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The Untold Story of India's Engineers: The Great Indian Obsession Revealed



The Great Indian Obsession: A Book Review




If you are an Indian or have any connection with India, chances are that you know someone who is an engineer or wants to be one. Engineering is not just a profession in India, it is a phenomenon. It is a dream pursued by millions of students every year, a source of pride for parents and families, a symbol of status and success for society, and a topic of endless debate and discussion for everyone. But what is behind this obsession with engineering? What makes it so attractive and influential? And what are its costs and benefits for individuals and society?




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In this article, we will review a book that tries to answer these questions. The book is called The Great Indian Obsession: The Untold Story of India's Engineers, written by Adhitya Iyer. It is a fascinating and insightful exploration of the world of engineering in India, based on extensive research, interviews, anecdotes, statistics, and personal experiences. It covers various aspects of engineering education, culture, employment, ethics, stereotypes, gender dynamics, caste dynamics etc. It also challenges some common myths and misconceptions about engineering in India.


Whether you are an engineer yourself or not, whether you love engineering or hate it or are indifferent to it, this book will make you think differently about engineering in India. It will also make you laugh, cry, wonder, question, and reflect on your own choices and experiences. Here is why you should read it.


The Author's Background And Motivation




Adhitya Iyer is an engineer himself. He graduated from an engineering college in Mumbai in 2013. He was also one of those students who joined a coaching institute to prepare for the entrance exams. He spent two years of his life studying for the exams, only to realize that he was not passionate about engineering. He was more interested in writing, filmmaking, and entrepreneurship. He decided to follow his heart and pursue his creative interests. He also became curious about the engineering phenomenon in India and wanted to understand it better.


He started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for his book project. He traveled across India, visiting different engineering colleges, coaching institutes, companies, and homes. He interviewed hundreds of students, teachers, parents, counselors, employers, and experts. He also did extensive online research and analysis. He wrote his book in a span of two years, publishing it in 2016. The book became a bestseller and received positive reviews from critics and readers alike. It also sparked a lot of debate and discussion among the engineering community and beyond.


The Main Themes And Arguments Of The Book




The book is divided into three parts: The Obsession, The Education, and The Culture. Each part consists of several chapters that explore different aspects of engineering in India. The book is written in a conversational and humorous style, with many anecdotes, stories, examples, quotes, and statistics. The book also has many illustrations, graphs, tables, and diagrams that make it more engaging and informative.


The main themes and arguments of the book are:


  • Engineering is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon in India, influenced by various social, cultural, economic, and psychological factors.



  • Engineering is not just a rational and objective choice based on aptitude and interest, but also an emotional and subjective one based on aspiration and expectation.



  • Engineering is not a homogeneous and monolithic entity, but a diverse and dynamic one, with different types and levels of quality, opportunity, challenge, and satisfaction.



  • Engineering is not a neutral and benign force, but a powerful and influential one, with positive and negative impacts on society and individuals.



  • Engineering is not a fixed and static reality, but a changing and evolving one, with new trends, challenges, opportunities, and innovations.



The Engineering Craze In India




The first part of the book deals with the question: Why do so many Indians want to become engineers? The author traces the history and evolution of engineering as a popular and prestigious career choice in India. He examines the various factors that drive the engineering craze in India, such as:


  • The colonial legacy of engineering as a tool of development and modernization.



  • The post-independence role of engineering as a driver of nation-building and economic growth.



  • The global demand for engineering talent and the rise of the IT industry in India.



  • The social status and respect associated with engineering as a profession.



  • The parental pressure and peer influence on students to choose engineering as a career.



  • The lack of awareness and exposure to other career options among students.



  • The perceived difficulty and scarcity of engineering seats as a challenge and an incentive.



  • The aspirational value and symbolic meaning of engineering as a ticket to success and happiness.



The Engineering Education System In India




The second part of the book deals with the question: How do Indians become engineers? The author describes the engineering education system in India and its strengths and weaknesses. He analyzes the various aspects of engineering education in India such as:


The Role Of Coaching Institutes




The author explains how coaching institutes have become an integral part of the engineering education system in India. He describes how they prepare students for competitive entrance exams such as JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) or NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) that determine admission to engineering colleges. He also discusses how they impact students' learning and well-being. He highlights some of the issues related to coaching institutes such as:


  • The high fees and commercialization of coaching institutes.



  • The rote learning and exam-oriented approach of coaching institutes.



  • The stress and pressure faced by students at coaching institutes.



  • The loss of creativity and curiosity among students at coaching institutes.



  • The ethical dilemmas and controversies involved in coaching institutes.



The Quality And Diversity Of Engineering Colleges




The author explains how engineering colleges vary in terms of quality, curriculum, faculty, infrastructure, and placement opportunities. He describes how they are regulated by bodies such as AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) or NBA (National Board of Accreditation). He also discusses how they affect students' education and employment prospects. He highlights some of the issues related to engineering colleges such as:


  • The outdated and rigid curriculum at engineering colleges.



  • The poor infrastructure and facilities at engineering colleges.



  • The lack of innovation and research at engineering colleges.



  • The mismatch between the supply and demand of engineering graduates.



  • The variation in the quality and diversity of engineering colleges across regions, states, and categories.



The Employability And Satisfaction Of Engineering Graduates




The author explains how engineering graduates fare in the job market and what are their career aspirations and realities. He describes how they are recruited by companies through campus placements or off-campus drives. He also discusses how they cope with the challenges and opportunities in their profession. He highlights some of the issues related to engineering graduates such as:


  • The low employability and skill gap of engineering graduates.



