#Education Opinion

If not in the IITs, where are the best brains of our country?

“Apart from the top 20% of students who crack the tough IIT entrance examination and can stand among the best anywhere in the world, quality of the remaining 80 per cent of students leave much to be desired.” This statement came from Infosys’ chairman emeritus, Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, and was received with a thundering applause by a Pan-IIT audience. The first thing which struck me was if not in IITs, then where are these bright minds, as referred to by Mr. Murthy going?! It further intrigued me what suddenly made him come up with such a “sweepingly high handed” remark. After much pondering I contemplated that the number of IITians joining Infosys must have been considerably rising! 😛

On a serious note, according to Mr. Murthy, the mushrooming of coaching institutes is a deterrent to the quality of students qualifying for arguably the toughest exam in the world. But, I would like to ask him a question, “Do you think the current curriculum followed in any of the higher secondary boards sufficient to crack JEE?” The students go to the coaching institutes because they produce results and they are pretty much visible. As they say seeing is believing. As a matter of fact 95% of the students clearing the JEE have reportedly been taking coaching in some form or the other. I believe there is nothing wrong in it, obviously if one strives to be among the best he would not care for the means, and he shouldn’t either. With the framework of the education system entirely dependent on rote learning, there is no way one can have the cutting edge without some extra guidance. Ultimately it all comes down to the vicious circle of the education system, coaching industry and the Joint Entrance Examination, with the IITians becoming a soft target now and then, more so, in the recent past.

My point here is: why take a dig on the students, rather than doing something to restructure the current education system to prevent the so-called influence of the coaching mandis like Kota, who just help the so-called not-so-good students with the so-called pattern recognition techniques and make them clear the exam. On the retrospect, I believe even if such not-so-good students are able to clear this exam they are probably much smarter than the bright kids and are able to find the loopholes in the system, optimise their efforts accordingly and cash on it! Why make a fuss over it! Don’t we believe in getting the smart people on the table!! I know it sounds a bit rhetorical but then, do spare a thought.

Good research in India is as scarce as hen’s teeth and in this context I would like to put this question to Mr. Murthy, an IIT alumnus himself: why don’t you come forward and invest in quality research? Why do you need to ask the government to fund it? When you are setting your sight on making the quality of research in India at par with the MITs and the Harvards, why don’t you yourself take a stand as the Googles and the Microsofts?? Moreover, in India a Ph. D. student is looked down upon by even the undergraduates, and most corporates do not even recruit them. How are you possibly going to change this prejudiced mindset, another impediment to quality
research work in our country?

Some understandings I generated for the falling standards are: the increased quota system (I didn’t want to bring it here, but then had to), the number of attempts for JEE going down to 2 since 2006, the increasing number of IITs, the decreasing number of world-class faculty members: all lend a hand to the declining standards of IIT, but the bottom line is: come what may, these students are still the

All said and done, I wish to know why Chetan Bhagat (another IIT alumnus … sigh!) cannot mind his own business (if at all he has any) and has to poke his nose in every other news relating to IIT—a publicity stunt?? I hope not, but sounds very probable considering his new book release was on the cards. I just hope he doesn’t sit down on a fast (which seems to be the coolest thing today) next time someone takes the IITians to task! After all, after Sex and SRK, the new phrase is “Sex and IITs sell”. On hindsight, I expected Mr. Jairam Ramesh as well to come up with furore against Mr. Murthy, but sadly he did not.

Finally, a man of the stature of Mr. Murthy, having all the resources at his behest, should probably come up with measures to ensure that only the best pass through this filter of JEE, and rather than demeaning the efforts of the 17–18-year-old kids, who innocently work hard to make the best out of whatever pathetic system they are given, he should be focusing his energies on nurturing these minds to put India higher on the global map.

Signing off,
A non-IITian, who would have liked to be in an IIT, even if it meant to be a part of the remaining 80%.

P.S: I just hope CB doesn’t come up with a loooooooong post in this Sunday’s TOI editorial.

About the author

Nirvaan Baid

management student- cheerful, amiable, optimistic, having a penchant for writing..:)


  • Well put man, Nirvaan 🙂 Letting a not-so-smart rule 10 years of his life as a kid, is enough of a wake up call for the smarter ones. Having said this, if they find coaching institutes as the best promoters in vicinity, help them.. Mr. Murthy, and many like me who could not clear the gates of IIT to find better promoters.. problems are raised by all. solutions prevail..

