Monday, July 21, 2008

Eye.ing the IITs



Amid the hot and happening headline news about the contentious Indo-US nuke deal which has replaced the food crisis as the latest means of heated arguments amongst roadside beggars over their subah ki cutting(begged, of course) and how home lavatories are a must for politicians to contest the forthcoming elections; I was shocked by the small paragraph that the TOI had devoted 2 days ago to the margins of the front page. I mean, it was a really long time since I had seen the word education on page 1. But as I said, it was just about a 3.5 cm article. They'd tried to compensate for their unknowing lack of discretion, I suppose. :l Anyhow, here goes: As many as eight new IITs would be set up in the country during the current academic session to impart high quality technical education. And of course, no elaborations.

Being a believer myself, I ventured to do a bit of a probity probe, [the Internet, being much more considerate, yielded cause and execution] and to my astonishment, found out that the system had gone in for 7 IIMs in addition!


Understandably, the first emotion I experienced was regret, that I wasn't in a position to attempt JEE a year later. [Not in the least because I would've got into one of the prestigious schools, but because I could've boasted that I lost the rat-race by 360 seats less. Matters, see. :) ] But then, my mind registered amazement. Three of these proposed institutes, apparently, planned to initiate functioning in castaway laboratories and rented premises! The media, and consequently the public have sparked up hot debates on the most obvious point that this proposal gives rise to: the dilution of quality due to quantity. Won’t having more IITs and IIMs simply fritter the premium on quality that these institutes have? Can a mere increase in numbers guarantee a consistency in the quality of education imparted? Rather than unfocussedly increasing the IIT count, why not pump that money to improve infrastructure and faculty in the existing IITs?? And so on and so forth in all possible strings of words, citing hundreds of instances. All worth its salt. A demure interposition though. More than the quality of the education imparted to the students who get into IIT, doesn’t the quality of the students who get into IIT in the first place matter more? As a maiden venture, what was IIT designed to be? An institute, whose main objective is to pick up the crème-de-la-crème of the student herd in the world and aid them in the process of being more so. Mark it! Not any Tom, Dick and Harry. So just as the best students existing rightfully claim that they deserve to be in IIT, doesn’t IIT rightfully deserve to select only the best among the best available?


At this point in time, some people might argue that all humans are born equal and hence reserve equal rights to education in the elite group of schools. That the reason IIT should increase its intake is to provide education par excellence to the maximum possible students. I perfectly agree with the first part of the first statement. Born parity. I assure you, I was born as piercingly naked as Chetan Bhagat. Born equals. Both attended high-school and studied, more or less, the same syllabus.[I’m assuming he did.] But then, why the hell am I graduating from COEP when Bhagat graduated from IIT? : ( I suppose you get the idea. Somewhere down the line, the difference in our academic abilities, and more than that, the difference in our pedantic personalities showed up. We cease to be equals from the moment we’re born. Henceforth, our actions, abilities and choices inevitably decide our level for us. We remain equals only in the sense that we are humans.

Simply for the sake of a means of classification, let us assume that the amount of marks(obtained by a person) is a measure of one’s intelligence, since that is, by far, the only unbiased criterion of candidate-selection. [Of course, there are several notable cases in point of people being far more intelligent than what their marks show, the most remarkable case being mine :) ] Directly, and very simply, implying that a particular level of intelligence gets appreciated, and accepted, and levels below it are not. Simply because they do not deserve to be. Or because there are enough people more deserving than them. I admit, I do not deserve to be in IIT. (I deserve more. :D) There should be enough seats in IIT only for those who are QUALIFIABLE, and not for all who are there. Citing the continual increase of population as a rationale to increase the number of IITs is inexplicably hollow. IITs and IIMs are niche institutes and not shop floors. However, they are not exceptional only because they provide top-notch tutelage but because the pool of talent that they gather is top-notch in itself. They are shaping and honing it, they are manoeuvring it, not creating it. But more IITs will mean more seats to fill. Which will put students having significantly lesser capabilities on par with the ingenious ones. Which will have some very direct negative implications:

1. Where is the competition? Why would anyone study to get 99 per cent if he could get into the institute even for a paltry 80 percent? It hampers the analytical and intellectual growth of the pupil, quite the opposite of what the IIT intends isn’t it? Curbing the need to excel is probably the most cruel treatment a student can be subjected to.

