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The Almighty Buck Businesses

Indian College Students Face Bleak Prospects 483

Posted by kdawson
from the firm-handshake-and-accentless-English dept.
The New York Times has a piece on the lackluster prospects facing the great majority of Indian college graduates. Most of the 11 million students in India's 18,000 colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, according to the article, heavy on obedience and rote memorization and light on useful job skills. From the article: "In the 2001 census, [Indian] college graduates had higher unemployment — 17 percent — than middle or high school graduates... [At a middle-tier college] dozens of students swarmed around a reporter to complain about their education. 'What the market wants and what the school provides are totally different,' a commerce student said.... [A] final-year student who expects next year to make $2 to $4 a day hawking credit cards, was dejected. 'The opportunities we get at this stage are sad,' she said. 'We might as well not have studied.'"
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Indian College Students Face Bleak Prospects

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  • by hsmith (818216) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:04PM (#17117784)
    In the US and India. College isn't training you for a job, it is learning a field of study. Perhaps this is the issue, jobs require these "degrees" and now that is what colleges teach to, not the theory behind the area of study. My college was guilty of this, sadly.
    • by zymurgyboy (532799) <zymurgyboyNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:11PM (#17117932)
      How is that wrong exactly? A university education is not about job skills. Trade school is about job skills. How terrible that someone would spend four years learning about a larger world, a variety of different disciplines and develop a love of learning for its own sake. College is not, thankfully, a means to end. Nor should it be.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Qzukk (229616)
        How is that wrong exactly?

        That wasn't what he was complaining about. He was complaining that companies started demanding degrees as proof of "training" (as opposed to proof of the ability to learn skills) and many colleges obliged by providing the training that the companies wanted.

        Also, if you think that's not what companies want when they ask for a BS or a MS in Computer Science, how many of those job postings did not tack "and years of experience in ..." onto a degree requirement if they were looking fo
      • It sounds like you are a professor trying to protect your job, or a student who is trying justify the cost of your education. The truth is most students who go to college do so because they want to be employable with decent salaries after they get their deploma. While many use it as a terific opertunity to learn more then just what they need for their job, they still want to be able to enter the work force at a good wage after they are done. "learning about a larger world, a variety of different discipl
        • by catfood (40112) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:30PM (#17119538) Homepage
          Your pal said:
          I don't know why college never bothered teaching us SQL and Database? I spend a hell of a lot of my day working on that.

          I do know why. It's because you (and presumably your friend) majored in Computer Science, not software engineering.

          What I don't understand is why you sought a degree in Computer Science if you just wanted the skills to write corporate database applications. That's not what Computer Science is.

          • by GryMor (88799) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:42PM (#17123036)
            My Computer Science program included a low credit required class that was a general overview of Databases and their theoretical underpinings (Relational Algebra, old hiarchical models and some other history). Ten years later I'm still using what I learned in that (and many other) courses to spot BSing DBAs. Sure, I may not know how some particular feature of Oracle is supposed to work, but I learned enough to be able to figure it out given a seemingly absurd statement and devise tests to cut through the mysticism.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I don't know what crackerjack box they got their CS degree out of, but I had to take an RDBMS (SQL) class, and I also had to impliment a database from scratch in another class. Both of these experiences have served me well in the business world. Of course, as new technologies have emerged (object databases, etc) I've learned all I can about it - and in some cases have used the new technology to gain advantages where traditional methods have failed (every problem is not a nail, and every tool is not a hamm
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nine-times (778537)

          The truth is most students who go to college do so because they want to be employable with decent salaries after they get their deploma.

