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Quality of students entering IITs

"Apart from the top 20% of students who crack the tough IIT entrance examination and can 'stand among the best anywhere in the world', quality of the remaining 80 per cent of students leave much to be desired."

This statement from Mr. Narayana Murthy stirred up a heated retaliation from across the country, with Chetan Bhagat calling Infosys a body shop. Why this retaliation? 

Mr. Narayana Murthy didn't just say it out of the blue. He backed up his statement with figures. He pointed out that while China produced 2562 PhDs in Computer Science in the last decade, India managed just 24. When he said that the quality of a majority of the students who enter the IITs every year leave much to be desired, he is not talking about their ability to work hard. The quality that they are lacking is the innovative spirit, the love for knowledge and a desire to contribute to the betterment of the nation. The only thing that the students are interested in is landing a big fat paycheck at the time of placements. It doesn't matter to them that the role they're being hired for bears no similarity to what they learnt in their 4 years of engineering as long as they're being paid more than their peers who went to other colleges. I have heard people say "You went to an IIT and still managed only a 6 lakh per annum job? Ha Ha!".

It is all about money in India. What work you do doesn't matter anymore. The only thing that matters is how much you're paid for doing it. When the whole country has such a disgusting attitude, it is something to be happy about that at least 20 per cent of the students are of admirable quality. I'm sure that figure will soon be tending to zero at this rate. 

The government isn't helping either. Providing reservation for non-deserving students only amplifies the problem. By doing so, the government has done its bit to ensure the movement of IITs from being research institutes to placement agencies. 

There is no doubt that the students who enter IITs are hard-working. But, since when has being able to work-hard single-handedly been a recipe for achieving excellence? Innovation is the key to progress and the current system, be it IITs, IIMs or any other institute in the country, is doing all it can to stifle innovation. The quality of students will continue to fall unless the attitude of the people and the government changes, and I don't see that happening any time soon. So, it doesn't matter even if you revamp the entrance criteria. You'll still get students of the same quality that has much left to be desired.

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  1. The point here is - The IITs and the IIMs (and more or less the entire gamut of the so called 'Institutions of Excellence') have become a medium via which the middle class of our country wishes to move a few notches above in the socio-economic strata.

    Learning per se, has been outrightly thrown out of the window. And it seems to have a official (reluctant?) sanction as well.

    Plus we don't need to look too far to witness this "Great Indian Tamasha"! Sad times. Especially when you hear batch-mates speak about their short and medium term 'plans'.

  2. A lot of students who enter IITs are from lower-middle or middle class background, who have worked through hardships to reach that place. And if they have worked that hard to make life better for them and their families, I cannot blame them for trying for it in the end. They need to have that kind of security before trying to get a Nobel in Physics.

  3. @Rohit: Precisely my point. IITs should focus on nurturing Nobel laureates rather than turn into a placement agency for those who are looking for a secure job. There are plenty of other colleges which are providing placement opportunities. IITs should retain the status of 'premier institutes' and not wither away into just another Indian engineering college.

  4. @Rohit: The point is - once you get to places like the IITs/IIMs, your future is more or less secured to a fair degree unless you are hell bent on screwing everything up on your own.

    The question is - What do we do after getting to these places?

    PS: As I wrote earlier, education has become a medium for getting out of the drudgery. The real sense of purpose has been lost to the 'higher' goals.


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