Nerditya by Aditya

About the Indian Coder

I recently read an article on the Atlantic, Behind the 'Bad Indian Coder' about the quality of code coming out of Indian firms. There have been many opinions expressed on the subject. It's interesting to see how your surroundings affect the way you understand a problem.

Here are some of the major issues with the programmers from India today,

  1. Curriculum in most Indian universities is outdated and is controlled by the Government.
  2. Most people in positions to take these decisions are incompetent.
  3. We put them there by voting them.
  4. Employers don't have a say in the process.

These are just some of the issues that plague the situation. I've gone through it and the reality is, no one cares. Most students are concerned only about getting jobs. They don't care if the jobs are in the same field as their degrees. On top of that, the curriculum is horribly outdated that even when they get a job in their field, it doesn't really matter. Of course, there are always a few handful students in each class who strive to better themselves. They ultimately succeed with a poor conversion ratio.

I studied Electronics Engineering in India. A Bachelor's degree. In the 4 years and 40+ subjects that I studied, one was on C/C++ programming. Do I really need programming for electronics engineering? Yes I do. Most companies use Perl as their choice of scripting language. Those who don't use either Python or Ruby. Did I study a scripting language? No. On top of that, most of the industries need to use compute intensive applications that run on Linux 99% of the time. Did I study Linux in those 4 years? No. Again, this list goes on for a while. Ultimately, the education system needs an overhaul.

The reason I raised this point is - had I not decided to go for higher education, I would have most likely ended up in an application software company. The kinds that provide services to product based industries. Where I would have had to code. Not in VHDL or Verilog, but in Java, C, C++, ASP/.NET, etc. With 6 months of training from the company. Learning to code well in mere 6 months is not possible. Those who can do it already did it in the 4 years of their undergrad.

With majority of workforce coming from a non computer science background, it's no wonder that the average quality of work is pretty low. As always, there will be exceptions but they are too few to register on the large-scale. I won't even go in the Government aspect of controlling educational institutes. They are after power and don't care what the nation's future generation does. Things are slowly changing with academic autonomy slowly being phased out to colleges so they can design their own syllabus. There's hope that things will change.

There was a response mentioned in the article to the Reddit thread that started all this. There were some good points about the quality of life and its relation to the quality of work. While it is most likely true, there is no denying that the academic state of Indian universities is more to blame. There's also the fact that the need for programmers is on the rise and jobs in other domains are not in abundance. With the high salaries and a promise of job, people change their fields and take up programming jobs.

I didn't really think of a conclusion for this article. I just hope that one day the students get to have a say in the matter, get to chose the subjects they want to study and finally, have an option to join a position in their field and not be afraid of their quality of work.