not enough to address the matter of educational systems only from the point of view of academic institutions or that of business enterprises. 17 million new children are born in India every year and as such, at every age bracket, such a number of children exist. All of them have the right to be empowered with the appropriate productive skills – and not just garner literacy and numeracy, which might leave them in the lurch in a modern economy. Says Rajan, in the present day, only about 1% of eligible children are able to get into the upper layers in terms of earnings they can get in the present competitive scenario. The average for developed countries is 20%. Hence India needs to expand the whole system 20 fold or else in the future, we will be condemning 99% of this mass as unfit for the modern competitive world. The social issue, says Rajan, cannot be ducked by asking “where are the jobs?”. We cannot ask our future generations to stay put as literate hibernates till the age of 16 till the economy makes a demand on them. Education and skill needs to be imparted constantly – not possible by any slot-machine technology – because it requires a gestation period and a time frame for a person to come out with reasonable skills and a knowledge base.

 

(Read more about the above at www.putjal.org/technology.html and www.putjal.org/dynamics.html)