In the first four decades of independent India, bachelor of science graduates far, far outnumbered engineers and doctors.
Then, beginning in the mid-1990s, it all changed as engineering degrees saw a massive spike.
By the end of last decade, the number engineering graduates almost equalled B.Sc. graduates. That’s an increase of almost 13 times between 1995 and 2010, according to data from the Indian government’s department of science and technology.
Much of it has to do with India opening up its economy in 1991 and unshackling the private sector, allowing the country’s information technology and software industry to flourish. Software services exports, for instance, grew at 30% (pdf) annually from $50 million in the late 1980s to more than $200 million in 1993.
That meant the demand for specialised jobs in engineering—in IT, and other sectors like construction and infrastructure—went up, and India’s engineering education gold rush steadily took hold.
But, for some time now, there has been a cloud over the quality of engineering education in the country. In 2011, the National Association of Software and Services Companies, the trade association of IT and business processing units, estimated that only 25% of India’s IT engineering graduates were actually employable.