Some Concerns, Some Trends

Many look at IITs for many reasons. Parents aspire to see IITs as the choicest target to be attempted by their children to get educated. The students start dreaming and preparing for IITs through IIT-JEE as soon as they reach class X. I have come across many alumni of IITs who hardly wish to remember the arduous days at IITs. Most of the alumni, however remember the IITs with a flash in eyes with respect and belongingness.

IITs as such have become a respected brand of India in industries all over the world. At least some smaller countries wish India to help setting up an institute on the line of IITs. However, in India the politicians wish to get IITs established for getting political mileage with the vote banks. The extension of OBC reservation to IITs was certainly one of the pure political moves for the same reasons without giving thought on its damaging effect on the quality of education and brand with not much of preparation to affect it. Now every state wishes to have an IIT, as if that will provide the answer to all its problems of technologies. As a political priority, at least some with forthcoming election in mind, 8 new IITs in eight states will start operating in this year itself without any prior preparation of infrastructure or faculty. Another exclusive IIT is being proposed for girl students without asking girl students if they require or like one. Surprisingly, the demand has come from the first lady President of the country.

I shall myself prefer IITs to franchise its course material and train, if possible the teachers, to make the right use of the material so that al the engineering colleges that wish, can avail it. If IITs can, it may adopt some engineering colleges.

I look at IITs with different hopes. I wish it must focus to bridge gap between industry and academia, when I try to remember of any outstanding innovations coming from IITs and find nothing great but a few such as a riksha designed by IIT, Gauhati and Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala’s Simputer. Even if I am wrong which I shall like to be, it is because media has hardly any coverage of the work at these great institutes of national importance.

It is funny that the minister of rural development of India wishes to take help of the students and faculty of IITs for monitoring NREGA in the country. The same politicians use the rural teachers for collecting census data and for conducting election. Students of IITs can only be used to impart technical knowledge and to train the farmers. However, that itself will require sufficient orientation of those students.

I get pain to know about the role of coaching industry for IIT-JEE and the way this industry is expanding to every small town with franchises. I don’t the number of poorly manned and fake ones. The way the coaching institutes keep on advertising, it appears to be nothing but just cheating. I wonder why can’t IITs innovate the system of the examination that can’t be coached.

Somehow I feel IITs have not been able to keep track of its alumni and through one of its management schools it could have undertaken a research project to understand the realistic influence of IITs on the professional achievement of alumni. Alumni could have been a source to create an endowment fund for each institute, and further could have served as visiting faculty too. In US, sixtytwo universities have endowments of over $1 billion each.

A media reported trend is certainly heartening. More and more IITians are staying back in India. Quite a few prefer for manufacturing instead of IT. IITians no longer prefer U.S. as job destination. Ph.Ds are getting better salary offers. Salary packages for faculty are getting significant increase, some say, 200%.

However, I personally don’t like the enhancement of fees of IITs at one hand, and on the other the preference of IITIans to get into IIMs and joining consulting and financial services straight from the colleges. I would have preferred them to come back to IITs or IIMs only after three to five years of experiences to specialize. Alternatively, the course can get extended to five years with the placements after three years, and the balance two years’ period divided between the employer and the institute.

Will the government come out and announce the ultimate number of IITs in India? Why can’t it create another brand or as many brands as the number of new institutes it establishes with open competition to excel?
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Read How Not To Build New IITs by SWAGATO GANGULY

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