Rediscovering the Calm Appeal of the Academic World

28 02 2009

The world view of students, parents and teachers was very different in India till the early 80’s

For example:


1. The salary disparities were not so pronounced between people employed in the corporate and the academic worlds


2. The concept of choices was almost non-existent in the consumerist sense. If a family had a car it was an Ambassador or a Fiat. Even in branded apparels there were not too many choose from. More money didn’t  necessarily come with more avenues of spending. That somewhat allayed the sense of deprivation among the teaching communities.

Today; even the best of professors in the top ranked engineering colleges and management institutes don’t take home even 30 % of the salaries that middle management executives get in Corporate India.

Undoubtedly, there are a number of sincere and competent teachers in our country who have chosen their profession consciously without attaching much importance to monetary considerations.

 However, at the aggregate level, it is clear that lack of financial incentive has taken a toll on quality of the teaching in the Indian education system

Coming back to the corporate world in India, much of the astronomical pay packets can be ascribed to two broad reasons:

1.      One can get a higher pay packet by virtue of being in a booming industry sector

2.      Or, for handling target- pressures and unreasonable deadlines (which have less to do with knowledge and intellectual wherewithal and more to do with the ability to handle stress)

Today, we know less and less of what really governs and can affect our lives. A glaring example of this navigating in the dark  is the bankruptcy of the 148 year old company like Lehman Brothers which even in the  current year hired a management graduate from IIM Calcutta of  a pay packet of over Rs 10 million per annum. Do we really know how far the impact of the virtual world of finance, sub-primes and leveraging on the real world of manufacturing, selling and consumption can go? Have their effects been played out completely? Is there more to come? What a world of uncertainties we’re living in!

Do the relatively greater sense of serenity and certainty prevailing in academic climes in the current situation increase the viability of an academic career as an alternative to the knowledgeable and  thoughtful among the corporate gentry? I would like to think so.

– Venkat Subramaniam  

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