“ a compromise formula which includes a proposal to take top 20% students based on percentile ranking of respective boards for preparing the merit list”

How meaningless is this solution ?. Higher education in India will become the domain of the school toppers and Children of affluent parents and we wonder why half a million students leave India to study undergraduate courses overseas. Children who will never return to a country that shunned them.

Is this is what we call inclusive in RTE ?.

God Save India

Inclusive education does not mean that everyone must enter, or pass out from, an IIT. It only means that if you wanted to, you could have a shot at it. The child labourer is excluded because she can never dream of entering an IIT; she may absolutely hate IIT, but not trying to join an IIT should be her decision. Even if there is only one IIT train, every child must have access to the platform where the train comes. Of course, not everyone will get on to the train but everyone knows what to do to have a shot at the train. This is called inclusion in education. Everyone must go to school till class 12; those who work hard, and are willing to work harder still, will join an IIT. Others will, by choice, decide not to work that hard and become economists.

Shubhashis Gangopadhyay

All children are born equal and mindless politicians are trying to grade the children and youth of the nation and create a new Brahamanical Caste system in Education, which is pandering to the neo rich who can afford to send their children to elite private schools and Coaching schools.

"HRD Ministry of India wants to build castles of higher education on the bamboo scaffoldings of its schools" ~ Satish Jha

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Friday, March 23, 2012

49 - Epilogue: The Inconvenient truth by Ram Krishnaswamy - Reflections by IITians


Time forBrick Bats for speaking my mind:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I am notorious in IIT Circles for stirring the pot or creating controversies or exposing the inconvenient truth: like objecting to PanIITians inviting Bill Gates as the Chief Guest and hosting the first PanIIT meet in USA. IITs belong to India and Kharagpur should have been the venue for celebrating the 50th year with President & Prime Minister of India as Chief Guests. That is waterunder the bridge now.

This book would be most boring if I was to depart from my usual style and try to be a crowd pleaser. Controversy is the spice of life as it gets tongues wagging, key boards hammering away.

Most IITians will tell you how wonderful IIT was and what they are now is because of IITs. I agree with this to a large extent yet believe there is tremendous scope for improvement in IITs.

The system of using one written entrance exam in Maths, Physics and Chemistry to decide a student’s future is a big mistake in 2008. This might have worked fifty years ago, when there were no JEE Coaching schools.

There is no proper evaluation of aptitude for engineering technology through interviews and if selection through the JEE exam was bad enough, to select the branch of engineering from day one on entry is an even greater mistake.

From day one students are exposed to a caste system of a kind in IIT Campus. You can consider your self a clever Brahman if you are doing Electronics or Computer Science as you would be in the top 100 ranks.  Well Civil engineers are the untouchables on campus as they are the last ones tomake it to IITs.

Faculty fall into this trap easily, mentally grading students from day one on campus and treating them accordingly. I am sure this will be denied.

All fun is taken out of learning in IITs. It is more like a military college with little room for creativity, little scope to develop personal skills like writing, debating, public speaking & sports. 

Try asking a Prof aquestion in class. If he does not have the answer, he will make a mental note that you are trying to make him look stupid and will take care of your grades.

Education system in India is wrong where the emphasis is to learn everything by rote and regurgitate at exams and then forget the very next day. Imagine engineers from India who cannot change a flat tyre ? India surely could do with some practical engineers

IITs should encourage creative thinking, have open book exams that separate the true clever ones for crammers, get undergraduate B.Tech students involved in research projects nice and early as that would harness their minds to continue to do PhDs at IITs.

If B.Tech students do not wish to continue doing research at the same IIT the reason is staring us all in the face.

When students enter IITs, they should not be told their ranks nor should faculty know about it. Let them all enter as equal students sans ego’s. After all every one tells me there is very little difference between a 1000 ranks in JEE. Do not allot any branches at the interview. This will be one nice way to weed out students who are interested in a fancy B.Tech Degree but not engineering Technology.

