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So, we’re all IIT-ians now? - Article by Aditya Jha

So, we’re all IIT-ians now? - Article by Aditya Jha

Here is a thought provoking article by Aditya Jha (1987 CHE RK) on the Indian Government initiative to create more IITs. Read the complete article at Indian Express. Here are some excerpts:

By proposing dozens more of IITs, the government misses the value of excellence

IITs are in trouble. The human resource development ministry has initiated a brilliant pincer movement that first seeks to control and then to destroy them. If reports are to be believed, and given the kite flying taking place at the HRD ministry I will reserve my judgment till it actually happens, India will have at least 19 Indian Institutes of Technology pretty soon and maybe 30 within the next few years.

An IIT-ian friend of mine once went out for an arranged date with an air hostess in Hong Kong. As the music changed gears, the air hostess kept asking him to dance with her and my friend kept declining with a polite, “I can’t do the twist/disco/cha-cha-cha.” Finally, the air hostess lost her cool and is reported to have demanded, “What? You can’t even do the Can-Can? What can you do?”

To which, the proud IIT-ian responded, “I can do second order partial differential equations; can you?”

Brand IIT is not about IITs; it’s about IIT-ians. And, mostly, it is about undergraduate IIT-ians at that. People who have done M-Tech from IITs always feel discriminated against. Since they never cracked the JEE, there’s no way they will be accepted into the tribe.

Someday, the government will realise that it makes more sense to concentrate on primary education and to get out of higher education. Someday, it will disband the UGC and allow private players into higher education with no strings attached. Someday, there will be an engineering college that will challenge the existing IITs. Someday, the private colleges will use technology to deliver learning 2.0 to students. Someday, private engineering colleges will emerge, with entrance exams, personality tests and learning methodologies that will leave the IITs behind. And the challengers will arise. And the IITs will have to learn to compete.

Posted by: Amar Narisetty @ Apr 17, 2008, 11:57 pm PDT    Filed under: Media, Alumni    


  1. I feel there is nothing wrong in creating more IIT. This is good that more people will have quality education. And IITian shouldn’t worry about their brand.
    But There seem some political intereset, Goverment is interseted on creating more IIT,IIM , but when you look into standard of goverment primary school/high school/non-engg,non-medical colleges. Its hoorible, no one want to put their child into this school. If these school’s education level improve, which are attended by mass of people. The country will grow in every aspect.

    Comment by Kushal Soy — April 25, 2008 @ 6:38 am PDT

  2. while it is a thought provoking one and no one can deny the fact that indian government is in no position - financially or organisationally - to handle such a huge investment at this point and situation at KGP points very strongly to this. however, let us not forget that in every nation, it is the duty of government to create infrastructure that reaches the masses, not to harbor schools that furhter elitism in the society. The best statement however was regarding allowing private universities…i believe that would be a good thing… would foster competition in research and hence development… however, till that happens, we cannot criticize the government for the steps it takes to take higher and better research to more people… atleast the intentions and the ideas themselves cannot be criticized…the implementation can be…

    Comment by Anirudh Nellutla — April 30, 2008 @ 11:28 am PDT

  3. Unless and untill we improve the standards of our basic, primary and college education ,it will be of no use to open just IITs. IITS need certain basic proficiency in it’s student in the first year of it’s course which is met today by 4000 and odd candidates who finally get selected out og 1.5 lacs or so.. Now , with more IITs, perhaps the top 8000 would get selected ; thus we have allowed lower competency level and this will show in the end results when these people pass out . This action of Govt will certainly damage the reputation of IITs as the product quality will certainly go down . Remember, what happens when one goes for mass production at a short notice.

    Comment by Surendra Pratap singh — May 3, 2008 @ 2:39 am PDT

  4. People get used to privilege. In any society. And once you get a taste of privileged treatment, it is very difficult to give it up, give it away or even share it. Look at the all the elitist, privileged “clubs” in India. I know of at least one in Calcutta: Calcutta Club. Privilege was there during the Vedic ages (hence the caste system), and it is still here. But I digress… coming back to the point, even the apparently “classless” (no pun intended) society of the US, people become used to privilege and are reluctant to give it up.

    What I read in the article above is a similar sentiment from another “IITian” trying to maintain his position of privilege. China has socialized everything so I will not use it as an example. But let’s look at Europe: Germany, UK, France, Switzerland: hmmm… socialized education, created by the government. Works pretty well it seems. The only place where education is private is the US. And it is by no standards the best system. And where do a lot of IITians end up? The US. It does not seem strange to me that some of us should try to maintain our “privilege” at the expense of tax revenue from the rest of the country.

