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Ctrl-Alt-Stall: Indian engineers struggle for work as jobs crisis worsens

Updated : March 12, 2019 01:58 PM IST

Santosh Gurav gained a bachelor's degree in technology from a mid-tier college in the western part of the country last year, specialising in electrical engineering and hoping to land a job in industrial automation.

Six months on, the 27-year-old repairs mixer-grinders, table fans and other household appliances at a cramped shop in Pune. On better days, he picks up broken LED lights from scrap dealers, fixes them, then sells them. He earns about $50 a month, just enough to cover the rent for the room he shares with two others as his home.

"I haven't even started repaying my education loan," said Gurav, referring to the nearly $4,000 he'd borrowed for his undergraduate study.

He is one of hundreds of thousands of engineers - studying everything from computer code to civil engineering - that the country's education system churns out each year, many with large loans and little prospect of finding a job in their field.

They highlight Prime Minister Narendra Modi's difficulty in fulfilling a promise he made weeks after coming to power in 2014: creating millions of jobs by boosting manufacturing under a flagship 'Make in India' project launched with much fanfare.

"Come, Make in India, we will say to the world, from electrical to electronics," Modi said in his maiden Independence Day speech as prime minister, pledging to create up to 100 million new jobs by 2022.

Job seekers fill up their forms while sitting on swings before lining up for interviews at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers fill up their forms while sitting on swings before lining up for interviews at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers fill up forms as others line up for registration during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers fill up forms as others line up for registration during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers line up for interviews at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers line up for interviews at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
A job seeker is interviewed by human resource managers at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
A job seeker is interviewed by human resource managers at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Gayatri, a 24-year-old Master of Engineering (M.E) graduate who has been unemployed for four months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Gayatri, a 24-year-old Master of Engineering (M.E) graduate who has been unemployed for four months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. "I don’t want to sit at home. I want to find a job that suits my capabilities."
Vikas Kamble, a 27-year-old fitter who has been unemployed for six months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Vikas Kamble, a 27-year-old fitter who has been unemployed for six months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. "I was told that if I did this course then there would many opportunities in the industrial sector. If there is one opening then there are at least 50 trained fitters like me for applying for it." REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Kajal Ithape, a 25-year-old Master of Commerce (M. Com.) who has been unemployed for six months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Kajal Ithape, a 25-year-old Master of Commerce (M. Com.) who has been unemployed for six months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. "I had to leave my job as I wanted to take leave for one year after I had a baby. I have been trying to look for an accountant job for the last 6 months but without any luck." REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Rahul Dandwate, a 26-year-old Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) graduate who has been unemployed for one year poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Rahul Dandwate, a 26-year-old Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) graduate who has been unemployed for one year poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. "Companies come up with jobs but the salary is very low or they don’t want to pay every month. They try to take advantage of so many jobless youngsters by offering a low salary." REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers line up for interviews at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers line up for interviews at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Ashwani Khabale, a 21-year-old Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.) who has been unemployed for one year poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Ashwani Khabale, a 21-year-old Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.) who has been unemployed for one year poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. "I invested 4 years of life in becoming an engineer but the last one year has been just wasted in looking for jobs. There are so many engineers at every job interview." REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Mandar Gosavi, a 38-year-old Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) graduate who has been unemployed for three months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Mandar Gosavi, a 38-year-old Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) graduate who has been unemployed for three months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. "I was taking orders from clients, mainly automotive giants. The market has come down. Order volume was very high a few years back, but these days it has come down. I was fired from there. I apply for 10-15 jobs online daily. I have appeared for interviews for 7-8 jobs." REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Tejaswini Shelake, a 23-year-old Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) graduate who has been unemployed for four months poses before an interview at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Tejaswini Shelake, a 23-year-old Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) graduate who has been unemployed for four months poses before an interview at a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019."My father has 19 acres of land. But I don’t want to get into farming. I want to have a better life. My mother works at the farm along with my father back in the village." REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Pankaj Kumbhakarn, a 27-year-old Master of Computer Science (MCS) graduate who has been unemployed for one year poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Pankaj Kumbhakarn, a 27-year-old Master of Computer Science (MCS) graduate who has been unemployed for one year poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. "These days I am very depressed. Now my age of learning is also passing by. I need to get a job. Each and every day is difficult to pass." REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Santosh Gurav, a 27-year-old Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.) who has been unemployed for six months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019.
Santosh Gurav, a 27-year-old Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.) who has been unemployed for six months poses during a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. "I have over Rs. 70,000 of education loans from my engineering degree. Many people who did this degree are jobless. There are many graduates and few jobs." REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers line up outside the venue of a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
Job seekers line up outside the venue of a job fair in Chinchwad, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files
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