CAREER GUIDE Friday, January 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India

Options in economics
Pervin Malhotra
CIENCE is passé. The craze for commerce too is wearing off. So what’s the hottest subject for college entrants today? Economics clearly is the flavour of the admission season at major universities like Delhi University. 

Victims of a callous education system

Amongst the hundreds of queries I receive to this column each week, there are always some to which I have no answer. I am reproducing one such that came in recently. Perhaps the university concerned and the Punjab Government can reassure this reader and scores of other aggrieved students like him who are victims of our callous education system.




Options in economics
Pervin Malhotra

SCIENCE is passé. The craze for commerce too is wearing off. So what’s the hottest subject for college entrants today? Economics clearly is the flavour of the admission season at major universities like Delhi University. That it attracts the brightest and the best is obvious from the incredibly high cut-offs that threaten to shoot through the stratosphere each year. St Stephen’s College received 10,000 applications for 50 seats. The cut-offs: 90 per cent.

What do you come out with?

BA (Eco) or BA (H) Eco in India. In the UK, its BSc Eco.

Why do it?

Because economics impacts practically every activity of our lives - either directly or indirectly. Which is what makes it such an exciting area of study and a challenging profession. No wonder, despite being considered a ‘tough’ subject, economics scores as one of the most popular fields of study on campus. A graduate or postgraduate in economics has numerous career options in teaching, research, government, industry, media and business.

What’s it about?

Economics is actually about real-life issues - money, material goods and possessions, stuff we just can’t live without. It looks at the factors that affect the world and why some countries are poor and some, rich. Economists study the alternative ways to which our scarce resources can be put to use, and formulate policies on their use and distribution keeping in mind that they are finite.

How long is the degree?

Three years after class XII for a Bachelor’s degree and two years thereafter for a postgraduate degree.

What are the students like?

Studious and hardworking. While their counterparts in other liberal arts courses are generally "sparing", eco nerds can be found poring over hefty tomes in the library or spending a mini fortune at the photocopier.

How is it packaged?

Basically, the study of economics covers three broad spheres: micro economics, dealing with individual choices; macro economics, dealing with the economy as a whole, and with impersonal economic forces; and development economics dealing with sustainable growth and development.

The eco (H) syllabus loosely covers the following:

1st year: Micro Economics-I, Quantitative Method, Comparative Economic Development and National Account Statistics.

2nd year: Micro Economics-II, Macro Economics and Maths for Economics.

3rd year: Public Finance, History of Economics and Indian Economic History.

While courses at the undergraduate level cover the general background, the history, principles and theories of economics, further specialisation is offered at the postgraduate and further still, at the PhD level.

How cool is it?

Damn cool!

An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday did not happen today!

Seriously, it’s considered a "prestigious" course and at times companies recruit economics grads as management trainees in lieu of MBAs.

What subjects you need at 10+2 level?

Students from the Arts, Commerce or Science stream (with eco as an optional) are all eligible for admission to Bachelor’s courses in eco.

Economics has become increasingly mathematical. All areas of economics require statistics and data analysis techniques. Some areas such as growth economics or mathematical economics require more advanced maths. Those taking up this subject should therefore make sure they have basic mathematical skills and numerical aptitude. Most of the top colleges require maths as a subject in class XII. You must also be comfortable with detailed, analytical work.

Where will you study?

There are basically two routes to an economics degree. The first is the humanities/social science approach, where economics is taught in conjunction with subjects such as political science and sociology. The second is the commerce/business approach where study of economics is combined with training in statistics, mathematics and commerce. At the Master’s level, economics is taught in more than 100 universities and even more colleges all over the country. Some of the best postgraduate courses are offered at the Delhi School of Economics and the School of Social Sciences, JNU. Calcutta University also has a good reputation for economics.

Will I have to take an entrance test?

Selection is usually on the basis of marks scored in class XII. The cut-off percentage is pretty high though - just a couple of notches below that for commerce.

What do students say?

"It’s great. I enjoy the tough mathematical elements. Only now have I understood what maths and statistics enable you to do", says (Ravi, a final year student of Economics (H).

"Gosh, I wish someone had warned me earlier. It’s so darn tough to score a first division. No wonder they call it is a "suicide subject in DU!" says a harried Manish, desperately scrounging for a decent 50 per cent aggregate which is something you would take for granted in any other course. It would be a misconception to consider it an easier option to commerce.

Who are the stars?

Our very own Nobel laureate Amartya Sen - then Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia in India, and John Maynard Keynes to name a few.

Adding value

While a relatively small number of eco grads go on to do a Master’s in the subject, several others fuelled by dollar and six-figure salary dreams head for the ever-popular MBA. Master’s in International Business (MIB) and Masters in Business Economics (MBE) offered by a handful of universities, are other emerging options.

The more academically inclined (and well-heeled) head for foreign shores to study at the renowned London School of Economics or Oxford or some prestigious universities in the USA like the MIT, Princeton, Stanford or Harvard for further studies (some scholarships are available for the bright and the persistent) after which they often land plum jobs at World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the Planning Commission. Actually, after your Bachelor’s in eco, you have a truly vast array of higher education options to choose from- ranging from law and journalism, to research and academics.

Where are the job opportunities?

Besides the traditional career avenues in teaching, banking and the civil services, economists are increasingly employed in the financial services sector (investment banking, stock market), research, forecasting and analysis (at the macro and micro levels to measure economic indicators, market trends, etc), media (both print and electronic), policy making and in consulting. Other sectors such as agriculture, housing, urban development, rural and environmental planning market research and NGOs also need inputs from economists. State bureaus of statistics and economics also employ a fair number of economists.

