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.
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.