Two weeks back I got an invite from Mrs.J.Vijayalakshmi, Head of Department, MCA of Sri Sairam Engineering College, inviting me to do an Inaugural address in their annual National Conference on “Recent Trends in Computing & Communications“. The event conducted in association with Computer Society of India (Region 7) was to be on April 10th 2015, Friday on their campus in West Tambaram near Kishkinta theme park. Since I have never been to that area and addressing students is something that energizes me I immediately agreed to do the talk. Last Friday (April 10th) when I visited their campus after an hour long ride from my office, I was greeted with a vast campus, hundreds of acres nicely maintained out of nowhere.
Going through the papers in the Compact Disc (remember those?) that was released on April 10th event I noticed papers on Sensors, many papers on Social Networking applications, security, Big Data, Social Media analysis and more. Glad to see students interest beyond Snapchat and Instagram!
In my brief talk, I spoke on two major trends. First was a prediction that I made a few weeks back on how I see Smartphones disappearing by 2025. The second trend that I touched on what I foresee happening with Information Technology Outsourcing – what’s known in the industry as Application Development and Testing services changing rapidly beyond recognition. Enterprise customers worldwide don’t want to engage on typical T & M (Time & Material) contracts but are looking for industry-specific niche services that can be quickly integrated with their existing back-end systems with minimum customizations. This saves them from Project related risks, time delays and capital overruns. I highlighted to the students the importance of they being open for change in the job roles they are seeking for, be nimble, focus on deeper computer science challenges and not restrict to application layer alone.
I hope the students enjoyed my talk as much as I did in delivering it.
One item that I saw in the campus that’s been troubling me even after few days of the visit was on the reasons for doing a higher education that was being highlighted, not only here but in many private and few public institutions in India. What I saw that reminded me this was the huge banners near the college canteen displaying the photo, name and the pay package of every student who have been selected in campus interview for jobs from premium software companies including Indian and MNCs. I feel students who see the banners every day with the price tag on top of each photo will get the wrong message, that education is only about a high paying job, it is not about knowledge, curiosity and improvement. $$$ is all that matters. It’s not the banners in particular that I am complaining which are just a mirror showing the scars of the endemic, it’s not about this college alone either, it’s the mindset of overall society. In my opinion, the blame is to be at the parents followed by academicians, governments who are setting wrong priorities and examples for the youngsters. Simplifying the problem as purely an economic one, it’s market forces at play, which due to the high cost of technical education (due to the capital and running costs) has morphed into a supply chain problem. Long-term planning & Investment by Governments & large Philanthropic trusts are possible solutions to break this cycle. I am optimistic it will happen sooner than expected, as soon as India manages to pull its population above the poverty line and the emerging middle class starts looking beyond basic needs & comforts of life.