IN today’s system of higher education in India, we seem to have ignored such ideas and concepts. Young people generally opt for courses that will ensure a rewarding career. Money is the ultimate determinant. In taking up such courses, students pay scant attention to their own likes and dislikes, their inclinations and capabilities. Till recently, medicine and engineering were the top courses in demand. A medical course is now considered to be expensive and prolonged, with no guarantee of an immediate payback. Because it takes time to settle down as a doctor, more and more students are going in for computer engineering, information technology, management, animation and gaming. These subjects ensure remunerative jobs on graduation.No wonder the traditional arts and science courses have no takers. Students do not want to go in for pure sciences and mathematics. A leading scientist, CNR Rao, has drawn attention to this phenomenon. He has warned that if this goes on, there will be no “science teachers”. This can lead to disastrous consequences not least because science is the foundation of technology and without a sound foundation of science no country can progress. Scientific research can come to a standstill.
In the past month, I have got six emails from students in their final year of their undergraduate program asking me precisely the same question, "If I join IIT/IISc as a student, can I mint money after graduation?" The word used was "mint" and not make enough. I was tempted to reply, "The only way to mint money in India is to join the currency printing press in Nasik."
Seriously, any middle class family person needs to have a job with reasonable security and looks for education as an avenue to get it. As long as a degree in sciences does not promise the same, lesser number of people will take it even if there are several scholarships for studying science. In my opinion, the only to attract people to study science is to ensure a lucrative career after graduation.