The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Safety steers medical study
- Cloud over tech job future turns JEE tables

First came the reports of the campus interview leftovers. Then, the horror stories crept closer, entering the neighbourhood; there was this neighbour’s son who was without a job despite graduating from the best engineering college in town. Finally, the tragic tales invaded the home; the elder brother and without-a-job engineer.

Now comes the fallout — some of our best science-studying brains are steering clear of the computer and going for the stethoscope, reversing a go-for-engineering trend that began a while ago and showed little signs of a slowdown.

The ‘safety-first’ move away from engineering to a degree in medicine, has picked up pace, with many aspirants giving up berths in coveted engineering streams only to try their luck in next year’s Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for medical-college entry.

Take Sraboni Mahapatra (name changed on request). When she landed herself a seat in the computer class of BE College, she was elated. Elation, however, changed to nervousness — “about an uncertain future” — soon after she joined college. “My seniors gave me a long list of elders who, after missing the campus-interview bus, were knocking in vain on the doors of firms for salaries no one touched a few years back,” said Sraboni.

A year later, Sraboni was back to her JEE preparatory books. She competed for both the engineering and medical seats (unlike the first time, when she didn’t sit for the medical test). She got through both but didn’t think twice before booking the medical college berth. The Burdwan Medical College student now feels more secure about the future. “Even if I don’t land a job, I can still continue my practice,” she explained.

Sraboni is not alone. Anshumitra Banerjee, for one, ranked much higher in the engineering entrance exam (88th) than in the medical test (187th). “That’s very easy to explain. I always dreamt of being an engineer,” said the Malda girl, now a student of Nilratan Sirkar Medical College. “But I have come across so many examples of engineering graduates without jobs that I chose medicine. The choice was difficult, as I could have got into almost any stream in any engineering college.”

What Anshumitra had heard about, Abhijan Maiti had seen at home. Brother Anirban passed instrumentation engineering two years ago and was still looking for “any job”.

“I have also seen engineering graduates from much better streams being paid no more than Rs 8,000,” Abhijan said, explaining why the decision to study medicine was so easy.

Tanay Maiti, a Medical College and Hospital student, could have joined Jadavpur University if he had wanted. But, as mother Maya Maiti explained, engineering was a no-go. “In our neighbourhood, there are at least two very recent engineering college pass-outs without jobs,” she said. “Tanay always wanted to become a doctor but I don’t think the choice would have been so easy had not the software engineering boom gone bust.”

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