Kaustav Jana was returning to Kolkata after a long four years following the completion of his studies in Bangalore. He could have applied to any of the engineering colleges in Bengal but somehow, the day he decided to study engineering, he decided to move out of Bengal.
Why would you migrate out of Bengal which is considered to be the home of reputed engineering colleges, I asked. His answer compelled me to ponder over the present state of education.
“For the past few years Bengal seems to be caught in the labyrinth of archaic laws and infrastructure. It hasn’t got anything right – be it politically or economically. The undergraduate engineering course doesn’t breed a favourable environment for campus placement. Compared to this, in Bangalore, which is the country's software capital, my chances of getting placed in a good firm are sure,” said Kaustav, a final year student of the Reva Institute of Technology and Management.
Bengal’s famous creative spirit seems to have waned.Political fiascoes and economic stagnation have fuelled a brain drain in the state, diminishing both leadership and imagination. The State Government recently declared its intention of making Kolkata the cultural capital of the country instead of engaging upgrading its economy and mitigating its amplified issue of unemployment. This has left most of the aspiring students feeling stranded and bereft.
“The job market in West Bengal has fallen badly and I am left with no choice but to venture out of Bengal in search of a job. Due to low job recruitment (even private ones), students have stopped getting admitted to colleges which has led to the closing down of many departments,” said a fourth year student of electrical engineering at the College of Engineering and Management, Kolaghat. There was a time when the grandeur of universities like Presidency, Calcutta, and Jadavpur, and Calcutta Medical College was known in every niche and corner of the country. Students poured into the state just to get a taste of knowledge in these institutions. It was a dream to get placed in these universities, not forgetting that other distinguished institution, IIT Kharagpur.
But now, high salaries, vibrant job opportunities and a luxurious lifestyle away from the shackles of poverty and uncertainty where even a talented person cannot get a job are the key reasons why students of Bengal are seeking new pastures in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai.
According to a senior teacher, “It is the backdated syllabi, the lackadaisical behaviour to upgrade their facilities by inducting more subjects and providing scope to students to study these subjects have led to migration from the state.”
Reiterating this, Subhoshree Sil, a law student of Delhi University and an IAS aspirant said: “One doesn’t find a reputed law college providing for a three-year LLB course and that is why I moved to Delhi for better educational exposure. Also, it is only in Delhi one finds the necessary academic amenities for my future IAS preparation.”
This “brain drain” set in motion by the currents of globalisation may have been reversed for India but it has gained momentum for the state with each passing year. Bengal of the bygone era now appears to be a mere illusion to many students and therefore there is a mass exodus.
It will perhaps take another decade of proper painstaking planning and execution to reverse the trend.