Some views on IITs, IIMs, IAS Examinations

I follow some all-India examinations keenly. News related to results of IITs, and IIMs entrance examinations and of IAS always interests me, though usually I hardly know any one appearing for these examinations. It takes me to my younger days through the memory lanes. I am sure the students and their parents all over the country spend some sleepless nights and are very excited. The Indian society has started giving special status not only to those who succeeds but also to their parents. Sometimes, it is by community facilitations or enhancement of values in marriage market through heavier dowry- the age-old curse of society. However, these are not my concerns. I have some strong views about these examinations and want some changes to get built up in the systems.

Firstly the maximum age limit must be lower. Even in 1957 when I appeared for my IIT-Kharagpur examination, I found students with Master degrees joining with us. All like who were, straight from Intermediate science, felt disadvantaged in scholarship examination as well as in first year in which mostly science subjects were taught.

Those appearing in examinations must not get more than two opportunities to clear. I have seen students appearing years after years till they reach upper age limit. It is really unfair for the really better ones and perhaps more intelligent candidates. It prohibits the selection of the deserving candidates. In one extreme case that I came across, one boy came to me for an interview for a position of fresh engineer 5 years after passing out engineering from Roorkee University, as he was trying to get into IAS and all those years he was appearing for that. Was it not something undesirable? It must be happening even now.

The examination system must also discourage the use of coaching classes for succeeding in the examinations. The coaching has become an industry with many thousands of small and big institutions all over the country. The institutions have developed the knowledge of the pattern of questions that are asked and prepare their students for them. It has given rise to many unscrupulous means to extort money from the candidates and sometimes also to get the papers out. And then good ones are so costly that the students with financial constraints get further disadvantaged. I feel the examinations must judge the knowledge and intelligence level of the candidates. It must be made pattern less. The manner of setting papers must be made so random that the coaching doesn’t give much advantage. It may even be made open book. Imagine even the reduction in number of questions in recent CAT examinations invited negative criticisms and was termed ‘foxy’.

The paper should include a set of questions that judges the value preference of the candidates too– the probability to go to even unethical means to achieve ones personal goals. On the same line, I recommend that the examination must judge the innovative capability of the candidates. I don’t know whether it can be designed, but perhaps it has become a necessity with the falling moral level and lack of innovativeness in administrative services.

The IIMs must not allow candidates without experience for their regular courses as in many Western countries. Particularly, I feel miserable when I hear some who has just passed out and graduated in engineering from IITs joining IIMs. It is a shame for IITs and the whole education systems. It is a waste of money and time to study engineering for 4 years and then to join a management course without experience of the industry just for a fatter starting salary. The engineering background will be of no help in the candidate’s professional career rather it will confuse the employers. Even the industry should discourage it. IIMs must inculcate in the students entrepreneurships as the major objective, so that more of them can start some enterprises of their own and provide job opportunity rather than getting into a subordinate role in an established enterprise.

Gradually more and more positions in government should be open for qualified people from outside the IAS system, say from private and public enterprises and educational institutes or from among NGOs. Main thrust must be one finding out persons with stronger moral values and innovativeness that is missing today in the cadre. The country wants officers in administration who can stand strongly both morally and physically on right path in interest of the country rather than licking the politicians’ feet or get cowed down by mafia leaders.

If you agree to my views, will you please e-mail it to all for whom it matters?

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