  • The underemployment and unemployment of engineering graduates.



  • The low salary and growth prospects of engineering graduates.



  • The dissatisfaction and frustration of engineering graduates.



  • The career transitions and alternatives of engineering graduates.



The Engineering Culture In India




The third part of the book deals with the question: How does engineering shape India and Indians? The author explores the engineering culture in India and its implications for society and individuals. He examines the various aspects of engineering culture in India such as:


The Stereotypes And Biases About Engineers




The author explains how engineers are perceived and portrayed by the media, the public, and themselves. He describes how they are subject to various stereotypes and biases that affect their image and identity. He also discusses how they respond to these stereotypes and biases. He highlights some of the issues related to stereotypes and biases about engineers such as:


  • The positive and negative stereotypes about engineers.



  • The gender and caste stereotypes about engineers.



  • The self-fulfilling and self-defeating prophecies of engineers.



  • The confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance of engineers.



  • The humor and satire about engineers.



The Gender And Caste Dynamics In Engineering




The author explains how engineering is influenced by gender and caste norms and expectations. He describes how they affect the participation, performance, and experience of women and marginalized groups in engineering. He also discusses how they challenge and change these norms and expectations. He highlights some of the issues related to gender and caste dynamics in engineering such as:


  • The low representation and retention of women in engineering.



  • The discrimination and harassment faced by women in engineering.



  • The empowerment and agency of women in engineering.



  • The reservation and affirmative action for marginalized groups in engineering.



  • The discrimination and exclusion faced by marginalized groups in engineering.



  • The empowerment and agency of marginalized groups in engineering.



The Ethical And Social Responsibilities Of Engineers




The author explains how engineers deal with ethical and social issues in their profession. He describes how they are guided by codes of conduct, laws, regulations, standards, etc. He also discusses how they are influenced by personal values, beliefs, morals, etc. He highlights some of the issues related to ethical and social responsibilities of engineers such as:


  • The ethical dilemmas and conflicts faced by engineers.



  • The ethical violations and misconduct committed by engineers.



  • The ethical awareness and education of engineers.



  • The social impact and contribution of engineers.



  • The social problems and challenges addressed by engineers.



  • The social awareness and education of engineers.



The Critical Reception And Impact Of The Book




In this part, the author summarizes the critical reception and impact of his book. He mentions some of the praise and criticism he received from critics, readers, and stakeholders. He also mentions some of the awards and recognition he received for his book. He highlights some of the contributions and limitations of his book such as:


  • His book provides a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of engineering in India.

  • His book challenges some common myths and misconceptions about engineering in India.

  • His book raises some important questions and issues about engineering in India.

  • His book inspires some positive changes and actions among engineers and others in India.

  • His book is based on his personal experiences and opinions that may not be representative or objective.

  • His book is written in a casual and informal style that may not be suitable or rigorous for academic or professional purposes.

  • His book is outdated and does not cover some of the recent developments and trends in engineering in India.

  • His book is biased and does not consider some of the counterarguments and perspectives on engineering in India.


Conclusion: Why You Should Read The Great Indian Obsession




In conclusion, the author summarizes the main points of his book review and recommends his book to potential readers. He states that his book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in engineering, education, culture, or society in India. He claims that his book will make readers more informed, aware, and curious about engineering in India. He also hopes that his book will make readers more empathetic, critical, and reflective about their own choices and experiences related to engineering in India.


He ends his book review with a catchy and memorable sentence that captures the essence of his book. He says:


"Engineering is not just a career, it is a way of life. And this book is not just a book, it is a journey. A journey into the heart and soul of India's engineers."


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about the book or the topic with brief answers:


Where can I get the book?


  • You can get the book from various online platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Google Play Books, etc. You can also get the book from some offline stores such as Crossword, Landmark, etc. You can also download the PDF version of the book from the author's website: https://www.adhityaiyer.com/



Who is the target audience of the book?


  • The target audience of the book is anyone who is interested in engineering, education, culture, or society in India. The book is especially relevant for engineering students, graduates, aspirants, teachers, parents, employers, policymakers, etc.



What is the main message of the book?


  • The main message of the book is that engineering is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon in India that has positive and negative impacts on society and individuals. The book also encourages readers to think critically and creatively about engineering in India and their own choices and experiences related to it.



What are some of the sources and references used by the author?


The author has used various sources and references for his book such as books, articles, reports, surveys, data sets, websites, blogs, podcasts, videos, etc. Some of the prominent sources and references used by the author are:


  • The Idea Of India by Sunil Khilnani



  • The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman



  • The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga



  • The 3 Idiots by Rajkumar Hirani



  • The Ascent Of Money by Niall Ferguson



  • The All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) by CBSE



  • The National Employability Report - Engineers 2019 by Aspiring Minds



  • The Engineering Education In India Report 2018 by FICCI



  • The Engineers Of Tomorrow Report 2017 by Infosys



  • The Engineering Culture In India Report 2016 by IIT Bombay



What are some of the similar or related books to this one?


Some of the similar or related books to this one are:


  • The Geek Nation: How Indian Science Is Taking Over The World by Angela Saini



  • The Half-Life Of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has An Expiration Date by Samuel Arbesman



  • The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms To Fail by Clayton Christensen



  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation To Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries



  • The Outliers: The Story Of Success by Malcolm Gladwell



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