Happy Engineers’ Day Engineers for a self reliant India

Er N Shyamsundar Singh, FIE
Although it is a hard earned honour, the political independence alone cannot fetch the real charm and taste of total independence. Technically, political independence of any country is a pre-requisite foundation on which it can initiate nation building that leads to the much desired economic and technological independence. When the country rests on top of these three props, it attains stability, self-reliance and independence too. Keeping this reality in mind, India, a fast developing country, is now focusing its attention fully on economic and technological independence. In simple terms, it is determined to become a Self Reliant India in the next couple of years.
    In India, Five Year Plans and other economic policies that were formulated based on the philosophy of Self Reliance right after the independence, indicate approaches, targets and other strategies which would essentially guide and help the development efforts made by the Central and State Governments. The ambition however came to lime light only in Fifth Five Year Plan. Since then, the economic planners and decision makers of India have been burning midnight oil to do permutation and combination of all possible economic options taking into consideration all kinds of resources and opportunities available in the country in order to opt and formalise the best one that ensures speedy growth of the economy and enables the nation to attend economic and technological independence.
    Technology is generally known as the study or use of industrial skills and applied sciences for better performance. On the other hand, engineering is practicing science that converts resources into materials and products that ultimately propel growth of economy and enhance development. Therefore, it is a fact that any kind of technology is based on certain engineering and behind the engineering there is always an engineer at least. Thus, the typical job of developing technologies and translating the scientific thoughts into practical reality and making them efficient, user friendly, cost effective and time saving, is done exclusively by the engineers. By and large, the engineering community has been concentrating on the development of various kinds of technologies as a sole facilitator to render relentless service to every sector – be it Agriculture, Communication, Defence, Energy, Industries, Information Technology, Minerals, Space and other social infrastructures like Building, Education, Health Care, Public Health, Roads, Sports, Transport and Tourism etc. Precisely, technological intervention is the buzz word everywhere and it enables each of these sectors to take a paradigm shift in terms of performance, production and pace. Integration of technologies has also been successfully done in order to ensure ease of doing business wherever necessary.
    Meanwhile, Self Reliant Movement, a reformist vision for the future of India, has already started a revolution in the profession of all the professionals of various cultures, manufactures and services. When all these promoters, developers and investors of different grades and ventures are well motivated and provided with ample supports for a quantum jump, the engineers who normally stride ahead of them with the good intention to help them in their endeavour to achieve envisaged targets, shall also need to move faster and lead the way towards better performance, higher productivity and safety as usual.
    Keeping this objective in mind, India has also launched out new technical initiatives like Skill Development (Precisely Re-Skill and Up-Skill) and Start Up couple of years back. With the advent of the movement, “Make in India” a welcome emphasis in foreign investment policy on efficient and competitive domestic manufacturing and employment generation, has been changed to “Make in India Make for World”. Similarly, the development of all kinds has been redefined and renamed as Sustainable Development after taking into consideration the impacts of environmental degradation, global warming, soil health deterioration and host of other ecological problems that stretch the natural resources to precarious levels. It is likely that Start Up also changes to Speed Up. These additions/changes seem to have a very simple literary meaning. But what is required and often difficult, is its effective and meaningful translation into practice.   
Moreover, the emerging trend in service sector demands that specialization in one field is not good enough for future jobs. One needs to be a multi-skilled partner. For instance, one cannot understand renewable energy without understanding economics, engineering, physics, earth science, life science etc. Similarly, Environmentalists also need to have at least working knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, Hydrology, Earth Science, Life Science, etc. These facts call for Multidisciplinary Education. The other burning issues confronting the world in this knowledge era relate to growing inequalities, knowledge divide and social degradation etc. Engineers shall be required to study these problems from societal engineering points of view and create a solution that ensures rapid recovery, reconstitution and rehabilitation. It fulfils the criteria for inclusive growth i.e. social growth, economic growth and cultural growth of all communities.
    Therefore, Engineers’ perspective needs to be holistic and for that they need to improve their powers of perception through dedicated practical training i.e. Research and Development in the design and manufacture of high quality, energy efficient, eco-friendly, cost effective and sustainable products, rather than focusing on publications. However, as the R & D is a capital intensive activity, the young engineers and the work force may need adequate capital support and logistics from the industries.
    Lastly, quality is the essence of knowledge, art and culture. The global practice is that the design of any item embodies the quality that would attract the traders and the users across the globe. Therefore, to achieve these national aspirations and societal expectations, Indian engineering community should have the following additional attributes – technically competent, innovative and entrepreneurial, commercially competitive, multidisciplinary and multi-lingual, culturally aware, knowledge of both domestic and world markets and professionally flexible and mobile. From local to global is a long journey and the target is little too far, however, the young talented engineers of India shall make it short and achieve the target – a Self Reliant India within an optimum time. The writer is Chairman, The Institution of Engineers, Manipur State Centre