Meera Siva [email protected]

Research Analyst, with a mandate to cover real estate, but often strays into imaginary castles in the air. Women and finance is another of my interests, being a woman and all. I believe in rebirth and evolution into a higher life form (ala journalist).

Meera Siva

Why not teach skills that 'pay'?

| Updated on March 09, 2018 Published on May 29, 2013

May be it is time we teach how to operate in shadow economy

With board mark-sheet on hand, eager students and their anxious parents are now wondering about the best course to enrol. Are the heady days of computer science engineering days over? Should one directly enrol in CA? Is IAS gaining in stature now and what degree is ideal to prepare for the exam?

Degrees of unemployment

Frankly, no one is studying for knowledge sake anymore and the purpose of a degree is to get a job. With the soaring cost of education, one needs to do the math on what yields the highest return on investment before plopping lakhs of rupees and pledging three to six years of one’s time into a degree program.

Neither is the statistics on unemployment comforting to college entrants - 9.4 per cent of graduates and 10 per cent of post-graduates do not have a job, compared to only 1.2 per cent unemployment among illiterates.

Training in new skills

Colleges currently do ‘help’ students get job placement by allegedly paying-off companies to make offers. This was hush-hush in the past and lately students have come to ‘demand’ such campus placements as their ‘right'.

I feel that this is not a 'sustainable' model and colleges should seriously consider introducing new streams of specialisation with a view on financial rewards. As colleges may need some help in coming up with new courses that would leave their students richer, I did some thinking for them.

Considering the fact that corruption is what is booming, bubbling, bustling in the country, I suggest colleges can teach the modus-operandi of this ‘essential’ skill!

Be it financial institutions, electricity office, railway ministry or your cricket game, you cannot get-by without knowing how to give and get kick-backs and importantly, without being caught. We teach financial literacy but why shy away from shadow-financial literacy? Below are a few unsolicited but detailed ideas for new courses.

Degrees of (in) corruption

Colleges can consider starting a Bachelor of Corruption Networking (BCN) to teach various aspects of knowing and getting into the vast and complicated network system essential for operation. For example, which relatives of ministers are reliable and who may land us in jail? Who are the corporate lobbyists and how do we become their Facebook friends? The course can also cover how to track shifts in the power of various factions and have electives covering various branches such as sports betting, laundering network and military contracts.

Bachelor of Corruption Administration (BCA) degree can cover managing the various levels involved in the network and setting up policies on recruiting, promotion, commission raise. As marketing cannot be done (yet) by front-page ads or banners, one needs to be taught ingenious ways to keep the inflows of requests and maintain high margins for rates. Communication is quite important and teaching cryptic messaging on phone, various degrees of denial when questioned are crucial. Devising various gestures is also gaining prominence in the sports circles.

Bachelor of Corruption Financing (BCF) degree should be focussed on all aspects of money management in the shadow system, starting with a 2G case study on why cheques are bad. Analysis of how to decide if the finances should be channelled into Sahara or Saradha or a new scheme should be started, does one need to tap the local bank money laundering methods or should one opt for Swiss Bank.

Interim Choice

Students who may be enrolling this year and hence missing out on these fictional courses need not lose heart! They can equip themselves through self-study on these topics. Things are easy nowadays and an internship at any public sector offices, sub-registrar’s office or financial institutions may give hands-on training.

A note of caution - these skills may be viewed as a handicap outside the country and one also needs to know how to subtly present these skills on their resume. And the fine print is that past and projected future rewards of this skill aside, there is still some risk, as corruption is not yet legalised.

(The views are that of the author’s inner demon. Colleges are however free to follow-up on these ideas and no kick-back is needed.)

Published on May 29, 2013
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