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IIT-M graduates find Indian pastures greener

By K. Ramachandran

CHENNAI Dec. 25. India's most promising youngsters are no longer looking for greener pastures abroad. In a perceptible, only about 35 per cent of fresh graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) here opted to go abroad for higher studies or jobs this year. Others accepted job offers within the country.

Last year, more than 50 per cent of the graduates flew to foreign universities.

Changes in United States visa regime, declining student aid support and, more importantly, lucrative job offers by Indian companies, seem to be turning the tide. Students say the high cost of applications for foreign universities is another factor.

"Many companies in India are offering good remuneration and even higher learning opportunities later to the IIT graduates. So the foreign opportunities are no longer a priority. Learning on the job is better. In that way it is good for the country ...The brain drain is not happening any more," says Sarath Chandra, culture secretary and B.Tech (Mechanical) fourth-year student.

A.K. Pattabiraman, Placement and Training officer, who interacts with employers and provides placement services for IIT-M students, says: "Foreign university admissions are only a second priority for students. Today, the first priority is a good job offer."

If one gets a remunerative job here and an opportunity to travel at company expense, naturally students will be keener to take up job offers. Several multinationals allow recruits to study for an MBA degree two or three years into the job.

Enquiries at an IIT-M show that even class toppers in branches such as Mechanical and Chemical Engineering have not gone to the U.S. universities. Even if one gets admissions, aid, scholarships or teaching-assistantships are hard to get. But back home, the students are getting good offers from companies. "The placement profiles are getting better," notes another final year student. Companies such as McKinsey, ITC, Hindustan Lever, Maruti Udyog, Sify, Samsung and Intel are offering freshers a starting salary of Rs.2 lakhs-7 lakhs a year.

Mr. Pattibiraman says there is a perceptible revival in the information technology industry, and incipient revival in the old economy companies. The IIT-M has always got help from its traditional supporters among corporates.

The confusing picture of the market, despite a spurt in industry-related activity, is also a factor. Many information technology companies are U.S-centric. But apparently, major software houses here have reportedly received an advisory memo from the U.S mission that visas would be issued only to professionals from computer engineering or circuit branches.

Besides, many multinationals are opening Technology Development Centres or Business Centres besides back-office processing units in India. These Centres are attracting a large number of IIT-graduates.

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