Great Nations are indeed built in fields and factories

by | Sep 15, 2020

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This blog coincides with Engineer’s Day. Every year, September 15 in India is observed, if not really celebrated, as Engineer’s Day as a tribute to Bharat Ratna Sir M. Visvesvaraya (1860-1962) on his birthday. I had fond memories of celebrating it at the GB Pant University in the early 1970s. For the engineering students in the University, it used to be like a festival. Hostels, especially Hostel No. 5, were decorated with lights, a special dinner was made, and a slew of programs were organized for a fortnight starting September 1. A sense of pride was instilled in young minds that they were going to be important people. 

When I joined DRDO in 1982, I found my designation awkward. Everyone in the organization was called and continues to be called “Scientist” and not “Engineer.” I worked under the towering leadership of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and continued to live in my own bubble of feeling important about doing some great work. This idealism led me to the indigenous development of medical devices. Inspired by the Chitra Heart Valve made by Dr M.S. Valiathan at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology and productionized by TTK, guided by cardiologist Dr B. Soma Raju, we succeeded in making an indigenous coronary stent in the early 1990s, by developing Delta-free 316L stainless steel alloy at DRDO. It was reverentially called the “Kalam-Raju stent.” 

And then I realized the system that was loaded in favor of supply chains rather than making things in India. Between producer and user, there are multiple gateways, each collecting its own toll fee. In the Y2K rush, the dot.com boom and bust, and China dumping whatever India needed at “China Price” (something impossible to compete by fair play), I saw the aura of the engineering profession disappear. This became a trend when IIT graduates started entering IAS and business schools, in significant numbers. On the other hand, the opening of thousands of private engineering colleges, diluted engineering education to an extent that many colleges had to be later closed for want of fee-paying students. 

All this was not without costs. 

In 1978, the Indian GDP per capita was more than that of China. By 1991, China had reversed this. The shame of pawning gold to receive a billion-dollar loan led to economic reforms, which were used more for making money, naturally by those who had it, and India turned itself an importer for everything – every home had bought a TV, fridge, washing machine coming from abroad. Then came cars and finally, mobile phones. The only thing we exported was our raw material – especially iron ore. A beautiful place like Goa was turned into mining pits. The red waste on the green lands seemed like savage wounds inflicted upon Mother Earth. And now, there is not even a comparison with China. In 2019, China’s GDP was 4.78 times higher than India’s. 

So, when on the 74th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for Atma Nirbhar Bharat, I saw an end to the long dark tunnel, which had appeared too long to end for a while. This call was made after some careful homework. After winning the elections in 2014, PM Modi did two things. First, he revived the Golden Quadrilateral Highway building project of Prime Minister Vajpayee and expanded it to connect all major ports and economic hubs with good roads. Second, he called for “Make in India” with an automaton lion as a logo. 

The fifty thousand-crore Setu Bharatam Project was rolled out to make highways free of railway crossings and overhaul 1,500 British-era bridges. Government-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is laying a 2000 kilometer LPG pipeline from the Kandla coast in Gujarat to Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Inland waterways are being developed on mighty rivers like Ganga, Brahmaputra and Mahanadi. Viable solar power has become a reality, and electricity from solar panels now costs less than that generated at thermal power plants. When PM Modi had pitched for “One Sun, One World, One Grid” at the first General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in October 2018, it was clear that India had woken up.

But then, the “Make in India” lion did not roar. Actually, it did not even prowl. The share of the manufacturing sector in India’s GDP had stagnated at around 15%, and remained there. In the larger industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, power and construction, the GDP contribution was stuck at around 26%-27%. Red-tape and corruption were rightly seen as important deterrents for entrepreneurs setting up their factories. India actually did well in upping its EDB (Ease of Doing Business) rank from 142 in 2014 to 77 in 2018. Most of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), required for key drugs, continued to come from China. Indian drug-makers, actually pioneers of the industry, turned to importing around 70% of their total bulk drug requirements from China.

We have a national mission of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, when India completes 75 years of independence. I am happy to see that engineers are finally getting involved with farmers. Last week, a long-standing friend and engineer, Venkat Kumar Tangrila, briefed me about the Wind-solar cold storage that he installed in Warangal. It can store three tons of tomatoes. I learned from him that a tomato crop gives five rounds of fruits over three months. Farmers make their money in selling the first two rounds. By the time the third round comes, it creates a supply glut, bringing down the price. The fourth and fifth rounds are sold, many times at no price. With cold storage right there in the field, every round is released into the market at a proper interval. The cold storage, running with 7.5 kW alternative energy, costs about Rs. 10 lakhs and earns back its cost in three years’ time. We need more of such works. Let engineers join hands with farmers. 

