By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, May 15, 2018: India has benefited a lot in the last two decades in IT sector. It has created jobs in India and also abroad. The engineering colleges managed to have hundred percent placement under this discipline. Young engineers received very high salaries and interesting perquisites or attractive packages. In last few years there has been decline in demand in this field.

Firstly, because there is change in technology and our curriculum has not adjusted to this development. Secondly, knowledge in this sector has spread to other countries. The young graduates in other countries in Asia and Latin America and even in Africa or elsewhere are giving tough competition to our professionals. They are hired in advanced countries at a lesser salaries. Thirdly, Trump’s policy of America for Americans will be a road block.

The new swing in Europe towards rightist philosophy would serve also as an obstacle. Many IT professionals from India serving in the Western countries have become outdated in terms of newer technology. They are also seen as immigrants taking away the local jobs. Due to these factors the seats in the engineering colleges have fallen vacant making many privately run colleges financially unviable.

In India IT sector has still prospects as long as the government and corporate sector keep advancing their programme to bring in more of computerisation. Digital India is the right policy very appropriately introduced by the government after 2014.This is not to suggest that in the past such activities were not going on. Now it is intended to take a campaign mode.

It is not enough for the Central government to start the campaign. The State governments, local self-governments and public sector undertakings have to follow suit. For this funds have to be allocated by the governments and PSUs. Depending upon their budget and surplus they would introduce and expand IT activities. Based on this one can assume the jobs will be created in IT sector within India.

The engineering colleges will continue to have demand in this area although it may not be to the same extent as it was between 1995 and 2015. The colleges should make quick assessment and scale down their capacities. At the same time they should review their course content and upgrade their syllabus. Large resource based industries like steel, aluminium and mining sector in iron ore, bauxite and coal would face uncertainties as the protectionism advocated by Trump and trade wars recently started would slow down the activities.

Further, judicial pronouncements regarding allocation of mines have already produced their impact. Land acquisition has become a big bottleneck for establishment of newer projects with civil society activism and issues relating to compensation and rehabilitation. The new government after coming to power in 2014 did not pursue with the subject for fear of backlash and agitation. For all these reasons, demand for seats in metallurgy, mechanical and chemical engineering etc. would dampen.

The Central government has launched massive road construction programme. If the States would take up such programmes, as Odisha did in last decade, of course depending upon their budget surplus the jobs will be created thus sparking admission to civil engineering and related discipline in the academic institutions. The jobs will continue to be available with attrition due to retirements and superannuation in government and corporate sectors unless the policy of freeze is adopted.

Swatcha Bharat programme is one area which can create jobs for engineers civil, chemical and mechanical etc. River cleaning cannot be confined to only the Ganges. There are any number of rivers in the country which need treatment. In addition, sewage disposal in every habitation whether urban or rural can generate employment and produce energy.

Methane gas produced out of municipal waste in Rangoon, way back in the early thirties of the last century, was used to generate electricity. Separation of garbage, reuse of plastic cans and bottles will keep the environment clean and create jobs. Separating reusable garbage can be attempted keeping separate bins as is the case in advanced countries. Now electronic trash created by outdated mobile telephones and computers has become a problem.

One can recover precious metal from them. It will create jobs through small enterprises. Singapore is following the Scandinavian model which India should adopt. With increasing concern regarding protection of environment, climate change, CO2 emission, presence of high quantity of particulate matter in the air, coal based generation of electricity would be discouraged. Therefore less number of new thermal power plants would be established.

Since demand for electricity would continue and even increase, solar power and wind power will replace traditional thermal power plants. China has done a break-through in this field. Modi’s recent visit to China is expected to improve trade and business relationship with that country. Priority given by the Central government to solar power generation should be given due credit. Manufacture of solar power stations should be encouraged by States. House top solar panels with connection to grids are the right way forward. Pure grade silicon metal will have to be manufactured in India from where photovoltaic cells can be produced.

Incidentally, Dr. Banshidhar Panda, the founder of Odisha based IMFA, pioneer in production of ferro-silicon and silicon metal was pursuing with the idea of manufacture of pure grade silicon metal. It must be stated that it is a power intensive industry. Since consumption of electricity is not picking up although the capacity has already been created, establishment of this kind of industry in the proximity of power plants should be encouraged.

In these areas the jobs can be available. Greening the country after years of deforestation is the answer to reduce greenhouse gas. Apart from protecting the existing forests, new drive taken up by the Odisha Forest Department under the initiative of the highly dedicated civil servant, Suresh Mohapatra, the present Forest Secretary to develop urban forests should be emulated by other States. Within the smart city, Bhubaneswar, Bharatpur Reserve Forest is burning example of this splendid work. Not only it protects animals and trees, it gives to the city much needed air free of pollution.

Similar projects will generate local employment. Tourism, both domestic and international, can be promoted within forests, on beaches, near ancient temples and archaeological finds by dovetailing clean India programme by encouraging construction of hotels, restaurants, wayside facilities, all without large investment through small and medium enterprises which will generate employment in small towns and villages giving scope even for growth of rural tourism. Mangalajodi developed by the Forest Department and Swosti resort established by J K Mohanty near Chilka in Odisha are excellent examples for national policy makers in NITI AYOG to see.

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