2. Pushing relatively low IQ people into coping alongside the flawlessly brilliant ones is the worst that you could do to them. Smothering mediocre students with stellar education won’t do much; it will only result in grossly inefficient utilization. Of both resources, and manpower. Inferiority complexes galore; is it a surprise that the number of suicide cases registered by the nationwide IITs only increases with each passing year?

3. And with the tight compromisations on coaching faculty, the net outcome 4 years hence would be [provided they manage to survive] engineers who’ll probably earn their bread and butter but who wouldn't outlast two hoots in a competitive environment like, say, the international market. The premises of the IIT would be transformed into commonplace manufacturing facilities churning out an x number of average, unremarkable professionals.

Or in short, we return to the same point in question, but with a substantial variation.
Dilution of quality, not because of absolute quantity, but because of inept, raw, undeserving quantity. And the only way we can pull ourselves out of this mess is by starting right down at the beginning. Right from KG, inculcate within you the will to learn and grow yourself. Keep a guard on your own quality as a student; sterling institutions are bound to follow. Do not whine that a student who got 90 per cent last year got into IIT but you couldn’t get into it this year with the same per cent. That’s because the value of 90 per cent was appreciable enough till last year, but not NOW. “Survival of the fittest” alludes a tad too well to today’s world.

I believe the number of IITs should be increased, or for that matter, any other institute should be upgraded ONLY if there is an increase of intelligent population. The system should focus on elevating the masses to the IITs, and not depreciating the IITs to the masses. More than 40 per cent of the Indian population is still illiterate. Provide them with basic primary education so that they are able to fend for themselves. Enhance and innovate. Dissolve the reservation system that eats into people's acumen and misguides them into quiescence, thereby establishing equality in the real sense. So that the average maturity level increases. So that people become aware of how powerful education and cognizance and intellect are.
So that there might come one day in the world, when “getting into IIT” isn’t such a big deal anymore; not because there are enough seats to accommodate everyone(indeed, that is practically inviable), but because everyone has scored 99+. Because then, you won’t need the stamp of IIT, or for that matter, even Stanford or Oxford or any other institution to project YOUR quality; You yourself are the stamp, and the logo.
And the philatelist, is God.

24 comments:

Sameer said...

wtf? i can't read anything..... increase the font size!!!

anu said...

:|

Sameer said...

okay if not increase the font size, at least change the font!
i can read the comments but not the post :P

anu said...

how much more??? :\

Sameer said...

ok forget i will use "ctrl +" in my firefox :|

abhi said...

wel written, but anu, PLS INCREASE THE FONT - i would obviously use "ctrl +" too like your friend mentioned, but it would just be nicer to increase the font so that each time each one doesn't have to do that! lol..

Sameer said...

Finally read the post.....How can you write such a long post??

anyways i think that why they want more IITs only? means why they should be named as IITs only? There are NITs also.... So start the new colleges as NITs or something else and if then they are good enough make them IITs.....

Also i don't agree much with you on increasing the capacity of the current IITs... the institutes are now only facing shortage of quality profs...where will they get more in that case????

Also everyone is born as equal but everyone does not grow as equals.....

anu said...

sameer: you seem NOT to have read the entire thing. :| i'm against the entire idea of branding institutions. Institutions are not what their facilities make them but what their students make them. I never said increase the number of IITs. In fact that's precisely what I'm against.

What I mean to say is, there's no use in introducing ANY institute if you don't have the student quality who deserve that kind of education. It's not only about IIT or NIT. It's about any school worth its salt. Do you think that you are worth studying in it? Do you think you can grasp the way that school wants to teach you? Will you be able to withstand the rigorous tests they put you through? If not, what's the point?