It is heartening to see Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai, and Arvind Krishna leading the world’s top three technology companies. India might have failed its engineers, but they did not fail their profession. I consider Sundar Pichai, 48 years old, thoughtful and incredibly kind, Chief Executive of Google since 2015, and promoted last December to lead parent Alphabet Inc., replacing the company co-founder Larry Page, as the modern-day Sir MV, and celebrate Engineer’s Day this year in his name. By next year this time, Chandrayaan-3 would have landed on the moon, transparent and rational flow of capital by technologically advanced banks and services would have recovered the economy, Tata’s electric car, Tigor, would be running 200 kilometers on a single charge and we will have many new engineering feats and engineer heroes to celebrate. 

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30 Comments

  1. Dear Arun sir, thank you so much for sharing a blog on Engineers!

    Though being an engineer myself; and someone who likes to read / write on various subjects, it is for the first time I am reading a blog on engineers! That itself shows how less these subject are being discussed! Thank you so much sharing such and amazing and insightful blog. Just sharing my thoughts and story on what I have seen since 2004 (Beginning of my Journey as Engineer) when I entered my college to study Aeronautical Engineering.

    In the first semester, our seniors told us that change the stream and either go in mechanical or IT engineering – because there are no jobs for aeronautical engineers in India. Many like me who came with a hope that we will have a bright career and will work on some amazing aircrafts in future – where drawn into questions! However, we continued! That year, I started reading the book “Wings of Fire” and noticed that even APL Abdul Kalam sir was an Aeronautical Engineer and he worked at DRDO and stood by LCA (Tejas) during its first flight, and is now a president of the nation! Wow! That gave some hope that if we are self-determined, we will have opportunities within India too! (Thanks Arun sir for writing such an inspiring book that gave us hope. Also, I would have never imagined that one day I would meet and have good relation with Arun Tiwari sir, the author of the book and inspirer!)

    During the third years, companies started coming for campus interview to our college. Mainly the IT giants only! We knew that there are not many private Aerospace companies in India and so no hopes for us to have an aerospace company coming to us! The only hopes were either we apply at DRDO, HAL, NAL, ISRO, defence sectors. We were surprised that the IT companies did let us sit in their aptitude test. They even hired a civil engineer in an IT company and the student who cleared the interviews accepted the offer as package was higher than any civil firm would offer!
    However, one company did appeared just to pick Aeronautical engineers in 2007! Yes! And I was one of the lucky ones out of 60 student’s batch to be selected in a French based private Aerospace company in Bangalore! Most the friends who managed to get big education loan, went abroad to do the masters and rest switched the profession.

    Then came the phase of landing in either Bangalore, Hyderabad or Chennai (The land of Software engineers and with a senior-junior culture of management in most of the companies!) Therefore, we as a beginner cannot use our creativity unless we find a real good leader who allows us to explore self. Everyone around looks out for 20% hike in appraisal and either switch the job who offer 30-40% hike. Mainly the service based IT companies. Even now, the things are same! I have seen many talented friends who could do great – are unable to grow! (Just my personal thought: If Sundar Pichai would have been in Bangalore today, he might have been a Project leader or Manager.)

    Fortunately, we do have major aerospace companies in Bangalore (Government and Private)! I had chance to work with HAL for a short while on Tejas project through a French based aerospace company. Within few days of working at HAL made me think deeply that why we do not have private aerospace companies in India!? Even though we have amazing talent, potential, great infrastructure and mammoth budget; why we still have to rely on government-type culture organization where we could have done more!

    I think it is high time India allows private indigenous engineering companies into aerospace sector before it is too late. We certainly as engineers have the potential to get correct thrust for Kaveri engine but we might need to wait for right management. Hopes and prayers on – for the day when we become “Atma-nirbhar” in true sense and built modern-tech fields and factories that will lead to be a Great Nation!

    Thank you so much Arun sir again for sharing this blog, which made me think a lot – and made me share my thoughts! Keep inspiring and guiding us!

  2. Your Engineer’s day blog embedding the aura of Engineering Profession is very stimulating, Prof Tiwariji!

    On this day let us celebrate the marvelous engineering feats of our Unsung Heroes for the technological advancement of the nation!!

  3. Sir, I would like to your excellent blog celebrating engineers the advent of educational technology (commonly abbreviated as EduTech). Came to mainstream dure to coronavirus restrictions of children not allowed to attend classes in person, EduTecch is the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning.

    We are working on a “Flipped classroom platform”. This is an instructional strategy in which computer-assisted teaching is integrated with classroom instruction. Students are given basic essential instruction, such as lectures, before class instead of during class. Instructional content is delivered outside of the classroom, often online. The out-of-class delivery includes streaming video, reading materials, online chats, and other resources. 

    The idea is to free up classroom time for teachers to more actively engage with learners.

  4. Thanks sir for the article. You have covered all the points in this blog. I just want to add a question. For how many years we will celebrate this fact that in all most top companies Indians are at top most position but none of the world top most company (especially technology driven) has came from INDIA. We have given great engineers but we have not given GOOGLE, FACRBOOK, TESLA.

