Address engineers issues

Rabinder Shekhar
September 15 is celebrated every year in the country as” Engineers’ Day” to commemorate the birthday of the legendry engineer, son of soil Sir MokshagundamVisvesvaraya. Sir M. Visvesvaraya,an eminent Indian engineer and statesman was born on15th. Of September 1861 in a remote village of Karnataka, the state that is incidentally now the Hi-tech State of the country. Due to his outstanding contribution to the society, Government of India conferred” Bharat Ratna” on this legendary personality in 1955. He was also called the precursor of economic planning in India. While we celebrate this day to mark his birth day, there are many things to consider now in the present scenario, whether we have really achieved what Sir MokshagundamVisvesvaraya perceived at that time. Tremendous developments are taking place now in science, technology and engineering world over and the knowledge has become the new currency of national economics. Engineers have pre-eminent role in the knowledge economy. Innovations of new products and processes from the core of new knowledge which has to be governed by intellectual property rights related safe guards including applicability of cyber loss. Changing technologies, disruptive technologies and path breaking technological developments will have to be exploited in all engineering disciplines.A theme of national importance is chosen every year by the National Council of the Institution and deliberated at its various State/Local Centres to educate the engineering fraternity in general and the society in particular. This year the National Council of the Institution has selected the theme as “Skill Development for Young Engineers to reform the Core Sector: Vision 2025”.  Discussions and papers are presented on the theme topic and long-long debates are held but the fact is that the plight of engineers all over the country is not good. They are never treated at par with professionals as yet. Here it becomes mandatory to ponder whether the engineers are treated as they should be or had been given treatment in the era of Engineer M. Visvesvaraya !
Today while celebrating the 49th. Engineers’ day and remembering Sir M.VisvesvarayaWe take pride in calling ourselves “Engineers” however, have we ever questioned whether the profession is legally recognized.
The answer is an emphatic No.
Only professions which are regulated by a legislation and the rules framed thereunder are legal – Advocates, Architects, Chartered Accountants, Doctors, etc.
Spare some time today on 49th.Engineers day and questionyourself that the profession has been in existence for years and is seemingly functioning well, then where is the necessity. However, let us consider a few issues.Is there an authorized body (association or institution even Institution of Engineers) which has the legal mandate to:
* Take up the issues of the engineers with any Authority?
* Uniformly decide across the country on the qualification, competency and experience requirements of engineers for a particular work?
* Grade engineers based on their qualification, competency, and experience and demonstrated capability?
* Direct and monitor that each and every engineer continuously updates knowledge and skills?
* Discipline engineers and bring in accountability and responsibility?
* Regulate entry of foreign professionals and also have a reciprocal arrangement for acceptance of Indian engineers in other countries?
* Restrict the usage of the title and style of “Engineer”?
The answer again in all the cases above is big Nooooooo.
When that is the state of affairs of the engineering profession what happens to the lakhs of crores of rupees being spent on projects in the country? When the country is getting on to speed for mega construction of infrastructural facilities, power plants, industries, buildings (residential & non-residential), industrial corridors, Metros, Fly-overs, smart cities, harbors, river cleaning, water conservation & supply, sanitary facilities, waste management, health, education and a host of others to improve lives of the citizens, take them all above the poverty level, and create employment for the ever increasing young work force of the country – how is it ensured that everyone contributes diligently and consistently for sustained growth.
Engineers are essential for any development project in the country. All of them require ENGINEERS of high caliber belonging to different disciplines who are abreast of the latest developments in science and technology in their respective fields.
All these Engineers are available in our country, but we need a mechanism to ensure that those of high caliber can be identified and be given responsibility to take decisions to execute all these tasks. They also need to be tasked with mentoring the next generation of Engineers so that the country is never in want of them. Legislation is required in the country to regulate the profession of engineering and create a cadre of engineers of high caliber in all the disciplines in a sustained manner.
The first draft of the “Engineers Bill” was made some time in 1985 by the Association of Consulting Engineers (India). However, it was only in 1990 that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was identified as the nodal Ministry for this bill. In 1991 the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Raj MangalPande directed his Ministry to process the draft Bill.
This bill could not become a reality due to some proceedural hiccups. This bill was modified four times before it was sent to parliament and subsequent enactment.
Since nothing happened; the “Association of   Consulting Engineers (India)” and the “National Association of Consulting Engineers India, filed a “Public Interest Litigation” against the Government of India and the MHRD with a request to enact the draft Engineers Bill. While responding to this PIL, MHRD gave an affidavit which was positive. On this assurance the judgment directed the Engineers to form a consensus and go back to the Government with the draft bill. Since then (i.e., since 2000) all energies of the Engineers have been directed towards achieving this objective.
A confederation of all the Engineering Associations & Societies representing different disciplines was formed and was called”Engineering Council of India” (ECI) under the patronage of the then Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, Shri K C Pant.
ECI prepared a second draft of the Engineers bill and presented it to MHRD for its review, approval and for processing it further in 2004.MHRD instead of processing the draft bill presented by ECI, decided to give the responsibility of regulation of the engineering profession to the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).
The Engineering Consultants fought this move of MHRD in the court and won it. The court decreed that AICTE had no mandate to regulate the Profession of Engineering and that a separate body had to be created for that purpose.MHRD set up a Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. D.P. Aggarwal, a member of the Union Public Service Commission. The Committee had representatives of ECI, CEAI, Institution of Engineers (I) and AICTE.After a number of meetings this committee produced the third draft of the Engineers Bill in 2005.
However, somewhere down the line it got stuck since a view was presented that the Royal Charter which was given to the Institution of Engineers (India) was adequate.
A statement was made on the floor of the Parliament that the Engineers Bill was not required and the matter was closed.After clarifying the issue and great persuasion the draft Engineers Bill was revived and MHRD is currently looking into it.All the engineers need to push for the legislation so that it becomes a reality. The bill is at the floor of Parliament at present and still needs to be approved.
While celebrating 49th. Engineers day, let us resolve to support the bill and get it through so that all engineers in the country including those of Jammu & Kashmir become accountable to society. We, the engineers, get our identity in the state and country otherwise we shall continue to be exploited by the beaurocates and politicians.
In our state of Jammu and Kashmir besides these problems, there are several other hitches which are dominating the brilliant budding engineers. Stagnation in engineering departments is the major issue today. There is a woeful stagnation in all engineering departments in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Many of the engineers, who joined the departments as junior engineer or assistant engineers, retired at best as executive engineers after putting in their 30 to 35 years of service and only a few elevated. Many of engineers are working as Junor engineers and Asstt. Executive engineers for more than 12 to 15 years and have not been promoted.Time bound promotion and running grades provide the right solution to this vexed issue and needs to be considered and implemented by the Govt.Adhoc-promotions is another main issue common to all engineers of the state. Most of the time, engineers are promoted on adhoc basis in their own pay and grade and they continue to officiate as such for years together without confirmation. Evidently, it results in creating lot of problems at the time of nest promotion and particularly for the settlement of pension.
Once again engineers from all departments of state shall assemble, highlight their problems and the chairman of Jammu local center shall point out very promptly and predominantly all the issues to the visiting dignitaries, pay tributes to the Engineering Icon Sir Visvesvaraya and disperse with hope that next year when we shall reassemble, we shall cross our fingers and count what the engineers have gained in 365 days. Let’s forget our collective issues and remember that “Engineers build comforts for the society without their personal comforts. “In my opinion, this thought of service before self, and getting Legislation for engineers, could be a real tribute to the great engineer, Sir M. Visvesvaraya.
(The author is a Chartered Engineer)


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