          Assuming that's the case, then we should be investing in trade schools for these students, because that's what they're looking for. Many American universities do seem to be heading in the direction of becoming huge, vaguely connected trade schools with semi-professional sport leagues attached, and I guess that's fine, but let's call a spade a spade. Job training is not

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by NDPTAL85 (260093)
            Isn't a liberal arts education just a trade school for going into the trades of literature, teaching and or politics?
          • Mod parent up (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
            Lots of good stuff in this thread but this is the best. I think the going-to-college-by-default contributes to a lot of our problems with education. When everyone goes to college and pretty much expects to do well (on account of the grade inflation at their high school), the whole system gets dumbed down to the extent that college grads seem to have the same basic english&math skills that incoming freshmen used to have. Seriously, I've been too afraid to look in the last few years: what % of college g
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by WhoBeDaPlaya (984958)
              What I believe I'm seeing as an EE/CE TA is that the average student is steadily becoming dumber, expecting to be spoon-fed and being practically devoid of all powers of deduction. This is evident in the lower level classes and really evident in the advanced senior level classes (eg. microwave engineering class, which requires tying together lots of concepts from basic electronics, EM, etc.). However, the good/excellent students are still as good/excellent as ever (probably the same with the outliers on the
      • by kalirion (728907)
        College is not, thankfully, a means to end.

        Huh? What gave you that idea? I'd think that very few people go to college for the "enjoyment" of it. They go there to learn, but for not for the sake of the process of learning. I'd think that if people could press a button and upload into their brains Matrix style all the information/skills they would have learned/acquired in college, by far the vast majority would choose that option.
        • by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:15PM (#17119162)
          I'd think that very few people go to college for the "enjoyment" of it.

          Are you serious? I highly recommend college just for the enjoyment part of it. I had more fun in college than at any other time in my life. Plus, the connections and friendships that I made there are extremely valuable.
          Go there to learn, to learn how to learn, to learn skills (the easy part), and to socialize (the important part). -ec

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Salvance (1014001) *
      Exactly. I would gladly hire 10 indian workers at $10-20/day (which I've been told isn't a bad salary in many parts of India) if they had even a small degree of any computer related skills. Wouldn't even need to be coding. And I'm not talking about offshoring work that would be done by Americans, I'm talking about adding new areas to my business that I couldn't possibly provide if I were to use American labor. This would be a win-win for everyone, since it would provide additional revenue that I could u
    • by tilandal (1004811) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:24PM (#17118226)
      The difference between a bad college and a good college is the how vs the why. At a bad college they teach you HOW program in C++. At a good college they expect you know HOW to program in C++, they teach you Why programing languages are they way they are.
      • by bockelboy (824282) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:31PM (#17118346)
        A good college shouldn't expect you to know HOW to program in C++. A Good College should teach how to program first and foremost, where the example language is C++.

        I had friends in Georgia Tech who were decent Java programmers who did miserable in their introductory programming classes because the professor chose an extremely obscure language that no one knew beforehand. This way, he knew that no one came in who knew programming, but didn't know the concepts. By choosing a weird language, he could force concepts first, specific languages later. They hated it, got a poor grade, but came out better programmers.

        On the same note, a mathematician does not differentiate between solutions of ax^2 + bx + c = 0 and x^2 + 5x + 1 = 0; knowing how to solve the quadratic equation is the important part, the second is just an example to make the theory easier.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by syousef (465911)
          Well yes and no...I hear this all the time and all I can say is you're looking from an academician's point of view.

          The procedures for solving ax^2 + bx + c = 0 and x^2 + 5x + 1 = 0 are basically the same. Languages on the other hand can do things very differently. Stuff that's easy in a procedural language isn't easy in a functional language for example. Even where the language constructs and features are the same (and you can bet they aren't always the same) there's huge variety between standard and specia
    • by rlp (11898)
      College isn't training you for a job, it is learning a field of study

      I paid for my college education by working several jobs and taking out student loans. My expectation was that college was providing me with training for a job in a specific professional field. It did, and in fact provided a fairly good ROI. That was twenty five years ago. Today with college education in the US easily running into six figures, I suspect most students are still looking for job / professional training. That is, unless
      • by hsmith (818216)
        I blew $100k going to college to get a degree in CS. Probalby 75% of the skills I use on a daily basis I learned outside of the classroom on my own time. It is absurd that you *MUST* go to college now to get any sort of a decent job. Colleges have turned into the "apprenticeship" we once were "blessed" with. Sure, I am glad I went to college, but the amount of money I paid personally is a bit absurd to what I got out of it. Even getting my jobs outside of college had little to do with my in class skills, ev
    • by yali (209015) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:43PM (#17118572)