    I guess we Indians need ELON MUSK now (with crazy ideas and fascinating imagination). We are nothing in technology driven research weather its agriculture, AI, biomedical etc. We may be talented, hard working but we all lack in most important thing i.e. “Taking Risk”. And worst part is our Institutes have also not inspired us in a good way to look forward to work on imagination. Although “HOPE FOR THE BEST” but we are lagging behind many big countries a lot and surely needs self introspection.

  5. Congratulation to you sir, on Engineers day. Engineers like you make us and the Country proud. At least engineers do a creative job. You were lucky to have worked under Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a Great Engineer and a Great Soul. Only Great souls can think of using their knowledge for the good of mankind, and the development of the stent as a bye product of your main area of work, shows this quality.

    Ex-Prime Minister, Narsimha Rao opened the country but as you have rightly said It made India Net importer “A Consumer nation” and like Africa exporter of Raw Materials. We must accept that in the near future we can’t compete on even keel with China for many reasons, but we need to find our competitive advantage which we do have and the recent apathy in the world, towards china can assist us and we must seize the advantage. Modiji is working hard and trying to change the Country in many ways. The steps taken and amount of Bills passed etc.; is testimony to the fact, that he continues to function with vigor and with vision, in spite of corona and other challenges. He has too many irons in the fire and is working as per the priorities keeping in mind limited time and resources.

    Innovative thinking like the solar powered cold storage is the need of the hour and Scientists/Engineers like yourselves, must come up with more innovative ideas of such nature which enhances the quality of life and for the betterment of the economy of India.

    We still need to retain likes of Sundar Pichai in India to benefit India. This in itself is another challenge.

  6. Thank you Sir for sharing this article. Indeed Engineers are an integral part of any country and should be celebrated and valued. My heartiest wishes to you for the same. As you mentioned, most of the countries have become indebted to China for almost all their goods and supplies while the export trade is coming to a standstill. USA has taken a bold step in trying to free itself from the bondage of China.

    Just 2 days back, a bill was passed to ban and detain goods brought from western China in order to put a curb to modern day labor. USA is also planning to ban import of tomatoes, cotton, linen and hair products from China. The Trump administration has alleged Huawei and other Chinese technology companies could collect American user data and hand it to Beijing, a claim several firms have denied. Thus, they are in the process of banning several Chinese apps including Tiktok. This is a bold step and could further accelerate the tensions between the two countries. However, it is the need of the hour.

    I am glad India has started promoting its homemade goods and pharma drugs. This will be a big boost for the entire nation. We have many talented and intelligent minds to focus on our market and expand it worldwide. Only time will tell how this shaped up. But, I am sure if we work together as a nation we have the complete potential to become self sufficient and attain independence from foreign goods in its truest sense.

  7. Thanks for this timely and pertinent post on the vanished aura of the Engineering profession. Even before your blog arrived on Engineer’s Day there were numerous greetings from my Engineering batch-mates in our whatsapp group, mostly tongue-in-cheek, bemoaning the seeming irrelevance of Engineering in India, growing over the decades!

    I recall my first visit to the Visvesvaraya Museum in Bangalore during my school days. It all seemed so magical but on closer look, everything became grounded in logic, reason & reality. That visit was probably what kindled my interest in Engineering, pursuing which became inevitable with my distress in dissections ruling out medical education, the only other acceptable option then in my South Indian family milieu.

    It’s a pity that Indian achievements in developing the Chitra Heart valve, the Kalam-Raju stent or the Kalam-Raju tablet were not consolidated and built upon. And there is the story of India’s 5-year plans for several decades following independence, which were essentially focussed on imperatives for successive five year periods which were largely reactive to immediate problems at hand and hardly strategy to set the country’s course & long term objectives!

    The opening up of the country in 1991 was a necessity to address the problem of depleted treasury coffers but led to the flooding of the Indian market with foreign goods and the murder of manufacturing in India. The demand-supply gap for Engineering education led to liberal licencing of new Engineering colleges leading to a glut that has now resulted in a ban on new Engineering colleges by the AICTE from 2020-21!

    This kind of reactive planning to address immediate problems is more by way of being tactical and not strategic planning which ought to be about long term objectives and aspirations. And if we become fixated in tactics, we might lose sight of strategy, even if we have one! “Tactics without strategy”, wrote Sun Tzu in the Art of War, “are the noise before defeat.” It’s only when you zoom out and visualize the broader strategy that you can walk away from flawed tactics, however tempting they may immediately be.

    Make in India, Skilling India, Atma Nirbhar India are all great initiatives, but the red tape and corruption that deters entrepreneurs needs to be constantly weeded out. It’s heartening to see our EDB ranking rise to cover nearly half the distance to the top in a span of just 4 years!

    As you and Mr Bart Fisher have propounded so puissantly in ‘India Wakes’, this is a watershed moment in both our countries’ destinies and we need to seize it to achieve our respective long term objectives. It is encouraging to hear of Engineers joining hands to help farmers in the example you give. It is high time that our informal national slogan, by our 2nd PM Shri Lal Bahadur Shastry in 1965, of hailing the soldier and the farmer, be modified to ‘Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer, Hail the Engineer’!

