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Business News/ Companies / People/  Engineers should focus on engineering & design jobs

Engineers should focus on engineering & design jobs

We need to move fast to ensure our products have India inside and out. To see that kind of change happening, we need to deepen R&D and make our engineers think more about hardware than software

Photo: AFPPremium
Photo: AFP

Engineers have often been lured by the tried and tested software jobs, that land them with fancy salaries and opportunities to work with reputed companies of the world. And that is just a fine way of thinking, but the times they are a changing, and the intelligent mind would look to adapt and see which way the wind is blowing.

Around 44% of the population in India is aged between 18 and 25, which makes us the largest young workforce anywhere in the world.

India is also the fastest-growing R&D services export hub, as per the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It mentions that India is the leading R&D investor among developing countries if China, the world’s second-largest investor in R&D after the US, is excluded from the list. India’s exports in December 2021 surged 38.91% on an annual basis to $37.81 billion due to the contribution of sectors such as engineering, textiles and chemicals.

We have remained a top outsourcing destination for businesses across the world, and despite the pandemic, are second on Tholons Top 50 Digital Nations list for 2021.

We have a lot going for us, and the changing geo-politics and the change in the global supply systems are in our favour too.

The earlier way of working was that most companies including the US, Europe or even in India, would go to China, which had joined hands with Taiwan and Vietnam, and get these companies located there to design products.

China’s zero-covid policies forced many companies to shut shop. Moreover, the pandemic has made all nations think for themselves. It’s a reverse globalization happening. In this situation, I have been reiterating, we need to build faster capabilities in design and manufacturing.

We need to move fast to ensure our products have India inside and out. To see that kind of change happening, we need to deepen R&D and make our engineers think more about hardware than software.

We know how to integrate software into hardware. There should be no need now for Usha and Havells, and other Indian companies, to go to China to design their products.

Students should realize that you don’t do engineering to just become coders. When you study engineering, you are capable of innovating. The way IIT Kanpur Ventilator Consortium assisted Noccarc Robotics, a young start-up, in building affordable high-quality ventilators, in the peak of the pandemic, is an example of the kind of possibilities that India needs.

By building our own MedTech or drone products, for example, we reduce the import bill, and make products that no outside agency can spy on.

That’s how we build resilience, and that’s the whole impetus of Atmanirbharta, Make in India, Digital India, Start-up India and so on.

Now work scenarios have undergone a huge change too, and we are adapting to fresh ways of working. Today many youngsters are choosing to have side gigs and corporates are thinking of how to adapt to this new trend.

Eventually things will even out and one could be working over here as an engineering entrepreneur and doing products for many companies globally.

If you rise above the stereotypes, you will be able to carve out your niche with tech and expertise on your side.

In the book “The 86 Percent Solution: How to Succeed in the Biggest Market Opportunity of the Next 50 Years", by Vijay Mahajan and Kamini Banga, the authors argue that 86% of the world’s population sits in India, Africa, Middle East, China and rest of Asia.

That’s our opportunity. How can Americans and Europeans make products for the 86% of the world, because, inherently, they don’t understand this market.

They understand the 14% of the world which is advanced. But today, this 86% is a big opportunity area.

In welfare access, in climate resilience, in EVs, in security and defence, in the consumer durables market, there’s a big zone of opportunity that awaits Indian engineering and manufacturing capabilities.

I also recommend young Indian engineers to veer away from the “nerd" tag and enjoy a variety of interests, in music, literature, art, or whatever.

That’s a good way to remain efficient, energized, and involved with the real world.

Ajai Chowdhry is the Chairman of Epic Foundation and Founder, HCL.

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Updated: 31 Jan 2023, 09:25 PM IST
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