Apr-Jun 2016 Issue Science & Technology

The End Of India’s IT Boom-Bust Cycle

India has always been a vast and virtually unlimited resource base, both human and natural, providing for the economic engine of all countries in the world. This is true in both the sense and the spirit of the word. Despite this fact, in India it-self there has been a serious under-utilisation of natural resources, and a criminal waste of human resource. Either it is our inability to tap the resources (claiming technological limitations) or other socio-political compulsions (geo-political considerations) or merely a leadership crisis (from a lack of visionary leaders), that is projected as an excuse for this unpardonable state of affairs. The current education process wastes brilliant minds with many routine and unrelated tasks resulting in only administrative-compliance-oriented, politically-correct individuals who cannot creatively contribute to the very fields of their working and to overall synergy of the system. Yet there are sparks of sheer individual brilliance, surges of powerful intellectualism, but these are not seen on a regular and coordinated basis. Rather, they appear more on a random basis, which in a best case erupts at times of crisis in to the national arena keeping the system running until the next crisis.

Around 1995 India witnessed what were two phenomenon driven by the same process (although they should have been separately driven in their own contexts), privatization & liberalization. The problem of relatively low-level programming and the Y2K paved the way for the first large scale generation of trained professionals to tackle this world wide pandemic. It was then that the US and a few other countries relaxed their regulations, allowed Indians in particular and Asians in general to enter their countries in large numbers. Post that boom India never turned back. The computer decade, as we can call it, rolled on from 1997-2007. The ever widening application of computers in multiple fields required huge trained staff with multi-lingual skills. Indians seized the opportunity and bankrolled lakhs of professionals. This led to relaxation of the norms for setting up of engineering colleges to cater to the high demand in this one field. As a single example, Andhra Pradesh state alone saw more than 650 engineering colleges coming up. In and around the capital city of Hyderabad there sprang more than 200 engineering colleges. Scores of hundreds of acres of agrarian land was converted in to engineering colleges with extreme narrow focus on EEE, ECE, BCA, MCA and IT (to name few); and merely as an add on expansion formula Pharmacy, Nursing and management courses were proposed in later years.

Related: Dark Side Of The IT Boom – How The IT Boom Made Bangalore Unliveable

The run for dollars and the craze for international work experience brushed aside traditional bachelors in science and engineering and arts disciplines to a secondary position, and these fields of studies languished. A situation arose where ‘learning computers is the only panacea for entire problems India faces’ was advocated by NGOs & socio-political groups. A gradual but sure neglect set into the education scenario over 15 years with disastrous consequences since the narrow parochial system encouraged only 5 to 10 computer or IT related courses in India. Indians became largest computer application users. The possibility of research and development in many areas from space to agriculture development over a carefully thought 25 year self reliance policy gradually started to decline. Keyboard users increased in number than key user fields in respective science, technology and economic segments. A new era of qualified Human Resource dependency in all other fields started to dawn in. The applications of computers in many other fields like natural resource development, utilization of such resources for over all regional balanced growth, utilizing the enormous data processing capabilities of computer for handling routine tasks in agriculture, and many such developments never occurred in India.

Meanwhile many western countries which had followed balanced development in education were quickly able to diversify in to most lucrative and creative fields of economic development creating more opportunities in the areas of mining, metallurgy, aerospace, bio-medicine, agricultural technologies, etc. which  utilized the potential of computers and revolutionized the fields into high tech knowledge centers.

The native educational institutions set up in the IT-CA boom now are clueless as to the future courses of development as these courses are no longer providing the hyped up employment. Even recruitment into these colleges is falling to 50% of the actual capacity levels and prospective students with nowhere to go are worried about what is going to be the next in their careers. At the same time the demand in certain fields of engineering and education disciplines went booming based on the investment flows coming in to the native countries. But since our educational institutions are not able to handle them, in many cases, western experts are brought in. In point of fact, in many cases, the western experts are brought with the brazenly stated aim of exploiting the resources using local labor in the form of Exclusive Economic Zones (just like East India Companies set up exclusive trading forts) which are thriving but the rest of the native countryside is languishing in the background.

Related: De Beers’ 450 Year Hunt For The Hidden Treasures Of Indian Kingdoms

At the dawn of the Deng-era in 1975, much of China looked similar to modern-day India. A worker, peasant, student, warrior under the previous Mao-rule could never be failed in education. So persons with absolutely no abilities were given PhDs and were posted in to universities. This accounted for the backwardness of China lasting almost until 1990. When Deng came to power, he cancelled most of the degrees and relegated all MS/PhDs to technical certificates. He introduced an entrance system and a massive education reform in high technology fields for regional balanced development which started giving results after 10 years and beginning 1990 China never looked back. It has today, surpassing India in many aspects, become one of the fastest advancing nations on earth in its own language. Though in India we may not be able to do what the Chinese did, we can still do positive things aiming at such models for progressive nation building. GreatGameindia Team will be working in this regard and as a first step will be setting up knowledge centers for the proper guidance and direction of students, professionals and organizations alike. We invite all our readers to take notice and responsibility and do their part; join us in this humble Nation Building initiative.

This article was published as an Editorial in the Apr-Jun 2016 issue of GreatGameIndia – India’s only quarterly magazine on Geopolitics and International Affairs.

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  • We have multiple languages,caste,creeed and the poor thought they are remaining poor due to lack of English language as the poor are thrusted to learn their mother tongue without any job opportunities while the rich sent their kids to MCA etc and also to America. People aspirred to become Sunder Pichais,Sathya nadella etc and it is natural. Now India has to plan for the impending collapse of IT boom.