      There is no comparison between US college education and the middle-tier Indian colleges being discussed. From TFA:

      A deeper problem, specialists say, is a classroom environment that treats students like children even if they are in their mid-20's. Teaching emphasizes silent note-taking and discipline at the expense of analysis and debate...

      Rote memorization is rife at Indian colleges because students continue to be judged almost solely by exam results. There is scant incentive to widen their horizons -- to read books, found clubs or stage plays.

      The problem isn't one of teaching intellectual disciplines versus practical skills. The problem is that Indian colleges are teaching neither.

    • I agree, however: "learning a field of study," is not what most people in college want, nor what most employers are looking for.

      What most students want is job skills. Few students have the inclination (or spare funds) to learn for the sake of learning for four years, and then spend another two or three at a trade/professional school, before they can get a real position.

      Students go to various schools in great part because of the job prospects they think they'll have on completion. Only the rich can afford to simply go because it will be intellectually stimulating. Plus, mixing together people who just want job training with people who are fundamentally interested in learning is a mistake; neither are going to be satisfied with the results.

      To be honest, I think we need to remove some of the social stigma surrounding trade schools in the U.S., and we should have a clear path for students that just want to get job skills. Maybe the companies themselves could even help fund them, and in return get to dictate parts of the curriculum (via directed tax contributions, if not voluntarily). That would remove the education/industry disconnect. Students who wanted an 'education' would be able to go to college, and students who want 'job training' and a near-guaranteed job in a relatively short amount of time could go to the trade schools.

      I think in the U.S. we have dragged 'childhood' further and further out; there is no reason why a person should have to go through nineteen or twenty years of schooling before they can survive on their own in the economy. Education needs to be made more relevant to what students want to learn, and more rigorous earlier in the curriculum. Huge swaths of my own education were nothing but wasted time because of the way the system is currently set up; there is no reason why a motivated 15 or 16-year-old shouldn't be able to be out learning a skill, if that's what they want to do. Making them acquire thousands of dollars in debt and years of wasted 'education' that they won't use first, helps no one.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by crisvtc5 (1013299)
      If I didn't see half my company lose their jobs to India, I'd feel worse for these people.
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:05PM (#17117806)
    > But as graduates complain about a lack of jobs, companies across India see a lack of skilled applicants. The contradiction is explained, experts say, by the poor quality of undergraduate education. India's thousands of colleges are swallowing millions of new students every year, only to turn out degree holders whom no one wants to hire.

    Well, Indian companies, if your universities are turning out graduates of sub-par, and you're no longer pleased to being able to bringing products to markets in a timely manner, please to be introducing you a land where you can be outsourcing your business products and services. This land is being called America! And you can be outsourcing your technical business to it!

    (We are apologizing for the quality of the technical support and code we send back. We are knowing that "Howdy Y'all! My name is Jethro! How can ah help y'all with yer blinkinlights?" and "Segmentation pwnage, core dumped, dude" isn't quite what you're used to receiving, but remember... you do get what you pay for.)

    • by blueZhift (652272)
      LOL. If only education were the real issue. The jobs in the U.S. were outsourced to India because the labor there is much cheaper. Ironically, if U.S. corporations want to hang on to cheap labor in India, they'll need to do something to help improve the quality of Indian education. Otherwise, the supply of qualified talent will shrink and drive up wages due to soaring demand.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        This effect is already taking place; what with the population of usefully competent people of India having been heavily "mined" by existing "outsourcing" and foreign hiring, it is no longer the case that India is a clear "bargain."

