IIT for International Institute of Technology

IIT may brand "Indian" worldwide, but functionally, it wouldn't raise many eyebrows if called "International Institute of Technology". Only difference it would carry is, to get into it you need to be an Indian or NRI. To get out of it is fully "International - go anywhere".

Recently, a govt. panel recommended a sharp 5-fold increase in fees to help them remain independent. After 60 long years, govt. realised the investment it was making into IITs weren't going anywhere into the country, so it took decision to pass the burden of education to students themselves.

Some govt. institutes have a policy of mandatory work for students it sponsors. It means the college bears the fees as well as provides scholarship for education. In return, students are obliged to work for certain no. of years. for the sponsoring institution. They can also get relieved of it provided they deposit a certain large sum of money. Prime examples are SCRA (Special Class of Railway Apprentice) and AFMC (Armed Forces Medical College).

I wonder why IITs never had such a provision even after 6 decades.
SCRA and AFMC are much smaller institutes wrt. IITs. The investment brought into IITs are also high-worth. In recent times there has been significant Alumni contribution to IITs. Still, more or less they have run on govt. large-hearted aids (which runs into several crores) to sustain and maintain the high-standards. I wonder why govt. never had any provisions for IITians to work in PSUs or return the aid by cash, given that brand IITian became bigger and bigger as they showed their potential in international market of technology, significantly in US. In fact, I want to go a step ahead. I suggest that Govt. should prefer to get the returns through "work" only rather than "cash-back", given it is not short of cash after all! This may be done either by making the barrier of return-cash high, or extending the degree into PhD programmes which automatically includes research and development at ground level.

When I posted it on my facebook wall, there were expectedly sharp reactions. Many argue that it may amount to forced or bonded labour. Students should have a free will to choose their work place or work nation. At least, they should always have a "be-free" policy by paying back the cash through loans or whatever feasible medium.

Frankly, I am not against it. As long as one graduates from a private college, pays the requisite fees on its own (or via loan), one can work for anyone, at anywhere. Concept of "Free will" lies only till at the path you're taking all steps on your own. If the ladder of aid is provided not by ourselves, our obligation towards it rises.

Is IIT a public charity from govt.? I guess NO. It's not a primary/secondary education to impart basic knowledge of life, nation, nature to people. Govt. of India established top technology institutions by donating large funds almost 5-6 decades ago, when India was not so rich, however, it had a vision of "technological independence". It saw how technology changes the economy, it realised we must own it, instead of ending up buying from already established technology-based economies of US and EU. It was an expensive investment, but in long run it was expected to generate multiple-fold results in form of technological innovation in the country.

Sadly, it did not happen. Even after providing world class facilities, faculty and top-class science students, it did not achieve any such goals even after half-a-century. Instead, it turned out to be a Labour Supplier to the world economy. It became a channel to create well trained engineers in almost all disciplines ready to take up advanced technological challenges either in US/EU universities or their companies. In the end, IITs indeed produced many sharp world-class engineers, but not for India or its companies, but for US/EU. IITs are indirectly supporting a highly technology dependent economy of US/EU. In crude terms of investment, Govt. of India is pouring large stash of funds to sustain and grow world economy than its own!

What is Govt. of India? It's set of representatives elected by people, and to work for "People of India" at large, not specific to individuals. Then, why IITs (and IITians) which are almost fully funded by govt. do not contain any direct responsibility to the Indian nation? Had it been a private instt. it'd been a different question. But it isnt!

Had our PSUs fallen out-of-shape if IITians were fed in it?

Had our institutes lacked the faculty class if enough IITians were fed in it?

Worst, had we turned into a labour nation if enough IITians were fed in India to create the economy and system?

For me, the hopeful answer is No. Even if best-in-class students may have shied away from IITs had the stringent work policy put in place, even average-in-class students would've done wonders for these govt. institutions, given indian culture for studies and no shortage of sharp students.

Many (often portrayed in media) are happy the way IITians have shined worldwide (read US/EU). They even claim to have benefitted India at large by creating outsourcing jobs. This has turned India into a horrible image of labour force. We basically work for world : give us any work and we are up for it, anywhere. It was envisioned to create economy and systems in India by putting IIT-trained students into it, what turned out was most IITians went the west way.

Why are IITians flowing by the west wind? Free movement of labour, Free trade are is what I hear(well those who still bet for it, listen to UK and US since recession). You get opportunities in systems already in place in US and already in advanced stage and ready to capture you, but weren't these same systems supposed to be created in India which could create such opportunities in future?. You get the best price for your education in US, but wouldn't that have been offset by creation of new technologies right here in India?

I think IITs have been great. Govt. has done a decent job funding it. With time, we have developed great IIT culture to excel, but it rather looks like that we have stopped at a 'self-centric' and 'technology-centric' approach, missing the "country-centric' approach like that of govt., our sponsor. In fact, for over two decades, even "technology-centric" approach has died down : hardly students take up and continue their technology discipline, literally wasting all the training (think of a trained boxer dying to play cricket)..a senior '89 batch from IIT Kanpur wonders only 3-4 batchmates are left in technology domain out of 25. But for system to work the approach has to be system-centric than self-centric..no team excels with individual excellence but only with vital team contributions.

More often than not we picked individual-self than the systems we were meant to be part of.

By utilising IITians zeal and on-par technical training, we can improve our systems at par with others..most of our systems need it..have needed it all the way..

(with inputs from atul narayan, binit jha)

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