  • See I am not a very good judge of literature but I really liked this article. Won’t say it as the best of recent time or something like that b’coz even u know that the best is still to be achieved.. but yaa it’s very thoughtful, argumentative, knowledgeable. It’s really nice to read… I agree with your opinion.

    Suggestion: Try to make your opinions a bit of unbiased. This will enhance both the quality and acceptability of your thoughts.

    • point taken, but if you really read between the lines, i have criticised both the parties involved in this debate…although the topic suggests that i am biased against Mr. Murthy..but that’s only because that was my first reaction on the remark by him..However.. point taken..(once again;))

  • I wish i could LIKE murtaza’s comment. It indeed is.

    A couple of things as well along with your thoughts:

    1. On what grounds/survey/findings did he say 20%?!!

    2. Those students who didn’t get into IIT after going to the “same coaching institutes” went to the other engineering colleges. Doesn’t this make the students who cracked IITJEE a bit smarter and brighter?

    3. World Class faculties in IITs? Possibly true!! but It sounds like a direct insult to the newly recruited faculties.

  • Rather thn releasin low-Cost tabs the eduction ministry should concentrate on issues lik these and make sure the students are judged by thr real ‘Brain’ and not jus the trained entrance results! The effort is appreciated Nirvaan. Good one .

  • Well written Nirvaan…. you have definitely covered all the major aspects regarding the statement by Mr. Murthy. Thumbs up….

    I would just like to disagree or rather understand your point that how does reducing the no. of attempts hampers the quality of students in JEE…

    Again, great work!!!

    • Hi rohit, first of all thanks you liked it…Speaking on the topic, well, it won’t be altogether right to say that the quality of IITians have started falling because of the reduced no. of attempts, but that is something which might be possible if at all we consider Mr. Murthy’s statement to be true to any extent…!

  • @Nirvaan: Hey, brilliantly put man. I’m surprised you haven’t written earlier for NTMN. Opinion need not be funny, as you pointed out, and the content of the article was good enough for me to enjoy it without any aspects of humour. 🙂
    Hope to see more opinionated articles coming in from you.

    @Amritha: The Ministry just publicised the release of the Low-Cost tablets. The IITians worked on it, developed it and spread the knowledge to the Ministry. Yes, I agree the Ministry funded the entire project, but they should have given more publicity to the students who worked day and night while managing their studies. And this from a mediocre IIT student society, as Mr. Murthy says.

  • Well certainly in future, it will very very diffcult to judge the best, few might join foreign unversities or private engg colleges, but mostly it will lost. Few will succeed and shine, but in general 50% of life, they will spend proving that yes they are worthy and people should follow their ideas. Even when currently it is known that iitians are exceptional, their ideas are shunned or even opposed by managers, senior colleagues at big corporates and even goverments. Most IITians, learn to adjust and just do mundane job. With IIT quality expected to go down drastically, being in IIT might means that u are worthless, either came their becuase of reservation 50%, or other 50% politician reservation.

  • @Nirvaan Baid:

    Regarding CB..Dont you think if someone abuses your past college/school or its student you should react to it in wat so ever.Thts wat CB has did and has been doing.

    Btw we will be glad if you mention your university(if at all u have a degree and I am sry if u dont.)

    PS:Not a fan of CB.I will react if someone abuses my college.Certainly IITian.

    • no doubt one would react to any negative comments towards its alma-mater, but then I am only talking about the way he reacted, not the reason.

      Btw, m from Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Gwalior (B.E+M.B.A).Certainly not an IITian!

  • why doesn’t anyone bring up the quality of JEE question paper as a reason for the declining standards of the students in IIT. The question paper is no more competitive when it can be cleared by anyone and not only the bright minds. The reason they say for an easy question paper is that they want students who don’t get coaching. In that case no one should comment about the quality of students. As you sow so u reap!! Remember… quality of students was good when JEE was one of the toughest papers! Apparently it is not right now.

    Final year student – IIT Madras

    • @Janarthan: I agree only partially with your point of view and that is because after all it’s a relative test, and the mettle of the student doesn’t really depend on the difficulty level of the examination…Nevertheless this does account partially for the decline of standards, but certainly cannot be the most important reason!Btw, thanks for reading..:)

  • Coaching Institutes, are making up for the incompetence of the prescribed syllabus of Higher-Secondary Boards,to make the students understand and apply concepts better.In fact ,the focus of some reputed institutions have been on conceptual understanding and not rote learning. If there is actually a decline in the quality of student entering these premier institutions, it can be attributed to majority of factors , among which coaching institutions, are definitely not the protagonists.

