Those who belled the CAT (the entrance test to IIMs) were not merely successful, they also got an entry into an El Dorado of incredibly high pay, exponential career growth and a lifestyle liberated from the spartan orthodoxies of socialism.
And even those who managed to get into B- or C-grade business schools could rest assured that they have made it in life. Old, geriatric tycoons hired 20-something MBAs at gargantuan salaries, installed them at the top of their companies and genuflected before them to seek business wisdom.
In just two decades, the cult of the MBA has started withering. IIMs and other top business schools still have their allure intact, but the majority of MBA schools have lost the sheen.
Excluding graduates from top 20 colleges, only 7% of MBA students from Indian business schools, get a job immediately after the completion of the course, according to an ASSOCHAM report last year.
Lack of quality control and infrastructure, low-paying jobs through campus placement and poor faculty are the major reasons for India’s unfolding B-school disaster, the ASSOCHAM report noted.
If MBA was one pillar of India’s liberalised economy, another was the engineers. The second pillar, too, is crumbling.
A few years ago, a McKinsey report said just a quarter of engineers in India were actually employable. Of late, some other studies put it at less than 20%. Recently, a survey by employability assessment firm Aspiring Minds said 95% of Indian engineers can’t code.
For long, we have had a glut of engineers in India. The problems of low-quality education, outdated curricula and lack of industry linkages have become more pronounced with automation and emerging technology reshaping businesses. An increasing number of businesses are adopting emerging technology that pushes out humans or requires new knowledge.
All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the body that regulates tech education in India, has now made it compulsory for engineering students to complete two internships during their course.
The colleges will have to arrange for these internships. AICTE will also announce an updated curriculum in a few weeks.
The decline of the MBA and the engineer in India — when the economy is expanding — points at our capacity deficit and the rot at the heart of our governance. The challenge becomes daunting when we consider the fact that the majority of Indians today are youth.
The demographic dividend which India so proudly exhibits to the world can turn into demographic disaster if it does not pay heed to skilling the youth and improving the standards of professional and higher education.
The success of India’s information technology (IT) industry is its showpiece but the fact remains that Indian IT companies have mostly thrived on labour arbitrage and not on innovation.
When advancing technology and new regulation challenge it, the IT industry doesn’t know what to do. It reflects at the type of human resource India has produced over decades—professionals who cannot go beyond the routine work.
Unemployability of youth is a gaping hole in the middle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project of ‘Make In India’. If it has to succeed, it needs adequately trained and skilled youth before foreign companies and investment.