BTec Factories

I work in an office sandwiched between two manufacturing units. One on the left, the other on the right. Both are multi-storey buildings in the heart of the city. The manufacturing process starts at 8.30 in the morning, and ends at 4 in the evening. Raw materials reach the unit from around 8 am. The one on the left has an evening shift as well. They go on till 11 in the night, sometimes later. The process looks- from my building, laborious and uniform on both sides. Are the products, of good quality?

But what do they produce? Now, that's a good question. They do not produce any material. Nothing that can be seen. But they manufacture youngsters with a degree after their names. Yes these are BTec Factories. IIT student factories. Coaching centers cum Intermediate Colleges. Buildings with huge posters of IIT entrance rank holders' photos and their 'marks' obtained, hanging in front. BTec manufacturing units!

In this locality, there must be at least 10 of these institutions- Junior Colleges as they are called. I am proud of the fact that so many of our youngsters are interested in higher education and are actually into it. But I am sad that their interest is mostly in one particular field of study. I wonder what is so much alluring in being an engineer. And why and how does our country need so many engineers? Do not we need English schools, fashion designers, primary teachers, merchants? Or should they all be engineering failed candidates?

Five years ago when I was in Chennai, I had learned that there are around 130 engineering colleges in the city of Chennai itself. Each college will have at least 200 students in a batch. Which means, Chennai alone 'manufactured' 26,000 engineers 5 years ago! Look at Andhra's condition. It has 847 (year 2012) engineering colleges with 3.39 lakh seats! Interestingly, no one talks about the pass percentage of these engineering colleges. It is unofficially heard that not more than 40% pass each year! Now, that is an interesting figure. Out of 100 engineering students, 90 buy their engineering seats paying lakhs. And after 3 or 4 years, they gloriously fail in their course. What a national waste!

Therefore, these manufacturing units do not manufacture engines alone, but loafers and thieves and failures and dropouts and criminals and drug addicts and psychos as well. That's a great social service they are doing. I appreciate the pain they take.

Coming back to the coaching centers, they do another wonderful service to the nation. That is, they inspire a sort of 'spirit of competition' in students, that pulls them down to the abyss of despair if they get one or two marks less than the expected 95+ in the top rated subjects.

Why does this happen? Because it is big business. Having a network of such coaching centers in the heart of cities is no joke. Assets in terms of land and building are huge in magnitude. If 3 lakh students get into Engineering colleges, at least 10 lakhs do try writing exams. The fee is awful! And name and fame in terms of IIT ranks they buy, is great. People say, there is a nexus between these 'factories' and those who set question papers for top competitive examinations. I do not know how much of it is true. If it is, our society has a rotten sense of morality.

I am an ordinary man. I do not understand the rules of this game. But I can say this much. If the cream of our youth goes away into these manufacturing units to become BTec bearers, and majorities come out as BTec failures, we will only have a lopsided society. One that is full of one kind of people. Uniform and boring. With crime levels going up. A society that does not think creatively. One that does not produce / create. A complete consumerist society (we shall fulfill the dream of capitalists). It may take some time, but surely something of this sort is going to happen. Let us wait to see if parents wake up, to wake their children up from this illusion.

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