And what you said is what I believe. We definitely don't grow as equals.

anu said...

Oh and yeah! I do have a penchant for writing long posts. I just go on writing. And they turn out like cloth in a mill :)

Sameer said...

arre i was not opposing you on that point....in fact i just added to what you have written....

but also think that there are more than enough talented and deserving students in this country who are worth the better education.

number of suicides is not directly proportional to the level of students.... there are many other factors.... i never heard that there are not enough good guys in the IITs... now a days these questions will arise because of reservations :|

anu said...

so why is the cutoff going down every year??

student suicides increase mainly because there are very few who study for the sake of learning. most of them join classes that train them maniacally for TWO years 365*24*7 just for getting into IIT. and they get in, sure, but not on their intellect. It's because of plain over-practice. but once they get inside, they simply aren't able to cope with intellect in there and collapse, aren't able to perform under pressure, go into depression and ultimately end up ending their lives.

Reservations have an entire unjust story of their own. I don't wish to go into that. It's useless :|

greySith said...

I quote,
"And the only way we can pull ourselves out of this mess is by starting right down at the beginning. Right from KG, inculcate within you the will to learn and grow yourself."

And then,
"...most of them join classes that train them maniacally for TWO years 365*24*7 just for getting into IIT."

Do you imagine how silly the idea of channeling your mind from the time you're in KG is? I for one think that the innocence of a child is too pure to be tarnished by such nonsense. For all this time, every student has held himself as a hallmark of his own excellence. Sure, getting out of an IIT is a great way to begin your career, but if you're an inept individual from the start, you're not going to go too far. On the other hand, you'll see often enough that some really brilliant chaps study in the seediest colleges imaginable. And yet I'll vouch for the fact that these lads/[feminine for lad]s will end up doing a lot more with their lives than the inept people from the IITs will. It's as simple as that. Your college may matter say 3-4 years after graduation (maybe a little longer for an IIT degree), after that, you're on your own.

You could argue that many brilliant people are IIT graduates, yetcan you account for the ones that graduated from an IIT and did nothing with it? Lets face it, if a brilliant guy graduates from a Genba Sopanrao Moze college and does great things, you're not going to have the media harping over how he's from 'the' GS Moze college of engg.

The whole IIT brand name is more of one of these for our country and it's collective psyche more than anything else.

anu said...

greysith:

Hold it!

I'm sorry I was not able to express myself in a more comprehendable way; I never meant put your child into a gruelling shift of classes from KG than from two years before he takes JEE [if that's what you understood by the sentence.] I said "inculcate within you the will to learn and grow yourself". Learn to think logically, analytically. And I think logic is the base of life. It's not something to be mugged up for an exam. And it's not something you can achieve forcibly. It's just something that you need for moving on. Anywhere. It's only so much that you can get by leaning on others. Some people are blessed with born analytical minds. Those who aren't just have to attain it manually. And for that, you don't need to force immensely complex superposition theorems(yes!) on them before they can even write. You can design simple games, puzzles, crosswords, anything that works the mind in a planned way. And kids who can't/don't/won't get their minds tarnished this way will ultimately end up just the way you don't want them to be. Inept.

"Keep a guard on your own quality as a student; sterling institutions are bound to follow.."
self-explanatory.

"Simply for the sake of a means of classification, let us assume that the amount of marks(obtained by a person) is a measure of one’s intelligence, since that is, by far, the only unbiased criterion of candidate-selection.."

Undeniably, there are too many cases to be ignored that involve brilliant people not getting their worth. No system in the world, as of now, is strong enough to provide the correct things to all the correct people. There could be so many reasons why one couldn't perform on-the-spot and hence fell out of the race..maybe the lad/y got sick..missed his/her train..had an accident on exam-day..whatever. So h/she couldn't perform well and got into [for lack of creativity on my part] GSM college. That doesn't mean that's their level. But then, they don't need to care, do they? As you said, if they have the capability, and the will, they'll do it anyhow.

