Once upon a time people who owned land cultivated rice, wheat, jowar and bajra. Then they discovered a new cash crop. They started cultivating engineers. The first requirement of an engineering college is a building. If you have the budget, do put marble in the lobby. Air-condition the classrooms. Orange and yellow benches in the canteen. Bhai, dekhne mein acchha lagta hai! Now you need to do naamkaran. If the college is laundering black money for the local MP, simply use his name. Another good option is a hitech-sounding name like ‘Hi Tech College of Engineering’.
As per AICTE rules, kuch teacher log bhi chahiye. In every varsity there are a few good-for-nothings who have spent many years trying to get a PhD...and finally succeeded. Ask them to come and warm a chair in the college. Okay, your college is now ready to admit students. The good news is you have a super-large pool of nerds who don’t think there is any future in the arts, science, commerce, fashion design or reading tarot cards. Ek time tha when eager parents pushed only their male children towards this teenage sanyaas. In the spirit of equality, some parents now encourage their female children to pursue this joyless path too. Consequently like the tiger population in India, the rare species of girls in IIT has gone up by a few percentage points.
Now engineering was originally about learning how to build bridges, work with machines and run factories. Luckily, now it is all about typing speed on the computer. Girls have always been good typists so naturally you will see them in streams like computer science and IT.
Now back to our local air-conditionwala local engineering college. This is where you will find girls, lot of girls, 30-50 per cent of the student population, to be precise. The girls can broadly be classified into two types:
- Kaam ke liye engineers: They are sure they want to work after graduation.
- Naam ke liye engineers: They are sure parents will not allow them to work after graduation.
Many naam ke liye girl engineers get an opportunity to work in nice software companies while their parents search for suitable grooms. Come shaadi season and these birds migrate to New Jersey, Texas, Santa Clara and San Jose.
A lucky few find liberation in foreign lands—a license to work, study further, wear tight jeans.... You see, the husband is broad-minded. The unlucky ones marry average Indian blokes who don’t care a hoot what degree the wife is wasting, as long as the sambar is nice tasting. These BTechs can be classified into 2 types:
- Domestic engineers: Girls who are happy to be homemakers. They see ++ in every Indian recipe they learn from YouTube.
- Frustrated engineers: Girls who would rather work but visa status and vegetarian ‘hot chapati’ husband have screwed their ambitions.
You see, in Amarika, the only affordable naukrani is an educated Indian woman.
That brings us full circle, to the small tribe of working girls. Fiercely determined, hardworking and professional—yet even they often get derailed. Because the work life equation is always balanced by the female co-efficient. Juggling clients and nannies, traffic and tonsils is the woman’s ultimate engineering feat.
(Rashmi Bansal is a best-selling author and not an engineer. www.facebook.com/rashmibansal.)