    And here’s to the hope that by Engineer’s Day of 2021, all the prophesies concluding the ‘fields & factories’ post on your blog, have come to pass!

  8. Thank you for sharing your journey and wisdom, Dr Tiwari — as always, enlightening and thought-provoking!

    While reading your line “I continued to live in my own bubble of feeling important about doing some great work. This idealism led me to the indigenous development of medical devices”, it occurred to me that so much could be achieved by the nation if we could get our engineers and other specialists to feel important and proud that they were doing “great work”. The resultant innovations could be nearly as stellar as your stent! Perhaps the various possible “great works” need to be defined and spelled out in a manner that appeals and attracts.

    ‘Engineers for Agriculture’ is obviously a wonderful synergy, and here, the current piece-meal efforts across farms in different states, need to be consolidated or scaled up, so that the sector as a whole benefits. As a mission, the wrongs that accrued (beginning liberalisation) from ignoring this noble, accommodating and contented sector of yore, must be addressed. Simultaneously, the political forces, the vested interests that exploit this sector and sow seeds of dissent, discontent and revolution need to be dealt with.

    Overall, engineers with their bright minds are going to be THE shining force in new India. How wonderful if they devoted themselves to bettering the lives of the common people in different ways. Nations are indeed built in fields and factories — but they are made up of people!

  9. One requires a man who has foresight, plan and execute. As a professional, the engineer in his student years is taught the latter of the two. By years of experience, he learns how to anticipate an event or requirement.

    Given these skills (of course some people have an innate capability), and engineer is best equipped to meet the requirement. Bureaucracy goes by a rule or law but does not take a country forward.

    I therefore agree fully, that the engineers need to take over the reins rather than be driven by a rule book. It will be only through a radical transformation, we can take the country and the humaniy forward.

  10. Prof. Tiwari, Great nations are indeed built in the fields and factories. Economic output is directly a function of the technological progress a society makes. In all this, engineers play a pivotal role to play because the essence of engineering is problem solving within the given constraints. I am a bit embarrassed to say that I didnt know about Engineers day till I read your article. But I did know about our Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya.

    My brother told me about the lesser known story about Sir M Visvesvaraya when I moved to Hyderabad. How then Nizam of Hyderabad sought his expertise to solve the problem of catateosphic devastation caused by 1908 floods in Musi river floods. The best flood management systems were created and we still see Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar.

    Multinational corporations are vying to compete and gain bigger and bigger shares in our market of billion plus Indians. New product introductions are sources of future growth and life-line of these organizations. New products are built by engineers.

    To realize our PM Modi’s vision of Make in India and President Kalam’s dream of seeing India becoming a superpower, it us engineers who have to contribute in our nation building.

  11. Dear Sir, a blog on Engineers day, by an Engineer and about Engineers is the most apt blog. You have again covered the whole canvas the way the Engineers have contributed in the well being of this great nation.

    If I have to talk about Engineers of Indian Air Force, well, the role of Engineers is mainly as maintenance Engineers. The huge inventory of Fighter and transport fleet, Helicopters, Radars, Communications and all the types of weapon Systems are needed to be in war worthiness state at all times and this enormous task is achieved by Engineers of IAF. One important aspect of Engineers in IAF is that they are called Technical Officers. It goes back to the times of Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh who joined Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1931 as a HAWAI SIPOY. Harjinder Singh was a graduate Engineer from MacLagan Engineering College, Lahore and was selected to be appointed as an Engineer in the Punjab Province Govt of that time. But some thing happened that led to Harjinder Singh joining Royal Air Force. He wanted to see the Aircraft in one of the RAF stations but was denied entry stating that Indians were not allowed to enter in RAF Station. As a Jat Sikh, it hurt his pride and he took it upon himself to join just as a Hawai Sepoy in RAF. Indians were not allowed to join as Officers during those days. He was later on commissioned into IAF in 1943 and rose to become an Air Vice Marshal and was awarded Member of Order of British Empire (MBE) and PVSM. He was a technician as a Hawai Sepoy and later on became a Technical Officer after commissioning. That is why Engineers in IAF are probably called as such.

    The Engineers day reminds me of my own journey. My father always wanted me to become an Engineer after I got 100 percent marks in High School board of 1968. Later on I was told that UP board was the toughest board in the country at least in those days. So from then on the Journey to become an Engineer started. When I topped the all India Competition for Engineering in 1969 for admission in ZH College of Engg and Technology in AMU, I was confident of fulfilling the dream of my father. The most satisfying aspect during the college was that most of the professors were PhD from American or European Countries. They taught concepts and helped in mastering the application aspects of the various Engg subjects. In 1974, immediately after India did it’s first Nuclear Explosion in Pokhran, I was selected to join as Scientific Officer in BARC under Dr Raja Ramanna as the Director. I had accomplished the task of becoming an Engineer. Then of course, I joined IAF in 1977 and became an Aeronautical Engineer and worked in many AVTARs as maintenance, design, development, testing and Quality Engineer in different establishments. My last posting being as RCMA, DRDO, Nashik before taking premature retirement in 2005 from IAF.
    Now in India as you say very rightly that Engineers have huge task and big role in making India Atmnirbhar.