Because ultimately, more than anything else, it's YOU who're responsible for your achievements. Why even those 3-4 years? For the greater part of life, to quote you, you're on your own. And that's the best thing that could happen to anyone, me thinks! You don't need the so-called stellar institutes for being successful goddamnit!

So that there might come one day in the world, when “getting into IIT” isn’t such a big deal anymore"

...you won’t need the stamp of ...any other institution to project YOUR quality.."

So finally, we culminate to the same viewpoint dude. Collective psyche and the majority needn't necessarily be right everytime. You just arrived in a different way, towing one more aspect that I hadn't touched upon. And I got a chance to understand my own post more. I had actually meant a lot more without meaning to!
Cheers :)

greySith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
greySith said...

Wait...

"...I never meant put your child into a gruelling shift of classes from KG..."

What?

Anyhow, I still hold the opinion that you shouldn't be making small children do anything of the sort you suggest. Remember, everyone is good at something. I know a guy who'd probably fail at least half of your tests. And he did fail the 12th. Twice. Then he left science, and is now a respected student in a good college. The basic fact is that there is no single yardstick for intelligence.
Intelligence in itself is so hard to define. There's no evidence to suggest that the same guy, given a different environment to grow in wouldn't turn out to be a stonkingly good engineer. What does need to change is the educational system up to 10+2. But wait - it already is changing - for the worse. I've seen the textbooks the ever-glorified CBSE board introduces every year. I have seen question papers that ask class 5 students to 'Name any two smells you like'. What can you expect from students who've answered such questions? The whole system is being dumbed down to an extent that's hard to imagine.
I certainly agree that a 90% last year is worth a lot more than a 90% this year. Heck I'd wager stupid sums of money a 60% twenty years ago is worth more than a 95% today. The whole system is just wrong!

The complete mess that we find ourselves in today tempts me to quote some more. While I may sound maniacal to people who know me, think about the lines I quote. I think they make a lot more sense than people who wrote the lines ever thought they would.

1. "Introduce a little anarchy."

2. "The only decent way to live in an indecent world is chance. Unbiased, fair."

And somehow I'm even more muddled up than I was before I wrote this.

Gah

Note: The earlier comment was deleted because I'd quoted wrong

anu said...

You speak as if I'm trying to throw them into Gubraithian fire or something! :|

Of course, everyone is good at something! But what's the point of his "goodness" if he doesn't get a chance to use it? You say, there's no evidence to suggest that the same guy, given a different environment to grow in wouldn't turn out to be a stonkingly good engineer. But if he doesn't get that environment, he has to try to create it! There's no point in saying "Had I got a chance, i would've excelled." Nothing lamer.

And by the bye, this argument is going completely elsewhere.

I'll comment on the last few lines later.

greySith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
greySith said...

No, no, no no no. You just don't get it. You cannot create the best conditions for yourself when you're a child or even an adolescent. I cannot fathom why you would want a child to be worrying about his future at so young an age. You do realise that he/she is a child? You almost want to treat them as grown ups. But here's the whole problem- they're not. Effectively, it means shortening childhood in a day and age when one's childhood is already so short. All the good that will do is further muddle up the youth of tomorrow. There is no way out of the whole problem except one - the second line I quoted.

Apologies for the second deleted post. Typos beating me today by an innings and 1000 runs. In a T20. :|

greySith said...

And the second quote should be -
"The only morality in a cruel world is chance - Unbiased, Unprejudiced. Fair."

anu said...

And you do not realize that I'm not trying to suggest they start worrying about their future since..day 1! In fact, never. Future's a very big word. It happens as it comes. And it happens of its own accord. And you still might not have it your way, after all the hassle.

