5 Questions With : Adhitya Iyer, Author and Chief Storyteller at The Great Indian Obsession
Updated on: 30 Jun 2016
He sold chai in Bangalore, backpacked across India to discover stories on engineers and crowd-funded for a book on the same… Adhitya Iyer on The Great Indian Obsession
Drive through the outskirts of Coimbatore and you can spot at least one new engineering college every year. Many of them are located on highways, with pathetic connectivity to civilisation. The quality of education is questionable — some colleges hire freshers as lecturers and lack basic lab facilities. And yet, students flock to these institutions. The situation is the same across India. What's this obsession with engineering? Twenty-seven-year-old Adhitya Iyer set out on a backpacking trip across the country to find out. He encountered shocking stories of 'prison hostels' and campuses where boys and girls were forbidden from talking to each other.
Adhitya has documented these in his book The Great Indian Obsession: The Untold Story of India's Engineers. The book was possible with the support of over 300 people across the world who crowd-funded it to raise 14,000 AUD.
Excerpts from an email interview with the author:
Did you study to be an engineer? Tell us about your education.
Yes, I completed my Engineering in Computer Science from Mumbai University. I did engineering because there is little else to do! I did my initial schooling in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but later moved to Mumbai for a 'better education'. There was a perception then (and still perhaps) that Indian schools are one of the sturdiest systems in the world, particularly for their emphasis on Maths and Science.
Why did you choose to write on engineering?
If Engineering were a religion, it would be the fifth most populous religion in India. The story is so ubiquitous, massive, and an integral part of our society, that we fail to see the absurdity of it.
Take us through your backpacking trip across the country.