Why Bureaucracy Enthralls Engineers?

Last month, in my talk with the students and faculty members of IT-BHU , I had emphasized on my dislike for those graduate engineers who prefer the civil services and go for it. Most waste time in its pursuits. Instead they must be going to the enterprises or for entrepreneurship. They can use and build their careers strengthened by the knowledge of the four years or more (for higher degree) in engineering college. Even if they feel like going for a management course, they must do that after working for some years in field.

It was interesting to look at the results of union public service examination this year a little critically. Mutyalaraju Reva, a backward class candidate from Andhra Pradesh, topped the 2006 civil service exams. He is a graduate engineer from Regional Engineering College, Warangal and has completed his M.Tech from Indian Institute of Sciences too. It was his third attempt. Mutyalaraju cleared for IPS (ranked 223) last year and joined the training, but tried once more for the most coveted IAS and got it with flying colours. In his first attempt, Reva couldn’t not even clear the examination. The Reva’s story raises many questions. Why is IAS so prestigious? Why did even after the M.Tech from world famous IISc make Reva pursue a career as engineer or technocrats? Why did Reva not clear the examination in his first attempt? Why didn’t he carry on as IPS? I know that the boss of my cousin in Vadodara is an IIT graduate, who had cleared IPS?

The top 20 lists this year had five more engineers. All those must be brilliant and could have become innovators or the managers in the fields of their expertise. Is not the lust of perks and premium of civil services, that starts from dowry (culminating in some deaths too) and goes to much talked about purses (more popularly known as corruption), make them go for it?

According to a study of recruits between 1998 and 2003, 29.5% of the appointees were graduate engineers, and some were even post-graduates. And with whom these engineers compete throughout the career? Mostly, they compete with graduate and postgraduates in arts who constituted the maximum of 34.1% in the study of the recruits. Why should then they go for engineering at the first instance?

Most of these engineering graduates must be from the tier I and tier II colleges, as IITians and graduates of some few colleges fetch very high salary already or they prefer doing MBA from IIMs or ISB. However, it requires a study to confirm. The rest of engineers going for IAS wasted money and time in making themselves compete the entrance examinations, the years of engineering colleges, and the number of years they kept on attempting to get finally selected as IAS. I remember during my HM days a mechanical engineering graduate of the reputed Roorkee Engineering College coming to me after six years of graduation when he exhausted all his chances for civil service examination for an interview of graduate engineer trainee. He had not only lost the years wasted in his endeavour but lost the years of seniority and experience in industry too. Even as per the news report, one candidate coming in the top 20 this year took nine attempts to get appointment to the service. There must be many more in the whole lists who would have taken many attempts. Do they deserve the same ranking and remunerations as the ones who clear the examination in the first attempt?

Surprisingly, the number of doctors, lawyers, and MBA appearing for the union services is insignificant. Should we conclude that the glamour of IAS positions don’t attract them?
Should not the engineers with booming Indian economy take lessons from doctors or lawyers? After all they will very soon be part of the same bureaucracy that is considered most corrupt and inefficient only mastering the creation of a virus called ‘red tape’ in the administrative system. Or will the engineers with their educational background help re-engineering the system and structure for fast and innovative implementation of projects to alleviate the poverty of millions in the country?

My Choicest Readings on April 19,2007

1. V V: Scalpel stories
2. Aditi Phadnis: Will Mayawati deliver?
3. A President of our own
4. 17 Indian American students among 141 presidential scholars

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