My post doesn't culminate into the suggestion that if one has to get into IIT (damn me if i know why one is so desperate to, in the first place!) he has to lose his childhood and innocence and become a hardcore problem solver per se. You are getting me completely wrong! Why are you bent on implying that I imply that people need to lose their bachpan ke din to achieve success?
The moment you come into this world, your innocence factor starts decreasing directly as a function of your contact with the world. But at the same time, your maturity and understanding increases correspondingly. You learn from what you do. Whatever you do. You stick to your mother like fevicol till one day, she shakes you off because she has more pressing work to attend to. You thought you couldn't stay without her. But now, you have to, like it or not. You thought mum wouldn't leave you alone among a bunch of cruel-looking and nasty-smelling people in the huge building; you were supremely confident. But leave you she did. You learn that everything doesn't always be the way you want it to be. You learn to adjust, to make others adjust, to survive. You read, learn from others. Learn what people in this world have done till now. Eventually, you discover your own talents, your interests, things you like doing, a thing or two, probably which you can do better than many others. And you start bettering yourself in that area; maybe with a primitive blueprint of a probable "future" in mind.
I assume that's what you wanted to put through as "childhood". TIME. To get to know yourself alongwith others. To understand life.

Somewhere, during this time, you realize that whatever you are doing is for yourself. So that when you look back in life, you will regret the minimum possible number of times. That's the whole idea! And you can't do that unless you realize it. That realization, naturally, is at different points in life for different people. And THAT awareness is more than enough motivation you need to perform ahead. And what I want to say is that this realization must hit you as early as possible.

If this sounds like another level of psychology-cum-philosophy-cum-sophisticated riffraff altogether (and if you think it is too difficult for a pre-pre-teen to fathom that), there could be nothing more misunderstood. You are inadvertently answerable to yourself. Won't you like yourself to be known (to others) as an intellectual, as logically self-sufficient? Any one will. But more than to others, to himself. WHY? Because it is not something that can be achieved by stealth, fraud, extortion, corruption or by any unfair means. It's something that you truly achieve (if you do). You might manage to pass yourself off as a cuttingly brilliant persona to the entire world (even if you are not), but never to your own self. And the prospect of getting that satisfaction drives, if not millions, at the least, hundreds of perpetually lethargic people to start somewhere, sometime.

So at the end of the day, you do it because you want to. And you want to because you like doing it. Not because of some compulsions or pre-conceived notions.
If only people'd realize that they would genuinely like being intelligent, that they'd truly enjoy it! That brainwork is one of the best assets man/woman can ever have.

anu said...

And I'm more inclined towards being biased on your jocular stand of chance being unbiased. That's because a) chance, more than often, defies reason. And being human beings, reason is our fundamental basis of decision. b) chance has a tendency of getting manipulated in favour of the more clever side. Wherein it again gets underplayed by intelligence and unforeseen logic.

If you think of a system wherein chance is the ultimate judge, you grossly overestimate the probability of its effectiveness in a human society. There would be scandal! Why would anyone willingly give way to chance, if his life depends on it? Would you toss a coin to decide whether you're murdering someone who stole your girlfriend? And then would the judge toss a coin or pluck out bougainvillea petals to decide if you should be hanged? Oh! And who would decide who would punish who? Or would everyone toss coins and draw lots? And of course, colleges and schools would replace their admission forms by mints, very convenient :|

"The only decent way to live in an indecent world is chance. Unbiased, fair." Is that it? Well, if you leave things to chance, you'd be striving to see a bit of the world, indecent or otherwise.

greySith said...

I'd written one long thing... and then the lights went out :|

meh

I'll type it out again. One day.

anu said...

How can you bear not being able to convey what you wanted to??

I would've typed it out again in fury. And then possibly could've been more stupid by not thinking backup. And of course, as if on cue, lights would've gone off again.

:|

I'll be all eyes.

greySith said...

I'd actually written it out in notepad... if only I'd thought of alt+f+s (Yes I do know about ctrl+s). Aaargh.