Competitive exams

The Indian Statistical Service, the Indian Economic Service, the Indian Civil Services, Bank Probationary Officer’s Exam... all of which lead to assured careers.

Prominent research bodies where economists work:

The Institute of Economic Growth

The Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy

The Institute of Applied Manpower & Research

The Indian Council of Social Science Research

The National Institute of Urban Studies

The Indian Statistical Institute.




A philologist studies the structure and development of specific languages or language group from their ancient parent languages by studying their word and structural characteristics. Philologists also seek to identify and classify obscure languages, both ancient and modern, according to family and origin.

Reconstructing and deciphering ancient languages is also done from examples found in archeological remains of past civilisations.

Getting to be a philologist requires at least a postgraduate degree, probably a Ph.D, for most jobs are available in the academia, namely colleges and universities and some research institutions.

The number of new job openings are limited to filling in vacancies arising from older philologists who retire.



Victims of a callous education system

Amongst the hundreds of queries I receive to this column each week, there are always some to which I have no answer. I am reproducing one such that came in recently. Perhaps the university concerned and the Punjab Government can reassure this reader and scores of other aggrieved students like him who are victims of our callous education system.

Q I am doing MCA from one of the most prestigious institutes under Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar. The problem is that there is rampant mass copying in the final exams. This happened in almost every institute that comes under the PTU. The management and staff provide us with notes and guides for cheating because they want good results to attract new students in the next session. I have worked very hard to get a free seat. But all my efforts and hard work have gone in vain as the PTU unnecessarily increased its seats from 60 to 1430 in order to increase its earnings through fees. Students who have not even qualified in the entrance test, have also been allotted free seats.

Madam, I am terribly depressed because of all this. Please tell me how can I have a bright future in such a substandard institution? Am I making a fool of my parents or myself by paying such high fees to study in this type of atmosphere? Please suggest whether I should continue my study here or not? I will be looking for your opinion in The Tribune.

Name withheld


Q I am a class XI student of poor means but I am very keen on pursuing medicine. I have heard that the AFMC, Pune, offers this course free of cost with free board and lodging. Could you please tell me more about it?

Preeti Chawla, Jalandhar

A. The Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, is a reputed medical school, ranked next to AIIMS and Maulana Azad Medical College in the pecking order. The AFMC conducts an all-India entrance exam for admission to its MBBS course in May.

Eligibility is Class XII with Eng & PCB (1st attempt, 60 per cent) & maths in class 10. Age: 17-22 years.

Even BSc graduates below the age of 24 with any two of the following subjects: Phy, Chem, Bio (Bot/Zool) are eligible.

On qualifying the written exam, you will be called for an interview. If you are selected, you will have to execute a bond to serve as a commissioned officer in the Armed Forces Medical Services on completion of the course.

Only 50 per cent medical cadets are granted permanent commission. The remaining 50 per cent are granted the Short Service Commission (SSC) after the final MBBS exam. The choice of commission is based on merit-cum-option.

SSC officers must serve the Armed Forces Medical Services for seven years. On admission to the college, you have to execute a bond to this effect for an amount of Rs. 15 lakh.

The government provides free accommodation and rations, second class railway fare from college to home and back during vacations, a book subsidy of Rs. 8,000/-, uniform allowance of Rs. 2000/- and laundry allowance of Rs. 500/- p.a.

The college is fully residential, with hostels for girls and boys. The annual intake is 130.

Hurry. The notification has already appeared and the test is held on May 4.

For further information, refer Employment News (4-10 Jan ‘03) or contact: Officer-in-Charge (Admissions Cell), AFMC, Sholapur Road, Pune 411040.




1. Name the first Dalit Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

2. Who was awarded the country’s highest peace time gallantry award, Ashok Chakra, on this Republic Day?

3. Who recently became the fifth woman after Maureen Connolly, Margret Court, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf to hold all tennis grand slams at once?

4. With which country did India recently sign an extradition treaty as part of New Delhi’s attempts to intensify the fight against terrorism?

5. Who wrote ‘Madhushala’?

6. Who was the chief UN arms inspector in Iraq?

7. Name the chief of Italian company Fiat who passed away recently.

8. Expand AAI.

9. To which state of the country does the popular dance ‘Ruff’ belong?

10. What is the capital of Switzerland?

11. What is the full form of TRAI?

12. Which country won the first cricket World Cup?

13. Who won the men’s singles tennis title in the Australian Open recently?

14. Who won the mixed doubles tennis title in this year’s Australian Open?

15. Which Australian batsman recently became the first international cricketer to be suspended for breaching the ICC’s racial code of conduct?


School address.......................

Winners of quiz 174: The first prize by draw of lots goes to Sukhjinder Mohan, XI-M, Guru Nanak Public School, Sarabha Nagar, Ludhiana.

Second: Mayank Sharma, VIII-B, BSL Sr Sec School, Sundernagar-174402 (HP).

Third: Akashpreet Singh,VIII S-3, Shivalik Public School, Nawanshahr-144514 .

Answers to quiz 174: Prime Minister; TM Asthana;Steve Waugh; Nimesulide( Nimulid); Kiran Bedi; BC Sanyal; Gulmarg Gondola Project; Ninth Symphony; Bank for Industrial Finance and Reconstruction; Wellington; January 15; SS Barnala; Neptune; Pierluigi Collina; 1500m&5000m.

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address.

— Tarun Sharma