        That is why there have been further pursuits of outsourcing opportunities in China and Russia, and even places a bit further "off the already beaten path," essentially because once the "beaten path" has gotten "beaten," you're left with either bidding prices up, or fighting o

  • by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:05PM (#17117820)

    "What the market wants and what the school provides are totally different," a commerce student, Sohail Kutchi, said.

    Ironically, American businesses, i.e., tech companies, complain about the samething with U.S. Universities.

    • by sholden (12227) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:14PM (#17118006) Homepage
      Shock horror, Universities aren't job training centers. Who would have thought, places of higher learning actually caring about theories and learning and not about job skills.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Surt (22457)
        The problem is, (presumably in both countries) the disconnect between expectations:

        Businesses want to hire college graduates because they assume they will be better trained to do jobs.
        Smart students go to college expecting to get trained to do jobs.
        Colleges try to teach students to think, and don't give them any job skills training.
        Trade schools get the students who (mostly) can't get in to a college, and try to train them to do jobs.

        What businesses really ought to be doing is refusing to hire college grads
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sholden (12227)

          Smart students go to college expecting to get trained to do jobs.

          You have a strange definition of "smart". Smart students don't expect to get job training at university, they expect to get a university education - something essentially unrelated to job training.

          Smart people who want training to get a job don't go to university they go and get that training and start working a year, maybe two or three earlier than those who go to university. The university students never catch up with that head start on the

  • by ivi (126837) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:08PM (#17117882)
    My advice for these Students:

    - Gather into small Learning Cells (about 5 students / cell)

    - Setup Internet-based home study centers (eg, share houses
        with FAST Internet on each of their computers)

    - discuss ideas, develop skills (technical, entrepreneurial) & knowledge
        from Internet sources, courses & talks

    - publish & exchange ideas with similar groups

    - start on-line businesses

    :

    - profit & live well...
  • Obedience (Score:5, Informative)

    by NetDanzr (619387) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:08PM (#17117888)
    "heavy on obedience and rote memorization"

    When I was recruiting a replacement for me in my previous job as a financial analyst, the obedience aspect was the reason I rejected all Indian candidates. None of them, despite very high qualifications, didn't even make it to the second round, because the job required a high degree of personal initiative. I simply kept running into such a strong culture of obedience, that sometimes I had the feeling I was talking to computers: very fast, very good at what they were doing, but offering zero dissent or showing any desire to do anything on their own. A human garbage-in-garbage-out system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by klstoner (987270)
      Absolutely! I worked for months and months, trying to inspire, direct, encourage, support my Bangalore counterparts to show some personal initiative in solving sticky problems. Even the most basic eluded them, and it was an uphill battle getting them to step out on a limb and take a chance at being proactive. This story in the NYT absolutely positively reflects the realities of my own experiences, and actually substantiates what I've been saying for years (but have been accused of being anti-Indian for sayi
  • college? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:09PM (#17117896) Homepage
    It sounds like these kids want training, not Educations.
  • The Guru (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ice Wewe (936718) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:13PM (#17117974)
    "Name one indian here that doesn't drive a taxi"

    "That guy on the Simpsons!"

    ... "He is a cartoon!"

  • Interesting. That averages out to 611.1 students per school.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:23PM (#17118190)
    HOLY CRAP! this is my daily experience at work!

    I can't for the life of me remember my /. account, but this is what I see everyday...

    IT people that can't fix their own MS word problems...

    give them instructions on step by step how to do something, no problem. Give them an exe and tell them to install a program, it'll never happen.

    Everyone I've talked to says the same thing. give them a structured problem and they knock it outa the park. give them an open ended real world problem without structure given to them, and they are lost.

    It makes me feel good about myself and the ability to think, and figure out what concept to apply and how to apply it...
  • give me a break (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by gtshafted (580114)
    This article is unfair to center the attention on Indian education. I can say the same thing for US education in general. School is about regurgitation and not much else. Personally I feel that my university degree is more about how well I listen to directions and follow orders than thinking.
  • IIT (Score:5, Informative)

    by NitsujTPU (19263) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:31PM (#17118332)
    The article fails to mention that the IIT's are among the best schools in the world. It's not all bleak.
    • Re:IIT (Score:5, Informative)

      by linguae (763922) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:39PM (#17118488)

      Read the article again. The article talks about how IIT graduates are doing well in the industry because of their high quality of teaching. The main focus of the article, however, is on other Indian universities, not IIT (which is one of the best schools in the world).

