Sunday, 19 August, 2007

More promises, more engineers… = more standard?

Quite encouraging a promise it was when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his speech to the nation on 15th August 2007 mentioned about 8 new IITs and 7 new IIMs. It’s a major rollout for higher education sector which caters to the global needs for engineers and managers. This promise if made a reality would bring out even more engineers in India every year, than the number that we see in today’s statistics which is more than 350,000 graduates per year. In a developing nation, which has just entered its 7th decade of democracy, the relevancy of creating more and more technical education centers is quite debatable. When India needs more boost to primary education, to create a stronger foundation, this debate has more points to discuss.

IITs are always known to the world as the de facto of Indian engineering education. It was once a dream for many of us to get there to do our engineering graduation. I’m certainly unaware of how they’re taught in IITs, but as a victim of the JEE I’m pretty sure that those who get in there really needs to have something in their head! So quite naturally all those rare species that pass out from various IITs are looked upon with utmost surprise and reverence by people like me. But lately I realize that this “rare species” are ultimately going to be not-so-rare in the country (if the mentioned proposal of the Planning commission becomes a truth!).

It’s a noble idea to give standard education to the masses when they’re qualified to do their graduation in engineering. But how sure can be this Planning commission about the standard that is expected to be maintained in the future IITs? Not even a week has passed since this proposal was made public; the chief minister of a “very influencing” state in India has written to the PM demanding the allocation of 3 such premier institutions in his state! check out

For any average Indian tracing Indian politics for the past 5 years can be pretty sure that this boon is going to be granted. If politics could influence such areas of higher education, how can we be sure about the standards?

There is another article which many of you would have read by this time. It was published in Education Plus supplement to The Hindu dated 14th August, 2007. check out

It clearly analyses the falls that CUSAT had to bear with, due to the increasing number of engineering colleges under the university. Now, since the final year results of Kerala University (2003-‘07 batch) is expected to be published soon, I don’t know if the newspaper will have to republish the article with proper changes in names!

The government has always played games with higher education sectors with different cards at different times- the reservation cards got lost unexpectedly this year. Since the market is demanding more grads with the engineering feather on their heads, it’s a natural and welcomed move by the government to set up more premier institutions across the country. We can just hope that we have brighter grads coming out to build a better nation…!


~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

I'll say its a welcome move from the govt to setup more institutes of higher education, only if they are able to have the same reputed faculty and the awesome infrastructure the IIT's and the IIM's boast of.

The exsisting IIT students will surely fight against this coz they won't be able to be in the elite group anymore. Its always good for the nation and i don't think setting up of an IIT or an IIM in a particular state will make the students of that state studious, since these institutes have national entrance exams. If that were the case, why don't we see more Mallu's in IIMK and more Assamese students in IIT Guwahati. Bt it ain't so, so lets hope this continues to be so.

I'll also like to bring your attention to this particular article that came in the Hindu.
‘Brain drain’ of a different kind

It talks about students struggling to finish their 12th std exams in the midst of all the Entrance rat races. So we should ask is it really the deserving crowd that gets into these institutes or the one's who think of formulas in their sleep and barf them out in the JEE's, CEE's and TNPCEE's!

Abhijith said...

I would agree with abhi in saying that this will be possible only if these new institutes have the faculty as qualified and experienced as the ones in the existing ones .

But I still feel that as a developing country , our focus should be on primary education because that's what will be helping us on a long term basis . I'm sure a country where all have completed primary school will progress better
than one with 2-3% highly educated people , with close to 40-45% people who haven't completed primary school .

First lets have primary schools in all the villages and then we can afford to think of IIT's and IIM's in all the states ..

Deepak said...

For a long time, on many issues I had this kind of argument - "That is more important for the nation, so the government should do that first and then this." Then I read Amartya Sen somewhere commenting that such a "one after the other" way of doing things cannot take a country to development. You will have to address many issues simultaneously.

So I feel its a good move to start new IITs and IIMs (and his speech, I believe, also mentioned about starting 30 new central universities).

The only reservation that i have is on starting educational institutions en masse like this. May be, it could have been phased in such a way as to achieve that target in 10 years or so. Otherwise none of them will get enough financial focus from the government and won't be able to attract enough good faculty. Educational sector can only grow, it cannot explode.

Another thing that the government has to keep in mind is that - "A government order and financial assistance alone cannot bring forth an excellent educational institution." Government should also invest its time and effort in finding the right people with the right vision and enthusiasm to steer ahead such big project.