Kiran Karnik, former president of NASSCOM has dropped the bombshell in his latest book “The Coalition of Competitors” . He has virtually taken off the lid from the so called ” myth” of India producing high quality educated graduates.He conceded to NYT that “India’s software industry found the quality of Indian graduates so poor that they considered only 25 percent of engineering graduates and 15 percent of other graduates employable. “

Shocked? Well, the truth is a hard pill to swallow, however, the fact is – quality of our graduates isn’t at par with other countries. No wonder, we are now struggling to hold on to our pole position which we once achieved mainly because of relentlessness positioning, strong lobbying and smart marketing.

Kiran Karnik is a no nonsense man. He knows what he is talking and will never shoot from his lip without substance. His statement has highlighted a huge flaw within our education system. It has also indicated that our claims of producing high quality graduates may not be that strong.

Moreover, It is not an unknown fact that since the arrival of call center industry, the drop out rate of our college going youth increased manifolds. This further means, out of the pool of whosoever was employable , many left their education mid way, only to get stuck in their career. This further led to more attrition, less satisfied workforce, delivering sub standard work quality.

Another major observation which was highlighted was the disenchantment of our political class with the call center industry. Regional political parties seems to have a growing feeling that millions of rural voters, who are not direct beneficiaries of the software boom, are repulsed by all the fuss around information technology. In my humble opinion, that could have been a temporary pattern . We recently had an example of a regional party who rode to power, in one of the most populous state of India , mainly because of its promises of development via Information Technology.
On the contrary, we have a not so encouraging example as well. Chief minister of West Bengal, indicated that she is principally opposed to the idea of an SEZ (special economic zone), which is expected to employee over 20,000 people. Despite of the fact that the farmers whose land was acquired have been paid adequate compensation, the decision to return the land back for farming is purely political and defies every economic sense whatsoever.

It is no secret that India’s supremacy is being challenged by more efficient countries, like China and Philippines. They have an edge in clear policy making and quick execution as far as grabbing the outsourcing business is concerned.
The entire episode raises several difficult questions –
• If we are not willing to invest in quality education system then how do we expect our youth to compete globally?
• What is the point of producing high number of unemployable graduates?
• Are we going to remain a mute spectator and let go our hard earned advantage just because of petty politics?
• When will we get our bureaucracy think and act quickly without moving in circles because of confusing policies?

These are important questions. Our policy makers need to do some serious introspection. Its high time to take some tough decisions otherwise India might soon loose its tag of being an IT superpower.