  • by WickedLogic (314155) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:34PM (#17118400) Journal
    Wait one minute... you mean we aren't all going to be well paid and rich? This sounds like that dot com thing that I heard about. I'm going to go back to my true plan, selling Amway products. Nutri-lite anyone?
  • Prospects (Score:5, Interesting)

    by basic0 (182925) <mmccollow@yahoGINSBERGo.ca minus poet> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:36PM (#17118432)
    "lackluster prospects facing the great majority of...college graduates"

    Speaking as a college CS/Network graduate whom, 2 years after graduating, is still working as a janitor, allow me to welcome you to this planet.

    In my case, it's not because I have inferior skills or training. It's because most employers I've had contact with see a diploma/degree as "quaint" and "irrelevant". Since I don't have 5+ years of experience, excellent "soft skills" (PHB corporate-speak if I've ever heard it), and I don't want to sell anything, I'm apparently unemployable, no matter what school I went to or how well I did.

    Here's a brief story that gives contrast to the wonderfully frustrating experience I've been putting up with for over 2 years: I have a friend (who dropped out of highschool no less) who works in IT. One of his co-workers, a supposed IT expert who makes ~$100k a year, recently said to him "I assume we'll be using FAT32 for our 1TB backup drive's filesystem?". It seems to me, someone making $100k/year in IT should be aware of things like the limitations of FAT32 and Windows' implementation thereof. My friend tells me this sort of ineptitude is common among the IT "experts" he works with, and he spends more time correcting their mistakes than doing his own work. Meanwhile, I can't even get an *interview* for entry level jobs that a highschool student could perform.

    Not that I'm bitter or anything. Anyways, back to washing floors so I can make my student loan payments. Thanks for listening :P
    • "Excellent "soft skills"

      Here's a brief story that gives contrast to the wonderfully frustrating experience I've been putting up with for over 2 years: I have a friend (who dropped out of highschool no less) who works in IT. One of his co-workers, a supposed IT expert who makes ~$100k a year, recently said to him "I assume we'll be using FAT32 for our 1TB backup drive's filesystem?". It seems to me, someone making $100k/year in IT should be aware of things like the limitations of FAT32 and Windows' implement
    • Re:Prospects (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:11PM (#17119086)
      I think it's time you try to take a more objective look at yourself. If your resume is good enough, perhaps you are coming across poorly in interviews. Physical appearance, manners, diction, etc... all matter. It's all about attention to detail. Most important though, is projecting the right balance of confidence / humility. These are people skills anybody can nail.

      Most employers do not see degrees as quaint. Experience rules for senior positions, but entry level positions are made for recent grads. A problem you are going to face is that you're graduation is becoming less recent all the time. I hope you are keeping up on your skills and continuing your education. Do some volunteer IT or try to make yourself visible on some open source projects.

      Where I work, we turn away people with very good resumes all the time if we don't think the person would fit in. I'm not going to hire somebody unless I think I'm going to enjoy working with them. Think about it- you probably spend more time with people in your office than with your significant other.

      We've also hired some people with unrelated degrees to do some of the most demanding work here (our network admin has a degree in german language).

      Lastly, what are you doing to expand your people network? Often who you know is more important that what you know. I used to think this was awful, but now I think it's because people are very afraid of risk and the unknown. Find other nerds and find out what they are doing. Interview at their company after you have thoroughly researched whatever it is they do.

      -ec

    • Re:Prospects (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Quadraginta (902985) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:11PM (#17119098)
      So...what did you do in your summers? Co-op work, internship, work in the field in which you hope to be employed? Did you work during the term, too, in the field in which you hope to be employed? Do you have at least 9 to 15 month-equivalents of real experience, and if not -- why not? What were you thinking?

