The first time I heard Jairam Ramesh have turned his guns on IITs; I thought it must be for the chopping of few trees by IIT Mumbai to build a new academic building. But sadly it is not the case. Mr.Ramesh’s dig at IITs & IIMs has got nothing to do with environment or ecosystem imbalance. His concerns were primarily regarding the quality of the faculties which these two premier institutes of India claim to have. According to him, both the institutes are big names only because of the brilliant students that enter its campus; not because of the quality of teaching or the people who teach there. So in nutshell – the institutes might be world class but the chaps who teach there are not. Bravo !! Points taken. But Mr.Ramesh, aren’t you by any chance infringing in Kapil Sibal’s domain? And before you question the quality of IIT professors and if they are world class or not; can you for once look within and let us know – if our politicians are world class too? The equation is simple – if you feel being the second fastest growing economy we ought to have world class faculties in our premier institutes; in the same notion, we ought to have world class politicians being the world’s largest democracy as well. Now I am half convinced, people with flamboyant hairstyles do always find themselves in the ducks for all the wrong reasons. Be it Sivraj Patil, Sashi Tharoor or Jairam Ramesh. There must be some correlation between good hairstyle and irresponsibility.
Having said that, I must admit, Jairam Ramesh is not entirely wrong. Let’s give the credit where it is due. I wonder why few self-styled individuals crying foul on what Jairam Ramesh said or didn’t say? Why bring pride in everything and play ostrich without accepting the facts? I admit the context and style in which he made these announcements might be wrong but it certainly can’t take away the facts that the whole idea and reason for having world class institutes like IITs is far from achieved. The root concept is in jeopardy which the great thinkers like Ardeshir Dalal foresaw a good 7 decades ago and the need of tomorrow for India to have brilliant minds to address the technology needs of the nation and make the nation technologically self-sufficient. Before jumping to any conclusion let’s take a pause and ask ourselves – Have we achieved that?
We still run around begging for that cryogenic engine. The achievement of ours in terms of defense innovation is the sole Arjun Tank. Let’s not boast too much about our missile technology; if not for that one man we would have been begging for them as well. We call ourselves as IT powerhouse where in what we have turned ourselves into a bunch of IT coolies. We don’t have an IBM, Oracle, Google or Microsoft of our own but yet take pride for Infosys and TCS which are in realty nothing but companies having lakhs of mules who are slogging like slaves without brain because they are cheap to get. So let’s get this straight – we are IT powerhouse not because we are extremely talented but because we are the cheapest dumb coolies one can get in international market. Barring Sam Pitroda, we don’t have anything to project in terms of our communication innovations. We haven’t our own fighter jets yet and depend heavily on Lockheed-Martin, MIG, French fighters to come to our rescue. The best thing in terms of locomotive that we can showcase to the world is the Tata-Indica and the Tata-Nano. We still borrow radar technology from Israel as we yet to come-up with our own. The list is endless.
I am sure the great thinkers like Mr.Dalal who thought of having a framework where we will end up being self-sufficient technologically must be turning in his grave. Pundit Nehru’s address at the first convocation of IIT-Kharagpur speaks a lot about the thought process behind the IITs and how miserably we have failed in it – ‘Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India's urges, India's future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India’. I am not arguing on whose fault it is. The simple question is – If we have world class institutes at our disposal with world class faculties and students then why there is not a single world class innovation yet? Something must be wrong somewhere or are we still hypocritical about the facts? So least we criticize Mr.Ramesh for speaking the truth would be better for us.
Look at what this year’s IIT-entrance toppers have to say when asked what they want to do in future. Call it our misery or bad luck; not a single soul I heard saying, he/she wants to go for research and innovation in future. All they wish to do is to crack yet another tough exam in future and land up in Indian Administrative service. With all respect to UPSC and our civil servants – are the IITs formulated to produce best civil servants or best technical brains? This is plain hijack of the core thought process. If your dream is to be a civil servant you don’t necessarily have to study in IITs. A simple degree from any college would suffice your requirement. Before anything this mindset has to change or if not just stop people from going erratic post their IIT stint as we can’t allow individuals to massacre the whole idea.
Least talked about the IIMs or for that matter any MBA college is better. For me they are always and would remain an over-hyped and over-paid lot. If we think by producing few gentlemen who would wear Armani suite and will love brown bread and scrambled eggs in future, we are going to change the state of the nation dramatically then we are fool to the bottom. The hefty pay cheque that these IIMs grads are offered every year by multinationals make me run around for credible reasons. My initial impression was – Wow!!, these guys must be doing great jobs. But gradually I realized how hyped the concept of MBA is. Not a single CEO of any big company I see has done any MBA. Be it Warren Buffet or Larry Ellison or for that matter Bill Gates or Peter Walton. This suggests; to be a great business man you certainly don’t need a business administration degree from IIM. Even if I am wrong in my conclusion then also I don’t see a single reason why we should be proud of our IIMs. Every year it always is the foreign companies who hire 90% of the students leaving almost nothing for our homegrown conglomerates to fetch. So what is the pride in there for producing such pseudo talents who ultimately go around and work for others? I don’t see Indian-Oil, SBI, LIC, Indian-Railways, Coal India, ONGC, Maruti Udyog having any of these Armani wearing giants in their payroll? So where is the bloody pride and for what?
Even if we take these MBA chaps at face value and believe they are doing a great job in building the nation for which they deserve lakhs and lakhs of rupees every month then just wondering what is stopping us in having more of them. Why only have 2.5K students from IIMs? Let’s increase it to 25K and change our nation to a gold mine within a year. What is the problem there? Why our HRD ministry not thinking on these lines? Because, I am sure if the seats are increased to 25K all of the lot would be seen distributing pamphlets on city malls giving that Rocket Sing wannabi impression. This is the realty. They are overvalued intentionally where as they still remain nothing at ground level. So why so much pride for a hype? We are a mature enough nation – let’s get out of this hypocrisy.
IITs have a problem in the way we run them but none can dispute the quality of the produce, which are for certain world class and we don’t need Steve Ballmer to acknowledge that or Jairam Ramesh to question that. But the concept of IIMs is nonsense and over-hyped. We might even do well if we divert the money we spend on them to core research institutes like IISc, RRL, Institute of Physics et all.
Mr.Ramesh, my vote is with you. You might be little erratic at times like when you banned BT Brinjal for no apparent reason or didn’t gave your nod for Mumbai airport to protect few snakes and mosquitos or conveniently forgo the security concerns while giving a green signal for UPA-II’s pet project at Jaitapur; but this time you certainly hit the nail in the skull with your comments for IITs & IIMs. You could have done a great help to yourself if you had uttered what you wanted to. Instead of attacking the faculties you should have attacked the miserable failure of the thought process behind these two institutes. In totality we have achieved nothing out of these two institutes except allowing uncountable number of coaching centers from Kota or elsewhere to loot students in the name of an IIT or IIM carrot. The best example of our achievements – Chetan Bhagat (IIT & IIM), writing books. Harsha Bhogle (IIM) giving cricket commentary. Certainly we have achieved our goals. Haven’t we?