May 4, 2006

Another IIT question

News Clipping (courtesy TOINS):
A 23-year-old Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K) student, Shailesh Sharma, on Wednesday committed suicide by hanging himself in his hostel room...
According to Shailesh’s batchmates, he had failed in advanced thermodynamics for third time in a row and had shared his failure and acute distress with his classmates...
On November 30, a similar case was witnessed when mechanical engineering second-year student Dharaskar Swapnil Chandrakant had committed suicide by jumping from the roof of the administrative block. The IIT-K authorities had then attributed stress as factor behind the incident. Shailesh is the fifth IIT-K student to have committed suicide.

The whole presumption of the 49.5% reservation argument is that IITs are elitist, and 'deserving' candidates are being denied the opportunity to obtain quality education.

That is not the problem. It is a symptom. With due respect to all SC/ST candidates, if they are unable to get through open competition for IIT seats, it is because of weak academic background and lower-quality education they are provided before JEE. That is a real problem which the Govt should work to solve. In stead of reducing fees at IIMs, they should invest in primary and secondary schools.

What they are doing instead is buring their heads in the sand like ostriches, reserving seats and getting in people who are not ready for an IIT education.

IIT is not a lottery. In fact, JEE is where the ordeal really begins. As the above news item proves, an IIT education is rigorous and unforgiving of the weak. All 4 years are like JEE over and over again. But forcing people in, they are doing more damage to their cause, instead of uplifting them. What will they do when these problems come up? Reserve a %age of pass grades for category students, to support them rise above their weak academic background?

And I'm not even going to begin about the impact on the 'IIT' brand. I dont think people who label the IITs 'elitist', can understand or care two hoots about the 'IIT Brand' (Never mind the BBC and others who do stories on this).

Having flunked a few courses and seen tough times at IIT myself, I truly feel sorry for Shailesh and others like him, and many more who will be forced to suffer the same fate by myopic and populist politicians.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:18 AM

    All this discussion about the "problem" and the "symptom" seems like a very microscopic analysis of the situation... which is something we Indians are really good at.

    What we really need to do is look at the big picture. Is the idea of reserving 49.5% of seats reasonable when everyone knows how competitive education is in India? No. Why on earth would it be proposed? Considering it's the same old corrupt govt. that ousted a very economically successful minority govt.... this is most likely to handicap the nation and throw it into utter confusion so that no real work could be done and nothing of substance could be accomplished. Why? So that this country keeps stumbling on from one decade to the next in poverty and filth... when it is a country that has the resources and ability to be one of the leading economies in the world.