      As an employer, I can tell you that we're well aware of the deficiencies of education, especially in technical fields. We know it emphasizes ivory-tower theory, not practical solutions, and good listening to authority, not the cut-and-thrust compromise and jury-rig of the rambunctious real-world contest between those bastards in Marketing and us bastards in Development. We are also sadly aware of the grade and "AP class" inflation going on, we know very well an A doesn't mean stellar work anymore, and a B a significant cut above average. We know grades and taking "Honors" classes hardly mean a damn thing anymore.

      So, yes, we do look for more concrete measures of competence. Something like experience and success in a similar job, a certain amount of dedication and willingness to learn, a lack of rigidity about what you will and won't dirty your hands doing (e.g. God help you if you routinely volunteer the fact during interviews that you refuse to do any selling).

      If you didn't know this before, and so didn't spend your summers and after-school and between-school time enhancing your competitiveness, or, worse, didn't even realize you were in a competition with a million other hungry souls -- if you vaguely thought you were living in a socialist paradise where purity of soul guaranteed you your daily bread -- then I'm real sorry for the Big Lie your teachers amused themselves telling you, but there it is. The real world doesn't, in fact, give a damn about you, and will cheerfully let you starve to death unless in its eyes you have something quite valuable to offer. Fortunately, being young, if you were operating under any illusions you have time to make corrections.

      Also...don't forget to give it some time. Very few people get a great job right out of school. Usually it takes a few years to find something nice, and many people have to work for a decade or more to find a position that really suits them. Don't give up, keep trying, it will come if you persist. (And don't forget to feed back your experience to those younger than yourself every chance you get, so the dippy delusions rampant in our Sesame Street educational system are somewhat less effective.)
    • by Peldor (639336) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:47PM (#17119886)
      You missed a spot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by p0tat03 (985078)

      The fact that you refer to soft skills as "PHB corporate-speak" speaks volumes about your current predicament. These soft skills - like the ability to gauge personalities, reactions, and simply get along with others - are perhaps more important than any technical skill that you possess.

      Did you participate in internships during your time at college? If you didn't, smack yourself upside the head. For those reading that are entering or in college right now in a tech-related field, realize this: internships a

  • Build a few world-class universities like IIT and neglect everything else
    ==> prestige but lots of unemployment and an underperforming economy.

    Build lots of perfectly-OK universities
    ==> educated population, opportunity for the many bright people in your population of a billion, vibrant economy and not just in a few geographical niches.
  • [A] final-year student who expects next year to make $2 to $4 a day hawking credit cards, was dejected.

    If he is exercising independent business judgement while selling those credit cards, he may be getting a better education than any that one can get in any school.

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:52PM (#17118720) Homepage Journal
    Most of the 11 million students in India's 18,000 colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, according to the article, heavy on obedience and rote memorization and light on useful job skills.

    They can get jobs as TA's in American universities where they can require the students to obediently engage in rote memorization. All we need to do is reduce the xenophobia in the US's immigration policies.

  • by Nightlily (140378) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @03:53PM (#17118754) Homepage Journal
    I spent a lot of time with Indian college graduates in grad school. Some were smart and others couldn't even find a computer let alone program it. I can say the exact same thing about American / European / (insert your nationality) graduates.

    One thing I will say about Indian college graduates is that they *tend* not to think outside the box. If the solution wasn't painfully obvious or spelled out in the textbook or lecture notes, then some of the Indian students would run into serious problems. Also some Indian students would ace courses which required large amounts of memorization but would fail practical courses.
    • by digitalhermit (113459) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:20PM (#17119304) Homepage
      I work with lots of Indian programmers and developers. Many are very good. Most of them are pretty hard workers. And as you say, there are some that do not belong in IT. I agree particularly with your statement that unless the solution is a stock answer, then they cannot solve it. But I can say the same about the American IT workers I've dealt with, especially those that sprung up during the height of the dotcom. Right now the number of tech schools in India seems to be approaching the number of tech schools during the boom. You remember? Everyone was an MCSE, everyone was a web developer, hardly any knew what a for loop was.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gnalle (125916)
      The grad students are chosen from their score nationwide entrance exams. These exams are necesary, because it is the only practical way to find the best few percent of the students, and they have to be standardised and nationwide to avoid local inflation and corruption.