    The various initiatives of the Modi Govt including Make in India pose challenge to Engineers in indigenous design, development and manufacture with increased local content. The technical brain drain over the years since independence has nearly paralyzed the capability so much so that 70 percent of Defence Equipment is still imported by India making our war waging capability very venerable as we have seen in our past conflicts. In my opinion, the influence of bureaucracy similar to the depts of space and atomic Energy, will have to be reduced in defence equioment procurement and manufacturing to acheve the Govt set targets and goals. The Engineers in India continue to occupy the apex position in contributing towards Nation Building. Jai Hind.

  12. Thank you, sir. Your revived memories both nostalgic and surreal— as if it happened yesterday. No Engineer from our era at G B Pant University can forget the festivities of the day. Er. Sunil Kaul, my one year senior, has already reflected upon the excitement in an earlier blog comment.
    The spirit of problem-solving, the foundational skill for engineers exuded throughout; supported by an excellent library, laboratories and good hostel food (especially the celebratory fruit cream). Later, I had the opportunity of studying and teaching at many prestigious institutes, academies and universities, including IIT Delhi and CPWD National Academy. I note that the library, hostel food and laboratories at Pantnagar at that time were distinctly better. The academic rigours of a trimester system brought the best out of us, and the extracurriculars made many of us flower. Professor Arun Tiwari certainly owes a part of his masterful writing abilities to his regular extracurricular writing opportunities there. Did we all continue to bloom? How many of us got a chance to work under inspiring leaders? And even more critical grabbed an additional responsibility?

    Just imagine if our system allowed a few of us to flower like the three mentioned in the blog! Poor governance—critics go to the extent of judging Indian State as predatory and parasitical. But assessing alone would not solve the problem. Hordes would continue joining the IAS and IIM flaunting their entitlements, complicating and profiteering in what can at best be a zero-sum game. Where have we gone wrong? and why those of us who went out succeed?

    Our space mission and metro rail projects show us a way out. Removing the zero-sum game constraint guarantees success and engineering excellence. India to become competitive in manufacturing and services would probably require one more important input — our political power to ponder over what the critics describe as the Indian state being predatory and parasitic.
    I just finished a chapter subtitled “Democratic Recession” from your latest book “India Awakes”. You write about Predators in the neighbourhood and the likelihood of not catching up with our neighbour’s giant growth leap in the 21st century. However, well-intended and game-changing demonetizing and introduction of GST were, it caused immense suffering to the poor and those who need help most. The government again blundered by ordering a 4-hour lockdown and trying to brush the immense sufferings also by the most helpless poor migrants.

    Probably we would do better by respecting our poor people, workforce and yes engineers. They would take us ahead of our predatory neighbour.

  13. Respected Sir, Thanks for sharing informative article on Engineers day. There must be good coordination between policy makers and implementers while moving towards national mission, otherwise what we will achieve is of no importance.

  14. Happy Engineers Day! Engineers have played a big role in national development and their importance in nation-building will continue to grow in the future also. However, their mindset and approach for complex problem solving are undergoing significant changes. More and more engineers are embracing multidisciplinary approaches, entrepreneurial mindset, and sustainability-oriented solutions. I think this is a welcome trend. For becoming a self-reliant nation, India needs a large number of professionals who can combine skills in engineering, management, entrepreneurship, social development, etc. Luckily, the number of such professionals is growing fast. Thank you for the valuable article.

  15. Dear sir, Please accept my appreciation and thanks for a very thought provoking, chronologically sequenced and well thought out blog , which brings out what we have been missing at every stage of journey during last 74 years and exceptional contribution by some of our Engineers who are not from IITs yet they have contributed their best. Our IIT Engineers are making global mark and leading the top Industries and corporations.

    I strongly believe that if you have that engineering bent of mind, you will still contribute and succeed even if you are not from the niche institute. Sometimes you may not have formal degree yet you will come out with wonderful innovations. A Case in point is one weaver by name Mallesham comes out with an automatic weaving machine after seeing the plight of his mother who eked out her family living by hand weaving and getting paid peanuts for the kind of effort. He would have studied upto high school, he goes on to design Microcontroller based weaving machine and writing his own assembly code. He gets one of the civilian awards. A person who was selling pens in Delhi streets goes on to become top manufacturer of Battery and UPS in the world. He goes to IIT to deliver a talk. We used joke around about Chandni Chowk and Jalandhar designs. I strongly believe that the Jugad they do are no less innovations. What I am trying to say is, Indians are capable of fantastic innovations, what they need is right encouragement and financial support.

