Pune University graduate and aspiring environmental engineer Abhinav Nanda knows he has it easier than his elder brother Abhishek, who did not have too many academic options in India in the late 1990s. But the future Abhinav sees for himself mirrors his brother's present.
Back then, Abhishek, now a New York-based environmental economist, had no choice but to go abroad to pursue his academic dreams. Now, the younger Nanda has a platter of courses from India's top higher education and research institutions to choose from for a postgraduate education in environmental engineering.But two years from now, Abhinav is convinced he's likelier to be in San Jose, California, than in Santacruz, Mumbai.
"I can certainly pursue research here, but it's in the west where green jobs really lie," he said, with a shrug and a smile. More than a decade after Indian higher education institutions first started environmental science and engineering programmes, green courses are no longer hard to find on the country's campuses.
From the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Indian Institutes of Technology to newer private universities such as NIIT University and Amity, green tech programmes are on offer in prospectus brochures.
The Indian Institutes of Management and other B-schools too have started offering lectures in environmental economics - the study of why countries such as India and China are often at loggerheads with the developed world over carbon emission policies.
But an inability to create enough green jobs to cater to the growing number of trained professionals graduating from these courses is hurting India, forcing many of the best skilled environment engineering, scientists, economists and analysts to instead seek careers abroad.
The Asia Business Council, in a 2010 review of the green industry across Asian economies, concluded that India - and to a lesser extent China - lag far behind Japan and South Korea in policies aimed at proactively encouraging green jobs. This is so even though today, India has more professionals trained for green jobs than Korea.
"Some of the most popular sectors in which Indian students are applying abroad for postgraduate education and careers are now environmental science and economics," Rakhi Goel, a Delhi-based international career counsellor said. "Quite frankly, India isn't being able to absorb the green graduates coming out of its universities."