      The problem is that the education system ends up training students for the entrance exam rather than for a future life as a researcher. This means that they have to be reeducated a bit when they start doing their Ph.D. However an Indian Ph.

  • More factors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by escay (923320) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:07PM (#17119002) Journal
    Here are three more factors that are directly affecting Indian students:

    If you are not an engineer or a doctor, then you are nobody. This is an outlook that is very prevalent among Indian parents - there are only two professional areas worth studying (although MBA has recently joined the two) for any indian student. All other fields (pure sciences, arts, humanities, commerce etc) are considered last resorts and muster very little respect. Graduates in such areas are not as esteemed or valued as their engineer friends, thus they receive less exposure and lesser opportunities.

    Which college do you go to? the one on this end of the street or the one on the other end? as a result of this idolatry of disciplines, engineering colleges and medical schools are cropping up like mushrooms everywhere. starting an engineering college is a very easy and profitable business venture in India. This proliferation of institutions (with the wrong motives) thus leads to subpar standards of education - so even the engineers/doctors now are not trained properly in basic skills.

    Universities are not for teaching communication skills. That's what society is for. if you cannot converse well with others, if you cannot carry yourself with confidence and in general cannot interact socially, then it's probably not the college's fault. it is up to the students to read non-curricular english books (which a college cannot, and shouldn't force), to form groups, try out new ideas and socialise more. Being anglicised, active and outgoing should not be considered a stigma anymore, and certainly should not be considered unpatriotic. The mindsets of students (and more importantly, of overbearing parents) should adapt to these new circumstances.

    There are more things than thick-accented teachers and archaic teaching methods at fault here. In a developing country like India where opportunities and population continue to explode at a devilish pace, the competition will only grow fiercer and it takes more than passive complaining about teachers to succeed.

  • India ailing! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sharadov (1011909) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:39PM (#17119728)
    I am glad this topic came up. For all the hype sweeping up India I think they need to focus on innovation and then call themselves the next Technology Superpower. I was a victim of the Indian System. I did my undergrad there and those years were the most harrowing . All it involved was rote learning, which I was never good that. It took me 6 years to get through those 4 years. I questioned myself several times over that period. Then I came to the US and started my MS programme. What I experienced in my first few weeks was what I had been dreaming of all my life. All those ingredients like free thinking, risk taking and freedom of speech, things for which I was called rebellious were the norm here. And that is the truth in why we do not see a single Product based India IT Company in the news. All these mega companies are in the IT service segment.
  • by LoyalOpposition (168041) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:28PM (#17120596)
    ...experience in Brazil. He said that all the science teaching there was rote and gave the example of triboluminescence. He asked some Brazilian students to define triboluminescence, which they were able to do. But then he asked what would happen if he were to crush a sugar crystal in the dark with a pair of pliers, and none were able to answer.

    -Loyal
  • by a1ok (250188) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:41PM (#17121632) Journal
    I can't say much about commerce graduates, since I graduated with a B.E. degree in Computers (there is no seperate B.S. degree in India for software). But I certainly believe the computer education syllabus could do with a major overhaul, as well as better teachers.
    NOTE: The following is also a rant, if you read it you can understand how dissatisfied I am with wasting several years to get a stupid paper certificate which I am not in the least bit proud of. Be warned that this is all highly subjective and biased opinion.