    As you rightly brought out Engineers have not failed their profession. I must be excused for the very low end examples but they have made difference to the life of people. The prosperity of any country depends on the political will looking at the larger good of the people. The proposal given by Dr K L Rao for national water grid to solve the perennial draught problems and utilising the available water efficiently gets rejected in 1972 and gets reviewed in 2003. Even today this has not fructified. In 2019 , after 70 plus years we establish JAL MANTRALAYA to make available drinking water to every family. Had it started in 1972 even at the slowest pace with limited financial availability, it could have done wonders. There can be nothing more fundamental than drinking water to every household. It is not the Engineer,it is the political will which has failed this country time and again. Give the Indian Engineer right encouragement and support, he will do wonders. Case in point is Sri Sridharan the METROMAN.

    Coming back to the Defense Procurement, the buzz word is indigenous content. They ask PSUs, what the percentage of indigenous content is, and say it should be 70% atleast. How can it come, Even in 2020 we don’t have a foundry which can produce 16 bit processor. We have no great MMIC facilities and big research facility for making Microwave components and still the indigenous content should be high. Blame PSUs that we are importing “EVEN COMPONENTS”. I only have to say what Jesus said “ O lord forgive them because they donot know what they are saying”.

    In every field, engineers can contribute. People of different specialisation have to work together to jointly address the problem. Like you contributed in the making of the stent. BEL could come out with ventilators in partnership with indigenous partner to meet urgent demand of the country. A number of wonderful innovations are taking place in IIT Madras incubation centre. Given the encouragement and financial support Indian Engineers and Technologists can come out with wonderful disruptive innovations . There is no dearth of Talent. Sir, Thank you once again for bringing out an absolutely fantastic blog on ENGINEERS’ DAY

  16. Thank you Arunji, great blog on Engineer’s day. Though, I did my graduation in Chemical engineering, I have worked only in Management positions throughout my career of 43 years. But, I am grateful to the approaches of solving problems which I learnt as Engineer.

  17. Dear Er. Arun, First of all let me wish you a happy Engineer’s day! A very well written blog, brought some kind of pride to us. It is true that engineer has brought laurels for the country. You have rightly pointed out that Indian engineers are doing a lot of good work all over the world and making India pride.

    It is heartening to note that your friend Mr. Tangrila have set up a solar power driven cold storage at Warangal. I have seen, while working at Hyderabad, a lot of farmers are pursuing high tech agriculture (floriculture, horticulture, poultry, dairying, milk processing, fruit ripening units etc.). Many progressive farmers are using new modern technologies like drip irrigation and saving almost 70-80% water used in crop production. Engineers are contributing in making life of a common person comfortable and convenient.

    I hope in our country engineers will continue to contribute their mite in nation building and excel in all walks of life, be it agriculture, space, manufacturing, processing, medical …… Wish you good luck.

    .

  18. Dear Sir, your blog comes as a breather. When media is busy with conspiracy theories of murder and drugs, you are sharing how history is being made. I am especially happy to read about the LPG people line project. Once completed, this single pipeline, longest in the world, will transport 8.5 million metric tons per annum (MMTPA) of LPG, which is about 25% of India’s total LPG demand. This way, about 34 crore people in the States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh will directly benefit from constant LPG supplies.

    Laid at the cost of Rs 9,000 crore. It will take the product from three LPG import terminals at Kandla, Dahej and Pipavav) and two refineries at Koyali and Bina to 22 LPG bottling plants – three in Gujarat, six in MP and thirteen in UP directly and another with road-bridging another 21 LPG bottling plants in Rajasthan and Maharashtra and in Madhya Pradesh. This is called nation building. I wish you could have included Rs. 1 lakh crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train also. It will transform Indian Railways into a global leader in size, scale & skill.

  19. Sirji, As always a super article.

    The key line for me was “Let engineers join hands with farmers.” And nothing can be more relevant vis-a-vis the current situation. In the coming years, with a growing population and depleting farmlands, largely thanks to unbridled construction happening everywhere, farming will have to be approached in a very unconventional way. For all the technological strides that we could make, the fact remains that at the end of the day people need nourishing food and people need affordable food.

    Thus, it was so heartening to read about the wind-solar cold storage that your friend installed in Warangal. The crop availability is extended by avoiding any kind of food wastage. Also, since the technology relies on renewable energy, it ensures long term continuous availability of electricity even in places which are subject to daily power cuts or even places, which are totally off grid. Thus, it is a win-win for everyone involved. Moreover, such technology will go a long way in feeding a huge populace, especially in a country like ours where hunger is such a big issue.

    What the future needs is a human-centric technology. Another area that can be seriously redesigned by engineers along with professionals from other creative fields like Architecture is the Education system. There is no dearth of talent in India. Given the right trajectory and the right conditions, there are Satya Nadellas, Sundar Pichais, and Arvind Krishnas, just waiting to be discovered even in the remotest village of India. A strong educational system will go a long way in helping the “Make in India” tiger growl and growl real loud for ages to come. This will also ensure that we are self-sustained (Atma-nirbhar) in a Big way.

