IIT Education, IIT Brand or Engineering [What do we want?]
The Guiding Light of the IIT JEE
While coaching is not a bad thing at all, but is engineering (education) only about cracking a particular exam like JEE and not about creating a sense of technology in the young ones? Thankfully IITs (JEE) have remained focused on getting brains since the beginning, but how do they evolve in future to get the best brains only and not the most prepared ones? Dealing with such a question requires one to look at things from higher social (and mental) pedestal. Something that our ministry of education is probably clueless about when it talks about only one examination for all engineering colleges.
On the flip side, the one-off exam and only few available seats build a lot of pressure – while an erudite prospect is supposed to easily handle such pressures, the non-qualifiers are thrown to trudge for years in absolute deprivation (or atleast that’s what we are led to believe). This is a very flawed approach to induct engineers and also something that needs an urgent fix. And our politicians think of killing coaching centers, like in Bihar recently, addressing the symptom instead of the inherent issue.
JEE is a great leveler
It doesn’t consider prior examinations or marks and knowledge of anything apart from Physics, Chemistry or Mathematics – the “core” science subjects. There is also no weightage assigned to 10+2 board exams (and all for good reason). However, is that all there should be for engineering? An exam?
A rampant struggle of JEE middle rankers who get into various streams of engineering like Chemical, Civil, Metallurgy, Mining etc. is another dilemma which even industry cannot resolve: Most students in these streams scored exactly the same marks in the JEE exam and just for the sake of ranking, randomization by means of computers algorithms is applied to give lucky ones mechanical engineering and the unlucky ones civil. And yet another irony of engineering in India is that even though only 10% of JEE qualifiers were Comp Sci graduates but a remarkable 70% of IIT graduates are in Computer Science industry i.e. coding related jobs – aka Google, MS, Infosys, Wipro & TCS types.
The Main Question
Most of the students at IIT (department notwithstanding) join a software job after IIT. Some others take the long flight to the US to do a PhD (and hopefully some research). This begs the question – Should Civil or Metallurgical engineering be put on the back-burner for the sake of software? Do the avenues to conduct real research exist in India (so that the researchers do not go abroad)? Lastly, inspite of their answers in MBA interviews, entrepreneurship is subconsciously inculcated but surprisingly not fostered at IITs. There has been a lot of change in this lately – however we are still way behind vis-a-vis colleges in the US. Read our post on how entrepreneurs are best young.
Barbarians at the Gates – Politicians and their interests
The stakeholder called Society:
Remember the old Bollywood movies where Dharmendra was more often than not a doctor? Every parent wished their child could be a doctor. Now that has changed. One can see there is a major fall in PMT applicants for medical courses. The Governments in past thirty years have screwed the medical infrastructure, quality of career, and charm of this highly accomplished service whereas the world is taking strides in genetic & medical research. Deliberate or not, is a different issue. This is going to happen to the field of engineering too if we continue to have decision making by the un-informed. Proactive analysis of the needs of our nation and planning for it are the need of the hour and NOT simply setting up more IITs (or AIIMS).