Let the first two years be a level playing field allowing young students a real chance to prove their abilities and assess their real aptitudes. A student who is hopeless in a machine shop or engineering drawing suggests he will not make a good practical mechanical or production engineer.

First year should be a lot of fun with emphasis on English, as well as communication, economics, history, human psychology and other humanities related subjects besides Maths Physics and Chemistry.

At the end of the 2nd year a weighted average of entrance rank (25%),
1st & 2nd year performance (25%), Workshop (25%), Aptitude (25%)  should be used as criteria to decide who does what branch.

Conduct interviews and allow faculty to pick their students.  I see no point in forcing a student who wants to do software engineering or business management into civil and metallurgy. No one benefits, yet every one loses including students, faculty and IITs

IIT’s must allow students to pursue fields they are passionate about. There may be those who realize they were not meant to be engineers or Technologists, who should begiven the opportunity to switch to their field of interest after second year to business & finance etc. and still be awarded the B.Tech Degree. For this to happen IIT should turn into Universities offering degrees in medicine, arts, law and business etc.

From my vast interaction with alumni for IITs my understanding is that at least 85% of IITians are not working in their fields of Engineering or rather what they were forced to study.

Alumni from the first twenty batches had no expectations or a Brand Name, no big egos. Our starting salaries ranged from Rs 400 to Rs 1000. Our success may be due to the fact that we had no brand image and just went about our business and did our best as employees.

Current crop are said to be burnt out just preparing for JEE, lack creativity, have high expectations and many believe they are ants pants even before they set foot in an IIT. Expectations are high from day one and it is dangerous to feel good even before we have achieved anything.

It is disappointing to hear that as many as 200 students failed in the first year in physics, maths and chemistry. This is because coaching schools students have learnt the art of cracking JEE exams without a sound knowledge of the fundamentals in maths, physics and chemistry.

IIT-JEE (Joint Entrance Exam for IITs) has now grown into a monster that IITs cannot control. I am told that many young IITians ( I am not saying all ) are poor communicators and that is also a worry.

Yes they are the cream of the nation based on just one entrance exam and the journey has just begun. I am concerned that unless IIT’s are flexible and willing to change, the brand name will get eroded in time to come.

May be we can even consider an engineering Diploma that is given out in three years and allow them to specialise in a field of their choice in 4th and 5th years. 4 year B Tech is too short

Not only will the students benefit, the faculty will also find mature students who enjoy their branches as opposed to young fellows doing chemical or civil engineering, who want to switch to IT or software or Finance immediately after graduating. This is a great disservice to the good faculty teaching disinterested students

Above all IITs have a lot of work to do to improve student / faculty relationships and make learning fun at IITs. 360 degree feed back on faculty performance by students will bring about a great change in faculty attitudes towards students.

My advice to young IITians and aspirants is that an IIT degree and academic achievements are nothing but the first stepping stones giving you all a great start and a solid foundation. The rest of your life successes rest on your own capabilities and how street smart you are without being cunning or deceptive or unnecessarily competitive or disloyal to your employers.

Listen to your inner conscience always, as that never lies to you and follow your dreams, do not kill them as you have just one life to make your dreams come true.

If you do well at studies in IIT then life is an oyster.
If you do not do well at IIT, like me, remember life is still an oyster and you are miles ahead of million other Indian engineers.

I did not enjoy studies at IITM as it was a torture but without my B.Tech I may not have achieved anything in my career and I thank destiny for the opportunity.

Brand IIT and the future:

Brand IIT did not just happen overnight. It took about 150,000 alumni from all IITs, fifty long years to earn this Global recognition for the IITs of India.