    Thanks once again for such a relevant article. Jai Swaminarayan!

  20. This is a very positive article that continues to inspire me to do more. I’m hopeful for a better future of my country and I’ll continue to participate more in achieving it.

  21. Happy Engineers Day Prof. Tiwari! It must be nice to have a national holiday where you can reminisce of the engineering achievements you made while working aside the leadership of Dr. Kalam.

    This subject is very dear to my heart as I have a deep passion for technology commercialization. The future industries of robotics, AI, IoT, 5G and blockchain will create numerous jobs and economic wealth for the countries that lead in these areas and India has the human capital to make great strides in these areas. However, since technology moves at such a great pace – and since it’s so critical for national security – I feel India should forge closer alliances with U.S. firms for joint ventures – not too different from what China did after Deng Xiaoping opened up their economy. The chilling relationship between China and the U.S. opens up an opportunity for India. Trump clearly will favor Modi/India over Xi/China when it comes to cooperation in key technical industries. AI in particular will be a major battleground. There are many bright Indian engineers in the U.S. doing quite well. Perhaps they will play a catalytic role in fostering closer ties between the US and India.

  22. That I happen to read and revert on your Blog, Mr. Arun Tiwari today the September 15th is by no means a coincidence. It is simply celestial. You, my dear senior by one year in Engineering College, my route marker and the one whose name itself is a Pandora’s box filled with sweet memories…. I better stop here for ‘when we meet,’ moment. Else it would be akin poking a bee hive; your esteem blog followers would have to scramble for cover. That’s why I say getting in touch with you now after four decades is no coincidence but destined.

    Yes! Today the Engineers day is celebration time….then…. when we looked forward to the evening feast at Hostel No.5 the senior’s hostel – the lovely dessert – Fruit Cream still haunts me. But I do agree with you The Enginner’s Day celebration inculcated a sense of pride in us. It was like – This is our day, The Engineers day. Let’s contribute and make India proud. At DRDO, Engineers being called as Scientists in my opinion is apt, for Science is about knowing and Engineering is about doing. A concoction of both is what makes the broth besides tasty, very productive.

    To begin with The Make in India Lion should roar, in all its glory and spirit, louder than the hissing of the Red Dragon. The Atma Nirbhar Bharat should not just remain a slogan but the Industrial wheels well greased and oiled should churn. The production should multiply. New manufacturing units, big and small have opportunities galore in absence of cheap products dumped by our neighbours being banned. The fertile Indian brain housed in its laborious and hard working people is just no match for any other in the world. This is the opportunity…not to be missed. It’s the time to Increase production, Agricultural growth which in any case has stood by its testing times, pharmaceutical, garments, toys, mobiles, digital gizmos, snacks, consumables…you name it and we can do it. Why import? We even can retrieve making our idols, our Gods….why a Ganesha should come from China? And why a Laxmi has to cross LAC to reach our homes.

    As you have rightly mentioned – It is heartening to see Satya Nadella, Sunder Pichai and Arvind Krishna lead the top three engineering giant companies of the world, India might have failed its engineers but they did not fail their profession. Only today I came across the completion video of Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass – An Engineers marvel, 9 KM in length at a height of 3100 M, one of the longest road tunnels in India. Reducing Leh – Manali road travel by apx. 45 KM and making it an all weather road instead of some four months road earlier.

    And now today again as we are at the threshold of gearing up ourselves to revive the shattered spirit, the battered economy and the ever doubtful existence of mankind itself, let’s do it…simply just do it. Let’s shun negativity, pessimism and rise to the occasion. Collective, we can be a force to reckon with. We can, we will and we should revive the spirit of life, move the wheels of economy and rise from the ashes. Let the Govt play its part honestly and sincerely. Just eradicate corruption, shun nepotism and I’m confident hard work, dedication and sincerity will hit the bull’s eye. India’s talent will remain in its homeland, exodus back will start. Likes of innumerable CEO’s shaping others worldwide would surely love to carve a beautiful maid creating an awesome attractive figure chiseled to perfection with bountiful economy, abundance of talent, boisterous production and create an Atma Nirbhar Bharat in its true sense and spirit. I wait to see my neighbours left with no option but to declare India as a touch me not country.

  23. Dear Sir, You touched upon a relevant subject about imports. In my child hood, I saw a stapler, and stapler pins, nail cutter etc are imported from China. We are still doing the same thing. Because of the British ruling, we forgot to believe in our competence, ability. In a way, we stopped believing our selves and always look towards west for every thing we want. It may be pen, tooth paste, shoes, chips etc. It sounds ridiculous that we can’t even make our own chips or tooth paste. It is the responsibility of the big industrial houses to make import substitutes instead of poking into the lively hood of vegetable vendors, artisans etc.

