I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. In this article I will share my observation of how the Indian educational institutes and society can prove to be a major hurdle between a wannabe entrepreneur and his/her entrepreneurial dreams.
As far as technical expertise is concerned, India is producing some of the best professionals in the world. However, the culture in many of the universities and colleges is aimed at producing better employees instead of better engineers/businessmen. The students and teachers focus too much on better grades and higher scores. As a result, creativity and innovation are discouraged and the learning process becomes very rigid and mechanical.
Moreover, the students are under constant pressure of scoring high in the exams. Most teachers neglect the real world applications of the subjects they teach. As a result, the students suffer major setbacks when they finally join the industry and have little to no experience of the practical world. Internship programs during the semester breaks can help greatly in this regard. Through internships, students would get the first-hand knowledge of the workplace environment, and how theory is applied in real world situations. An increased use of case studies can also be adopted, in order to include real world scenarios in the teaching process. The students must be able to take their assignment ideas and convert them into real world applications.
The teachers also have to make sure that they do not encourage one mindset over the other. Seeking a job in an established organization has its own perks, and entrepreneurship has its own benefits. Currently, the universities and colleges are producing job seekers not job providers. This trend cannot be changed overnight, however the first step would be to include a course of entrepreneurship in the degree programs.
Another important obstacle is the students’ mindset. The students usually study to get a high paying job in one of the many multinationals operating in their area. Some of them aim to migrate to other countries for better opportunities. Those planning to stay in India would rather join a large organization instead of starting their own small enterprise. Risk taking is not encouraged.
The reason behind this individual mind set is the social approach to entrepreneurship. The educated middle class, which produces the bulk of young graduates, has been job oriented for many decades. Jobs are usually associated with financial stability, and business ventures are considered risky.
The family’s influence on an individual also plays a very important role. The traditional culture in India doesn’t really have the concept of moving out. Families usually live jointly, and often require everyone to be on-board before making any important decision. A grown man in his 20s and 30s may still require his parents’ consent before he decides to start his own business. If a person makes an independent decision without the consent of the family, the act might be considered as one of disobedience and is frowned upon by the society.
Therefore, wannabe-entrepreneurs have to convince their parents and other elders in the family before starting their own enterprise. It has to be kept in mind that the parents and elders are of a different generation and therefore of a different mindset. Many wantraprenuers are talked out of their ideas, whereas some do not have the authority to make that final decision. Needless to say that a large number of ‘would be entrepreneurs’ are discouraged at the very initial stage due to social pressures.
The social mindset regarding entrepreneurship has to change, along with the similar mindset being promoted in the educational institutions. The current lack of entrepreneurial activity in India is because of these two elements. The economy will grow at a much faster rate with the society and the educational institutes shall start producing job providers instead of job seekers.
I believe that it is high time the educational institutes change their approach to teaching. However, changing the social mindset will prove to be a challenging task. Awareness regarding entrepreneurship can be increased if entrepreneurial success stories are highlighted in the media. Social perceptions cannot be changed overnight, but the educational institutes are the right place to start in this regard.