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Changing India

These are still early days of the final placement season at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campuses, but three trends are clearly visible. While much is being made of the eye-popping salaries offered by a few global firms and the sharp increase in the number of recruiters, the placements have shown a significant change in the mindset of the institutes, which have this year given pride of place to companies with manufacturing bases in India in tune with the prime minister’s “Make in India” push. Results have been encouraging. For example, 25 per cent of the companies that have visited the IIT Bombay campus so far are from the manufacturing segment. About 100 more from this segment are expected to visit the campus during the current placement season that will end by July 2015 and the list of those that have already recruited include Airbus and GE. This growth in a desire for manufacturing jobs is a sea change from the scenario even last year when students from India’s premier institutes snubbed core engineering companies.

The second significant change is the return of variable pay, including stock options — evident from the fact that while base salaries have remained the same as last year, performance-based pay has accounted for the entire increase in pay packages this year. For example, Oracle, which has made a job offer of Rs 1.83 crore, is giving a base salary of Rs 80 lakh and 4,000 shares in stock options. This is also the case with Facebook.

The third change is that some students are choosing to start their own ventures. This is due to two factors: first, they now have role models who have struck gold in their entrepreneurial ventures — reason why Advitiya Sharma, co-founder of Housing.com, a company born on the IIT Bombay campus, shared space with global tech biggies on the first day of the recruitment season and recruited 45 IITians. Olacabs, a start-up, has hired over 80 students from IIT Bombay and Madras. Others, like Urban Ladder, also hired a large number of IIT engineers. Placement officials say never before have so many start-ups made it to the top slots at IITs. What is helping students join them is the fallback option provided by many IITs through a deferred placement programme, which allows them to return to campus for interviews in the next two years if their business idea doesn’t work out. Four students of IIT Kanpur turned down high-salary offers either for higher studies or for lower salaries to gain “professional fulfilment”. This has happened earlier, too, but the trend may be growing.

The additional, bigger reason for this new confidence is that funding is no longer as big a problem. Venture capitalists from all over the world are flocking to India; around 800 such new ventures are being launched every year. Perhaps it also shows that IIT students are no longer afraid of failing.

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