    Another aspect is we don’t believe in making quality products and are not used to pay price if someone makes it in India. But we will pay premium if it is just imported. A big shift is needed in the minds of young Indians about our talent, ability and competence. How many of us really serious about our own ISI mark? Government should come up with a big campaign about quality and its importance if we need to compete with the world and also create level playing field for all the entrepreneurs.

  24. Dear Sir, If we only focus on doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, when India completes 75 years of independence, which would mean, providing power, water, and proper storage to prevent market glut, that alone will turn around our economy. And if we add home for every family, 5-trillion-dollar economy is very much there. It is important not to get swayed by side issues.

  25. Dear Sir, Happy to see your article on the birth anniversary of one of the great engineers India has produced in modern times. I have a few points that may be contradicting and would like to share them as below

    1) the rise of need to be an engineer or a doctor (in 1980’s-90’s) irrespective of the child’s aptitude and attitude, interests and brute force by parents led to the disaster, and the rise in # of engineering colleges. This was a mining opportunity for people who set up the institutions.

    2) What did many engineers coming out become and a vast % continue to be today are just back office operations @ IT services companies for global companies. It met their needs of better salary than what the parents earned, and gave the tag he/she works for an IT company.

    3) We lost the most critical thing of what engineers are to be, that is to innovate and bring new products, solve massive problems…instead we started doing escalation call support.

    4) India’s brilliant minds explored greener pastures for their appetite to pursue higher education and job opportunities. we lost a vast amount of capable minds to other economies.

    5) Our higher education program, especially Masters across and Phd’s needs a huge transformation, if India as a country has to scale heights, its the Phds and masters with subject matter expertise that can change our course.

    6) Now going back to history, we keep hearing some of the great monuments (Stupa’s, the grand old temples etc.), that were built 3-4 millenniums ago, still stand proof of our engineering finesse, India had, where, how and why did we lose them. was it intentionally destroyed? Sometimes I wonder without the need for super computers, how did they design some of these and execute with precision. Our almancs ( designed few milleniums ago) are able to predict precisely, the occurrence of astronomical changes. We probably lost the basics due to the multiple invasion and the last nail in the coffin was the adoption of British education system.

    7) I believe we have it in our DNA to do great things, but we probably need the right structure of the system to support the same.

    8) I dont think it was bad idea of the few who pursued UPSC to become Civil servants, maybe thats why we are still in the safe hands of a few who apply their engineering knowledge in their jobs, problem solving, analytical etc. Few more pursued MBA from prestigious institutions to become good managers.

    Last but not the least I am still wondering why I call myself an engineer, is it because i got a certificate that states the same…

  26. Dear Sir, Happy Engineer’s Day!

    From Sydney, I can see how much great opportunities are available for Indian sectors to capture the market through make in India initiatives by our PM. The engineers can play a very important role by innovative solutions for day to day requirements.

    As you mentioned about tomatoes are now being refrigerated with the help of new wind solar cold storage technique. It’s a very good opportunity for Indian farmers to produce and store crops like tomatoes which is very expensive vegetable in countries like Australia. Its approx. $10/kg. Similarly Ocra (bhindi) I am purchasing here in Sydney for $16/kg (800 INR).

    Here Govt. of India should intervene by approaching these countries for establishing Indian grocery stores and sell Indian exotic vegetables grown by our farmers. I think, things are now moving in a right direction but will take more time, might be 10 yrs to achieve the targets.

    Let’s see, but for sure Indian is going to lead in future. And yes, the engineers need to play their basic role in that by using their engineering skills rather than wasting their talent in doing stupid job of an IAS, almost waste of talent. Warm regards,

  27. I agree with the emphasis you have placed on the importance of engineers. The same logic that you have described for India applies to the United States vis a vis China. Engineers are an important component of national security. The United States needs to promote the engineering profession to be sure that it keeps the lead it now has in semiconductors over China.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is a teachable moment for us: reliance on China for items related to national security, such as vaccines, rare earth minerals, and telecommunications, is a major mistake. We need engineers working with governments to power innovation to stay in the lead in global technology for the benefit of all mankind.

  28. It is very well put. Engineers need to step up and play a greater role in Nation building. Just that the Nation needs to give them adequate space and resources to be able to commit themselves.

  29. Dear Sir, You always told us, engineering is not only the study of 50 subjects but it is organising an intellectual life for the good of the society. Each of the expert engineers is a warrior with the weapon of technology. This Engineers’ Day is indeed special. Let us all work to put the economy back on its rails.

  30. Dear Sir, As you pointed out in your several visits to NRDC, our walls are adorned with pictures of great Indian engineers – the nuclear and space programmes, green revolution, dairy revolution were great engineering feats. And then something went wrong.

    Very rightly put, we have a national mission of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, when India completes 75 years of independence. I am happy to see that engineers are finally getting involved with farmers. Wind-solar cold storage can change the lives of millions of farmers and fishermen.

    Engineers have never been at fault. It is business people who profit from Chinese products and destroy local MSME in the process. Actually there is no other way for India but to rebuild itself but as a self-reliant nation and engineers will play a central role in that mission.

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