It is not an exaggeration to say education is inseparable from Kammas. For generations, irrespective of their social and financial strength, majority of families from Kamma community gave extreme importance to their children’s education. And this trend became more aggressive after 70s and 80s. Being a forward caste and a victim of reservation system the circumstances forced to opt for professional courses that have helped either to set up own shops or join some private companies. Specifically after 80s ‘engineering’ emerged as most preferred option for higher education. Limited number of colleges with regulated seats in Andhra Pradesh confined the scope for aspirants, making them to explore alternate options. In the process, the neighbouring states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamilnadu have emerged as serious destinations for courses in Engineering, Medicine, Pharmacy, Dental Science and other relevant curriculums.
Today in the coastal Andhra Pradesh, distinctively in Krishna and Guntur districts, a funny anecdote is in circulation. On an average every household who have educated kids, have one of them abroad. Similarly, in those days of 80s and 90s every household has one or two, who were pursuing professional courses in adjoining states. This trend was more predominant in progressive communities like Kamma. However, many of those who opted for engineering in 80s, irrespective of their graduation or not, ended up becoming traders, entrepreneurs, and businessmen. Come 90s, the trend changed for reasons like initiation of economic reforms and Information Technology (IT) boom. Majority of engineers who have graduated in the first half of 90s seriously started contemplating USA as their next destination. The Y2K conundrum added to this as a belief that year 2000 would uncover serious technical issues in the coding of computerized systems leading to disorder in computers and computer networks around the world. This created numerous opportunities, though only for a temporary period, encouraging Indians to apply for US Visa notwithstanding their qualification. That was the time when graduates from even mundane colleges made to US and got settled. Though the Dot Com bubble occurred in year 2000 followed by 09/11 attacks created temporary dullness in the job market, a correction occurred gradually and in the next one decade US was the only destination for every individual who graduated with a B.Tech. On a serious note, situation went to a level, where girls only preferred those who settled in US as their life partners. For those who failed to get an entry into USA, Australia, UK, Newzealand, Canada and Middle-east have offered opportunities to come for education or work.
The last 15 years have seen many engineering students joining the course with a dream of landing in US or the other above mentioned countries for pursuing their Masters after their B.Tech/B.E. Gradually these countries also became an option for Bachelors degree. And many after their pre university education (Plus II or Intermediate) moved abroad for their BS. This thought processes even exists today.
Of the immigrants in USA, highest number of them are from India and from a majority are from Telugu states. Though not ascertained by any survey, it is often said of all the Telugu communities residing in USA, Kammas are of highest percentage. It would be worth mentioning here that Microsoft chief Satya Nadella also belongs to Kamma community and there are many self- made entrepreneurs, bigwigs, and corporate honchos. However scenarios are changing fast and days are not as rosy as they were in the past for engineering aspirants and graduates. This article and the forthcoming ones would explore why Kammas should reconsider their decision if they have ‘engineering’ as their only career option.