    I think the government should create not just IITs but a host of other educational institutions. There are so few anyways. Create them and make them autonomous, just like the IITs. We need more, not less. We need more excellent universities. Excellence doesn’t have to be exclusive. And the ones that complain just need to suck it up and give up their privilege.

    Comment by Debashish Samaddar — May 8, 2008 @ 4:35 pm PDT

  5. I don’t beleive there is any reason to think that the percentage of “smart” people in India is declining, do you?
    In 1981 - 638.3 mil 1991 - 843.9 million in 2008 - 1,129 mil
    That is close to 75% increase in the number of eligible or “smart” people who deserve to get an IIT education.
    So really increasing the number of graduating IITians from 2000 in the eighties to 4000 in the next 10 -15 years, is it such a bad goal? Yes it might be a good idea to have private colleges that can compete with the IIT brand name, but how feasible is it really?

    I understand that this whole expansion of the IITs is to fulfill the Tech demand largely from the West. So while the IITs have gained some brand recognition out West, why not leverage it.

    Comment by Joya Elliott — May 21, 2008 @ 10:33 am PDT

  6. I think too many people are jumping to conclusion just by reading the excerpt, rather than the entire story.I do not understand why creating IIT’s (100’s more) and suddenly making everyone IITian will solve the entire education problem we have.What are the things that are different in an IIT than any other college ( the students, the staff, the infrastructure though is better but not world class even in the famed IIT’s). Infact if the HRD thought process is correct, then lets go ahead and name every college in India as IIT. I do agree with Aditya , it’s not the T-Shirts which can make a brand happen, but the people, and any attempt to go ahead make every student in the country an IITian would precisely do the opposite. I also oppose this pseudo-socialism which we have in our country. Socialism is not opening co-operatives,being robin-hood about money. The IITian brand name is not created on the premise of socialism and neither the IIM brand. It is about 100’s of millions of dollars of sustained revenue generation by IITians over the past 50 odd years. Lets create more high schools, pay our taxes, free education upto 12th across the country. If everybody aim’s to generate 10% more wealth, thus increasing taxes, we will do better for this country.

    Comment by Sanchayan Sinha — May 23, 2008 @ 1:35 am PDT

  7. Sanchayan, nobody is proposing 100s of IITs or making everybody an IITian. Wish every Indian could get as good an education as provided by IITs - in teir own chosen fields - though.

    Comment by Santau — May 31, 2008 @ 11:42 am PDT

  8. I have a mixed feeling about opening of more IITs. When I entered IIT (JEE’82) almost 80% of the profs were IIT ans. When I passed out it dwindled down to about 60% (very rough estimate and so dont quote). I was privileged to revisit in 2003 to deliver a talk and I found that barely 20% teachers were IITans. Mostly we dont join back because of the dismal pay. A few extremely dedicated join (like PPC of 1985 comp sc batch or Khancha of Azad)So the standard of teaching has dwindled at any rate. With the advent of more IITs where from the Govt will source the teachers? So there will be even more dilution. Mind you it is not only the IITans make the IIT brand but the teachers chipped in too.

    Comment by Debasis Chaudhuri — June 10, 2008 @ 12:14 am PDT

  9. I think the article is ridiculous.

    IITs were never intended to be high-IQ societies. They are not clubs which only the “divinely gifted” are supposed to enter. IITs were opened to impart high-quality education in Engineering to Indian students- obvously, you must give preferance to the more intelligent, but if you CAN provide such a higher standard of education to some less gifted students, I don’t see why you shouldn’t. QED.

    Comment by Chairman Lmao — August 5, 2008 @ 9:14 am PDT

  10. I fully endorse the idea of Mr. Jha. While there is no harm in providing quality education to maximum number of people we must remember that Quality is inversly propotinal to Quantity. In due course of time if quality of product is not maintained then it will spoil brand IIT defeating the very purpose of creating more IITs

    Comment by Binod Sinha — August 19, 2008 @ 2:23 am PDT

  11. Only the first 5 should stay. All others that has been started should be clubbed under an umbrella with a different name.
    but they are most welcome to do so if they want to use JEE as their selection criteria - like how BHU used to do.

    soon everyone will be asked their rank - like how GRE and SAT score is asked at the time of interviews.
    the chaff will be seperated from the wheat.

    another friend ( an IITian) who joined a bank around 8 years ago was asked his rank by his American manager at the interview ..it will just become a routine thing. Institutions of higher learning and people who are in the field know what it is.