    The syllabus for any degree in India is revised very infrequently, maybe once every 5 or 10 years - this is especially bad for a fast-changing field like computers, I guess it may be OK for mature disciplines such as mechanical or civil engineering. The first year of the 4 year Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) course for *any* specialization (computers, electronics, mechanical ...) is common - in other words, 25% of my time in college is going to be wasted studying about irrelevant topics that are extremely unlikely to be useful in my chosen profession. To give a few examples, I had to learn (by rote of course):
    1. How cement is mixed etc. (in Chemistry)
    2. Engineering drawing (isometric projection etc., useful in Civil Engg.)
    3. Mechanical engg. concepts like stresses and struts (no, not Java Struts! :) )
    Now, I can understand that students need to be exposed to different fields so they can decide which one they want etc. - but why do you have to waste an entire year after someone has decided his trade, just for the 0.001% of people who might wish to change professions?

    Unlike many people, I went into C.S. (its actually called Computer Engg. degree) because I like programming, not just because of earning potential. As such, I had grouped with a couple of friends and we tried to make small programs, games etc. even before entering college. Now, the only first year subject relevant to C.S. is Computer Programming - where we are initiated into the mysteries of Pascal. In the first semester (we have 2 semesters in a year btw.), I got an assignment to print 1 to 10 as output. When I hand it in, I actually get told off by the teacher for using the 'for' loop - since we hadn't got to that stage in the syllabus, it was Not Allowed to use looping constructs! This should give you some idea of the quality of teaching in our hallowed halls of learning. I quickly learned to keep inquisitive experimentation seperate from class assignments, and got through college by copying almost all assignments (which activity is *very* common btw.)

    The teaching staff in most Indian colleges is abysmal, due to extremely poor salary the only people who end up there are rejects from industry who would never get a job elsewhere. I doubt most could even hold a data entry position - there were the few intelligent teachers who did explain and teach well, but they were a minority. Also, when I write a board exam the paper will be corrected by some random teacher, who might be illiterate for all I know.
    If questions are based on solved problems in standard textbooks, the teacher will likely expect the exact same answer - if you use a 'while' loop instead of 'for', it might not satisfy the prof. who only wants similar structure and doesn't understand there is more than one way to do a problem. In this environment, how do you expect anyone to use modular structure, descriptive variable names or recursion etc.?
    The problem of 'should be done acc. to the textbook' applies in other disciplines too - although I read a lot, when answering an English paper I wouldn't dream of using abstruse erudite diction as it would be incomprehensible to the examiner. In other words, we're actually taught to use small words since few teachers would understand complex verbiage.

    Passing college exams in India is not done through understanding the course material and applying learned concepts, this would be a foreign concept to most Indian students. The right way to pass, is of cour
  • An American in India (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ServerIrv (840609) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:56PM (#17121830)

    I had the unique opportunity to work at an Indian web design firm as a project manager and technology coach. I was directly involved in screening and interviewing job applicants, and I agree many of the observations noted in the article. As nearly 100% of our clients are western companies, solid English skills are a must. We cannot compromise on this requirement, and even the office runner is required to take English classes.

    To give an example of the problems with the Indian education system. One applicant brought in her senior design project, a full website, to impress us at an interview. Problem #1, every file she brought was infected with a virus. Problem #2, it was a complete patchwork job from a free scripts site (copyrights intact) pieced together with about 5% her code. Problem #3, she didn't understand the code she ripped off well enough to change a simple menu item. Problem #4, this had received a 100% grade towards her graduation. She was rewarded for searching the internet and creating a website via copy/paste. She was not taught how to create, only how to duplicate.

    Any Indian with money can get a masters degree. If you pay your bill at exam time, they will pass you onto the next level. During the time I was in India, a major university was forced to shut down because of student protesting. They were protesting exam fraud investigations of the graders the university employed. Master's level exams were being graded by 10 year-olds based on: length, neatness of writing, number of paragraphs, and the 'prettiness' of the graphs. I think this is where the University of Phoenix got its model for taking people's money.

    I absolutely loved my time in India, and I am not trying to bash the country. I just want to share my limited exposure to the reported problem.

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