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24 Apr. 2019

India Tour Report 2019     Tatsuya Hirokawa (UTokyo)

・affiliation :Department of Systems Innovation
・duration :February 20-27, 2019
・program :School of Engineering India tour

A vibrant city, Delhi

I had many reasons why I would have liked to go to India, IIT. Mainly, since I am going to graduate school of infrastructure, engineering, I was so eager to see the development of India both from hard and soft perspectives and researches about it. Infrastructure deals with various aspects of cities, for example, economy, efficiencies as IT, harmony with nature or culture, scenery or design. India is projected to be the largest country in population in 2024. I was so curious to know how the country is managing city planning and the improvement of people’s lives. Developments of societies involve such various points of view, therefore, as a civil engineer, I desire to have knowledge related to city development and skills as a generalist as well as a specialty in engineering. I wanted to gain a new perspective that I cannot gain in Japan through this program which would greatly help my research in graduate school from April.

Secondly, I was interested in India in terms of job-hunting environment. It is said that there are a lot of excellent students, especially engineers in India and there would be no longer a definite reason for Japanese companies to recruit Japanese students. In fact, a famous Japanese venture company, Mercari, recruited 32 Indian people out of 50 new employees in 2018 and most of them graduated from IIT. I was looking for an opportunity to talk with students at IIT and know how they are planning their future, their career path and places to work. I was interested in getting a job abroad, but I cannot imagine how I will do it in the future since most students here usually get jobs at Japanese companies or the government. I have another year or two before I decide my first job after graduation, therefore, by talking with students and visiting companies in India, I would have liked to make myself have a broader view for my future career path.

During the trip, I had faced with too many things which I cannot experience in Japan in terms of civil engineering. The thing I was most impressed was the chaotic cars on the streets. There were many cars, which looked pretty old models and was relatively small, rickshaws which are called tuk-tuk in Southeast Asia. They never follow the lanes written and change the lanes without signaling. They honk all the time, especially at the intersection. One IIT student told me that they are taught to honk at the intersection, but for me it looked that the system was not working since everyone was honking and nobody knows which one should go first. Possibly due to the rapid growth in ownership of cars, the soft aspects of car usage are still in the development phase in India. On the other hand, Uber is available in India and there were many cars available in any time. In Delhi, you would be able to travel by Uber with about 100 to 400 yen per ride for five kilo or something. It was interesting to see the gap like this in India that in some ways, they are very convenient and have new systems, but in other aspects, the system should further be developed and prevailed.

Another interest I had about the city was about the labor problem. There were many children working on the streets. They were sometimes selling foods, probably helping their parents and sometimes selling stationery such as pens to pedestrians. Even if they were not working, in Old Delhi, we came across children who kept following us and begged. I guess most people are aware of this problem and at least IIT students didn’t like that, however, as we learned in the class at IIT, at “Indian economic problems and policies” on the second day, Indian economic gap is not yet to be solved and the education they can get also varies according to the area they live and money they possess. This should be tackled with by the government very seriously.

I imagined that the problems they have in India in the field of civil engineering would be hard sides as hygiene management and so on. It is true that they have to change and organize systems such as water problems that they don’t have safe water everywhere especially for Japanese and hot water doesn’t come out easily. However, since India is experiencing a rapid change, it is equivalently important that they should take care of soft issues as mentioned above. 

As for the second motivation, a lot of people mentioned about the job-hunting environment in India during the tour. IIT students looked very interested in opportunities of working abroad as interns or full-time employees after graduation. HR manager at Tata Consultancy explained us that in India, it is rather companies that seek students, not that students seek companies they want to get in. Especially IIT students are difficult to get, they say, so that they are doing long internship program to let them be interested in. There are two things Japan should do. Firstly, as universities, they should try to improve the CS (Computer Science) department. They say that as engineering faculty, The University of Tokyo is in good position in rankings, however, CS is regarded as weak in Japanese universities. Secondly, in hiring employees, Japanese companies might have to look for students abroad more proactively. There are many competent students all over the world. Especially at IIT, many global companies including Microsoft or Google are trying to get students. I’m not sure how much Japanese companies are trying to hire them, they shouldn’t look for candidates only in Japan since HR is a very important basement of competitiveness fior companies.

This trip became a great opportunity for me in considering the theme for the research in the master‘s degree. I’m going to join the International Project Lab at Civil Engineering Department from April. The trip made me notice many problems which you cannot have in Japan, but are very serious in emerging countries. I could also feel the importance of Indian market, which is growing rapidly. While India is still one of developing countries, a lot of innovations seem to be happening here.