    Comment by Rina — March 2, 2009 @ 1:05 pm PST

  12. The new IITs have been opened . Look at their present status:no hostels, no labs ,no libraries,, where is IIT. Doesnt make any sense to just open an institute and name it IIT. The level is not even 10% of the boasted.
    The thought process is just on paper doesnt look good at the ground.

    Comment by Dharmendra Kumar — March 23, 2009 @ 3:08 am PDT

  13. Here’s my detailed reply:


    Did Infosys dilute its brand by growing from a group of 100 to …. what it is today? Should it stop growing?
    The challenge is answered NOT by saying “let’s stop growing” but by finding ways to grow and YET create the brand.
    Why can’t we get more people to say “I can do second order partial differential equations; can you?”

    And therefore, we must ask,
    in the same vein:
    HOW will we manage to build brand IIT and yet create growth?
    HOW will we manage to build brand IIM and yet create growth?
    Especially, as more and more people are keen to learn.
    The challenge is answered NOT by saying “let’s stop growing” but by finding ways to grow and YET create the brand.
    Why can’t we get more people to say “I can do second order partial differential equations; can you?” OR “I can manage my company better, can you?”

    When in HLL, in my first year, I complained to the head of HR ( a kindly old man!) in a similar way, arguing that if I increase X, it decreases Y. So, how can I have a target to increase X and Y? He heard me out, and then he said, “I understand there is a contradiction. But then we hired you as a manager.”, and he smiled.
    It was a moment of epiphany.
    I later connected it with my ancient course in Philosophy at IIT-Kanpur; I remembered “thesis .. antithesis leading to synthesis”
    * The thesis is an intellectual proposition.
    * The antithesis is simply the negation of the thesis.
    * The synthesis solves the conflict between the thesis and antithesis by reconciling their common truths, and forming a new proposition.

    I wrote the version above, highlighting the absurdity of the antithesis.
    But we really need to move to a synthesis
    .. as Infy has found?

    Comment by surajit basu — April 6, 2009 @ 5:23 am PDT

  14. IIT is the thing for which first the student dies to get into and then he dies after getting into!

    Comment by rahul mulchandani — January 2, 2010 @ 12:09 am PST

  15. Mtech’s are far more stable and research oriented than btechs…these people just clear jee and sit quiet for the rest of there IIT life, infact now the jee level has gone down ..so the question of differentiation never rises,i mean between GATE and JEE.

    Comment by YASH — February 16, 2010 @ 7:31 am PST

  16. This article is absolutely ridiculous. Just another iitian who wants his tag to remain exclusive. IIT’s were never created with the aim of furthering the careers of a few so called geniuses. They were created to provide good quality education to students so they acquire skills which will enable them to contribute to the development of the country. The educational infrastructure in India is very poor. India has a huge population of young people. This can can be a huge advantage for India provided they are properly skilled, else they will be a burden on the economy. It’s the duty of the government to provide good education to these people, not to create institutes catering to a select few. Developed countries like the US, European countries, Australia etc have many good quality institutes which are well known and reputed because of the quality of education they give. An MITian is considered smart because he studied at mit. An iitian is considered smart because he got into iit. This is wrong, because then the point of providing education is lost. It’s not true that only the brightest should have access to good education. anyone with a willingness to learn should have access to it. and brilliance is generated at good institutes. the not so bright students can also acquire brilliance at a good institute. the author needs to remember this. iits may have developed a brand value due to the difficult selection process. but that was never the objective. yes the more intelligent ones should get first dips. but ultimately the idea was and is to produce skilled people who can contribute to the country. the more the better.
    the government of india will see this-iit’s have the best educational infrastructure(including teachers) in india. their needs to be a mechanism for these facilities to be available to more students. the government will not and should not care about the exclusiveness of iits.
    as far as the author’s point on government leaving higher education is concerned, it’s total rubbish.while primary education is important, even higher education is very important for the growth of the country. the author says the private sector should enter this area. india is filled with many colleges run by the private sector, ,. most of them are of very poor quality. this is a major problem in india. there are many underqualified graduates in india. the private sector cannot completely take over education in india just yet, government support and guidance is needed.
    the idea behind expansion of iits is perfectly right. for our huge population we do need a 100 such good institutes. however what can be questioned is the implementation of these ideas. that’s what is important, not the idea of setting up more iits.
    ps- i’m a 1st year btech student at iit-delhi.

    Comment by Sparsh — December 22, 2010 @ 7:27 am PST

  17. Its really a good post by Adita Jha.I read the post and all the comments,they all are shows the reality.

    Comment by Online IIT JEE Coaching — November 30, 2011 @ 9:26 pm PST

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