Wednesday, July 20, 2005


This report is interesting: NASSCOM is working with AICTE in developing UG curriculum in the areas of interest to the former (computer science, electronics and electrical engineering, information technology). This may force CII to get into the act for other areas, such as mechanical, civil and chemical engineering.

I have nothing against such a collaboration; in fact, if it is anything like what Kiran Karnik (the president of NASSCOM) himself has articulated in a recent Hindu op-ed, it may actually be a good thing. But, it is also clear that Karnik is aware of the problems with this approach:

However, it is important not to convert professional education into polytechnic training: the former must focus on building a strong conceptual foundation, so that in a world of rapidly changing technology, the graduate can master new developments. The ability of learning how to learn is an essential part of good education. [emphasis added by me]

The fear, therefore, is that this sort of collaboration between NASSCOM and AICTE may lead to diluting the curriculum to the level of that of polytechnics. Industry, with its short term focus, may end up asking for short term fixes, which may not be good in the long term. Karnik may believe in lofty ideals, but others may not.

Update (27.8.2005): This report in the Economic Times dated 25 August 2005 indicates that such a test is being planned, not for IT companies, but for BPO companies.

IMO, a much better option for NASSCOM is to conduct a common examination for all graduates, several times a year, if necessary; the results of such an examination can be used by NASSCOM members for recruitment. There is an important benefit to the organization's members: they don't have to conduct tests, which are just a first-level filtering mechanism. The job applicants benefit, too: they can just take one set of exams -- different aptitutde tests, tests of proficiency in their chosen fields, and any other tests that the NASSCOM members might want. They may also be allowed to take this test multiple number of times, if they want -- a la GRE.

Where is the connection with AICTE's efforts at curriculum development? The common examination conducted by NASSCOM serves as a a timely indicator of what the industry really wants from its fresh recruits. This can then be used by AICTE for modifying that part of the curriculum that is tailored to industry's needs.

This clean separation has other benefits, as well. It will ensure that NASSCOM will not be blamed if, several years later, the curriculum is found to be deficient in some way. AICTE will also not be blamed for being under the influence of an industry lobby. These are real concerns in our country, where regulatory bodies have a poor record of fairness and independence.


  1. Anonymous said...

    A standardized test does exist....GATE, and suchlike....but they are largely archaic and useless. Your suggestion would really work well, in both figuring out industry demands, as well as being independent. It's a good suggestion....