    Personally, i hold the faulty government policy primarily responsible. The essence of reservation is to uplift the backward classes. To do that , the idea is to work towards improving them and bringing them at par with the national standard. True they should be given reservations to ease their entry into premier institutions,and a high reservations as 50% is enabling this, but it hasn’t raised student their quality in any way.

    The government hasn’t worked on raising the quality of education for these students, at secondary and higher secondary level, but has brought down the level of Higher education institutions in order to show that there are more people from backward classes studying there.This shortsighted policy is hampering the progress entire nation and has many intangible outcomes.

    This is not all, at present many students at IIT’s think that the IIT tag is our sorcerer’s stone. True, it is going to help us, but we must not forget that, this tag was created because of wonders from our alumni,globally. Their success was an outcome of relentless hardwork,just the tag wont do.We need to continue that work.

    To conclude,Yes! there perhaps is a minor decrease(80% is a bit high-handed

    ).But, a single factor is not responsible for the situation we have here. So it is going to require an all-round effort. We all have to do our bits.The sooner we ralise this ,the better it is.

    • @Satyajit: I totally agree to the points u have thrown light on, and I am not left with anything else to say, you’ve said it all..:)

      Thanks a lot for reading and putting forth your view points..:)

      • it is brain not brains ,
        btw if one is good at his things , it does not matter where u from ,which institute.
        have you noticed during the last decades no such valuable ground breaking research has been made world wide, where are the newtons,edison and einstein of this generation,

        your article is worth reading

  • Lame post. The number of IITs had to increase. Just one IIT was added in all these last 50 years(IIT G). Was that fair- Making access to the best technical education in India so restrictive?

    And it was only valid for Chetan Bhagat to comment. As an IIT-ian, he was hurt . Mr. Murthy was way off the mark and when a person of his stature makes such remarks, who are we to accuse Mr. Bhagat.

    • True….considering the increase, in the number of aspirants the increase in the number of IIT’s was long called for, but then buddy you just can’t complain about the falling stadards. The difficulty and the restrictive entry to these institute’s is what makes them exclusive and world class. If u are to compromise on the numbers, you got to sacrifice the quality buddy!

      Speaking about Mr. Bhagat, I would again like to say what I already mentioned several times before…he was right in reacting to the comments, but then the way he reacted was probably not right!

  • The article touched upon the main problem in India. India is a country of armchair critics and a back seat drivers. Everyone says “The problem should be fixed” – but no one says “This is what I will do to fix the problem”.

  • Very well said man!! ..i feel like punching this asshole murthy for such comments whose own kids did their school and college in USA .. and have never seen the face of Indian Higher education system…..

    After retirement he has nothing to put his mind into ..why not put some good scholarships up for grabs …but nooo … just Indian typical commenting on the filthy shape of the state.

    Boo you !!!! ..Murthy

  • Very well written , “demeaning the efforts of the 17–18-year-old kids, who innocently work hard to make the best out of whatever pathetic system they are given” was the best..

  • epic….!!!!
    specially, “I believe even if such not-so-good students are able to clear this exam they are probably much smarter than the bright kids and are able to find the loopholes in the system, optimise their efforts accordingly and cash on it! Why make a fuss over it!”

    an iitian !!

  • my own story..did b.tech from state level university ..then cleared IIIT-BANGALORE..pg entrance exam..did not join..now i found myself in a trap of doing boring kind of job..to find solace, i have taken up a vocation of interpreting my ancient scriptures and have found this job in alignment of my natural tendencies..

  • @Rakesh Narang: but if IIT are govt institute, it is the job of the govt itself to instruct JEE admin to give the directions and instructions…..why should indian parents invest their money in coaching and all when there is no guarantee also..this is nothing but sucking blood and boosting business..IIT/IIM have flourished coaching industries

  • Mr. Murthy is not from IIT go check yourself he wrote the exam never studied in it, its a overhyped article written to take the side of IIT’/IIM. The best brains are in the ordinary colleges go search it and you will get one smarter than anyone else. *ucking IIT/IIM’s are not so great lets challenge it great Entrepreneurs will arise from ordinary colleges watch out and NON-IIT’s will arise like wildfire. Enough is Enough society is sick n tired of bullshit overhypes of IIT/IIM.

Leave a Reply