Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - technical engineers under attack by social engineers in India

A cruel joke used to float around in IITs during our student days. That there are three sexes in the world. Male, Female & IIT female. Although the barb was directed at the “quality of prettiness” of IIT girl students; the bigger frustration of the male students lay with the quantity. In our batch of 300, there were hardly 10 girl students (that’s about 3% ) who had courageously decided to study engineering and as perks would get free treats almost daily from the male students. Recent reports suggest that the figure has gone up to only 10% .

With such poor numbers to show , it is inconceivable as to how the present UPA government & its aged HRD minister can even think of starting an all-girl IIT. Its reported that the new President of India, the first female to be one, is behind such a move. If this move is to correct the low representation of women in IIT, then surely it smacks of another case of thoughtless “social engineering” and adding to reservation numbers through the back door. What then stops the government from opening up IITs for vastly unrepresented minority communities like Muslims, Gujjars, Parsis, Jains & others?

Both the central government and the IIT administration seem to think that IITs have become a global brand largely due to their efforts. When , on the contrary, the fact remains that it is the meritorious (top 1 % of the applicants) students who have worked hard to get a recognition for their talent & achievements as engineering professionals, academicians & entrepreneurs in a foreign country of their dreams. Most of them will confide privately that they learned their engineering during their Masters degree in top universities of USA. Neither the Indian industry required IITians at one point of time nor did the faculty have any notable work in their credentials to ignite interests in cutting-edge engineering among the students in IIT. The Indian industry in fact used IITians for marketing their products and others were left to do brainless maintenance work in remote locations of the country. The salary was pitiably low. Sadly the situation has not changed significantly today. Engineers remain one of the worst paid professionals in the country while glib-talking advertising professionals with a MBA earn three times their salary.

Curiously IIT Mumbai has gone ahead this year to ban foreign internships for their students.IIT Mumbai wants it students to get excited about engineering happenings in the domestic companies. Why can’t the IIT administration create academic excitement in the class-rooms? Why is it that students of all engineering streams continue to focus only on software companies for their placements? Why is it that they do not get excited by mechanical, electrical, aeronautical , civil engineering companies ?

Presently there are seven IITs and the plan is to add 9 more including an all-girl IIT. If the idea is to increase the numbers of available engineers in the country surely the government could have created a completely new brand of 9 engineering colleges with excellence as the motto instead of just branding them as IITs. This new brand could have studied the shortcomings of the existing IITs , assessed the model of the globally successful engineering colleges ( ones which have top-rated prize-winning faculty) and then come out with its own model. At least the new brand would then have a chance of bettering the IIT brand, if not anything else.

But conventional thinking dictated by social engineering still continue to influence the woes of these few institutions of excellence while the IIT brand gets diluted every passing year.


Neo-Indian said...

There was another common IIT joke that went like, "What do you call a beautiful girl at the IIT?"
Ans - "A Visitor"

But, jokes apart, since when did the present UPA govt and Arjun Singh start caring about brand values and educational standards. Their agenda has always been vote bank politics. Today, an engineering degree in India has almost no value with hundreds of engineering college churning out housands of engineers every year. I've seen B.E/ B.Tech graduates working in call-centres in Bangalore, attending phone calls. A lot of my friends have branched out into finance and commerce after earning their engineering degrees.

BTW, I'd like to know your reactions to the IIT-Delhi SC row.

Salty said...

@Neo-Indian: I agree that the new economy does not appear to have made any significant improvement either in the lives of engineers (job-satisfaction, payscales etc)or in churning out innovative new age global products from these colleges. The UPA government instead of correcting some basic anomalies, such as the above, are going ahead in engineering the goose that lays "golden eggs". The recent case that you point out is an example of gross interference in the autonomous character of the IITs. I sincerely hope the Director of IIT Delhi will not succumb to political pressures in diluting the academic standards of the institution.

It is also interesting to note that for all its benevolent reservation policies regarding the backward castes,the UPA government does not have support from the dalit party BSP.