Engineers And Bankers – You Can Be The New Climate Activists That India Needs

20th February, 2017

Everyone is, or ideally should be, a climate activist; if not the out-on-the-streets-shouting-slogans type, at least the kind who is aware and advocates the need for addressing the issue of climate change. This however is not the current reality in our country where most people fall in distinct socio-economic classes and are on a rat-race for survival. To preach activism and climate change to this lot is definitely a dead pitch.

Yet, you encounter amazing statistics that make you hopeful of an underlying opportunity in India’s engineering and B-school graduates. Numbers show that India rolls out about a million students per year from various engineering and polytechnic colleges, and 4-5 lakh graduates from various B-schools including the IIMs. Out of this numbers, hardly 10-40 % are employed in proper pay jobs with any relation to their field. What the rest do is not much of a mystery.

Thanks to the trend of engineering students being fed up of the field being shoved down their heads and wanting to indulge their creative sides, as well as our mediocre education system, everyone wants to be a Chetan Bhagat now. While whether that is a good or bad call is a judgment I’d keep away from making, the fact is a lot of talent is being untapped or lured away into other menial every-day distractions.

We need writers and we need artists, but that is why there are some of us who go against the set norms and join places that train us to better in the fields we want to. If every engineer decides to give up their training and join these sectors, we are depriving trained personnel from their right to get employed at where they strived to be in. This is not the survival of the fittest.

Coming to the original theme of this rant is however quite different from the debate that I might have stirred up from the idea above. India’s current climate change stance is dictated by two main agendas – development and energy sector. That is quite an opportunity for young engineers and MBAs if they are actually passionate about making a difference in today’s world. How? Here’s the thought.

In spite of all the technology revolution, India’s power projects are still mostly conventional with excess pressure on generating power to satisfy electorates and zero focus on the environmental or landscape deterioration it causes. In one of my interviews with a senior engineer from the department of Power in a landslide prone state with over 60 upcoming hydropower projects, he points out how engineers are engineered to just build what the government asks of them; what happens to the ecology or the climate as a result is not their business.

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