Whether this Brand IIT will survive another 50 years is a doubt.  Let us address the factors that will affect this Brand Image

Deemed IITs

Today, IITs are facing the wrath of HRD Ministers with proposals to convert every other engineering college into a deemed IIT. A group of IITians created a petition that was endorsed by 4500 IItians to block the deemed IITs which would have turned into doomed IITs. http://www.petitiononline.com/SaveIITs/petition.html

Ten new IITs

Thank heavens the deemed IITs idea has been dropped and HRD is now talking of ten new IITs. That is fine except itwill take another fifty long years for these new ten IITs to get a brand name. They have to earn the Brand Name. Meanwhile market forces will easily differentiate graduates at job interviews based on which IIT they graduate from.

Reservation in IITs

Forcing 49% reservations on IITs will in all probability kill the Brand in less than five years. Thanks to our honourable HRD Minister.

Reservation is great in philosophy and looks even great in our constitution; yet politicians have failed to implement Reservation properly since independence.

As some one belonging to the backward class myself, I honestly believe that, for reservation to succeed it has to be introduced in primary and secondary education after which the disadvantaged community should be allowed to succeed on their own merits in universities and employment. We are better off teaching the hungry to fish as opposed to feeding them fish.

Lack of Faculty to Teach in IITs

It is common knowledge that not many people especially talented teachers want to teach at IITs anylonger. There is an acute shortage already and the introduction of Reservation in IITs will see a mass exodus of good faculty. As it is I hear that IITM faculty members fly each week to Hyderabad IIT to teach. For how long can this extravagance be sustained ?

Last but not least the JEE Monster

Faculty in IITs were wrong in believing that the harder they made the JEE exams, the better the crop of students who will succeed. In fact it became so hard that no school leaver could succeed without special coaching. Coaching schools were born as there was money to be made: nothing wrong with that as parents were willing to spend the money. But what happens to clever students who are poor ?

But this has reached monstrous proportions and has also become unfortunately a national obsession for parents to pressurise their wards to make it through the Golden Gates of IITs. We have reached a stage where coaching schools themselves have a selection exam to pick the best to coach for the JEE exams

When school students spend two long years preparing for JEE and cut regular schools to attend coaching school classes, something needs to be done.

What ever happens to fun like learning music, dancing or playing sport even if not competitive ?

Further more these days the coaching schools are not teaching real subject but teaching students the art of coming out tops in the JEE Exam. Students get trained to become experts at guessing correct answers.

We have a situationwhere JEE entrants guess answers, score high ranks and fail miserably in first and second year as they lack the basics.

There is a simple solution to weed out these Coaching schools. Have online exams for JEE throughout the year where the computer generates a different set of questions in each subject for every student. The student should get his results on the spot with his ranking with respect to all those who had taken the JEE exam prior. This ranking will keep changing with time until the closing date. Perhaps each student should be allowed two chances at taking this computer exam in one year.

When this happens there will be no need for faculty to create new exam papers each year. After all JEE is an exam for school leavers and not astro physicists. Questions can come straight out of a database of 50 years of collated question papers in each subject.

The idea of allowing students to take mock exams on line is also promising as it will allow poorstudents, especially from rural India, who cannot afford coaching schools in Kota or Hyderabad etc. an opportunity to take a test drive to get the feel for the exam.


On behalf of all alumni of all seven IITs and its faculty, I appeal to the Prime Minister of India, to remove this burden of Reservation from Institutions like IITs meant to be autonomous or stand by and watch these temples of technical education erode in just a few years as faculty and potential students leave for greener pastures.

IITs need to be saved from dilution through deemed IITs
IITs have to be saved from dilution through too many IITs
IITs have to be saved from dilution through Coaching Schools
IITs have to be saved from dilution through Reservation
IITs have to be saved from dilution through Erosion of Autonomy
IITs have to be saved from dilution through Exodus of Faculty

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is ararer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”
 Robert F. Kennedy, 1966 speech

Do IIT Alumni have this moral courage to stand up and fight to save these institutions called IITs that nurtured us all ?
Only time will tell.

Ram Krishnaswamy
aka Ramboaus
Back ward class Hindu