The Asian Age | Jul 24, 2016 | Bhavana Akella |
An engineer with his roots in Chennai, Adhitya Iyer, has travelled across India to uncover heart-wrenching tales of engineers
We’re not sure whether or not it is a matter of pride that India produces more engineers than the global giants — US and China put together — but it is certainly a point to ponder that at least one in every 20 engineers in this country contemplate suicide. Author Adhitya Iyer is all of 27, but has travelled throughout the country, not as a typical selfie-clicking tourist, but gathering stories of such frustrated engineers in the country and the millions of students in the country locked behind coaching centres’ doors, contemplating becoming engineers. With his roots in Chennai, Adhitya, an engineer himself has turned into a storyteller with his first title — The Great Indian Obsession: The Untold Story of India’s Engineers, published by Chennai’s Notion Press. Adithya’s book, interestingly, also happens to be the highest crowdfunded book in the country and the 6th largest in Asia — where netizens on Kickstarter helped him raise $14,000 to embark on this revealing journey. “I must say there is no deadlier terrorist organisation than the Indian education system. It is capable of making hundreds of students kill themselves. It worries me that the situation is so bad and so little is realised about the seriousness of the state of India’s education. It’s like an elephant in the room. The obsession with engineering is extreme in this country,” elaborates Adhitya, who has been living in Mumbai for years now.
“I spent a part of my childhood in Saudi Arabia, and later my parents decided to move to India, as the perception is that the education in India is better. I took up engineering, like many did but soon realised I couldn’t be happy with a career in the field. So, I started a T-shirt start-up named ‘Annanymous’ in Mumbai, which was ranked as one of the top start-ups in the country by SSN in Chennai. Later, I sold chai, as a part of a start-up Chai Point in Bengaluru — and this was when I met many engineers who led a rather frustrated life, some with thoughts of suicide. I realised this was a story to be told and decided to take a journey to gather more such stories,” Adhitya explains on his reason to write this tale of engineers. But to allow himself to travel the country and write the book with real stories from across the country, he decided he would raise money through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, where he received a whopping $14,000 in a month and immense support for his project. “The crowdfunding itself was a nail-biter, as we raised a large amount of money only during the last few days. Then I travelled to all the coaching centres, IITs and IIMs and spoke to many. I had a lot of emotional highs and lows in the journey but it was the most significant thing in life. I knew the response to the book even before I launched it through crowdfunding,” he remarks. The coaching centres in Telangana, Rajasthan’s Kota and Andhra Pradesh were terrifying, but Tamil Nadu is a very progressive in its education ways, he tells us. “I hope the story reaches the government and something can change for better,” the author concludes. – Courtesy