First, I must assure you that this is not a rant on IITs or IITians. I have the utmost respect for them, perhaps more than you can imagine. Nevertheless, it is not enough to divert my attention from the sensitivity of the matter at hand.
Yes, IITs comprise the best brains in the country. Yes, they have the smartest students. Yes, they are a benchmark for the highest standards of education in India. But, why has the word ‘IIT’ lately become synonymous with ‘marketing and hype’? I agree, it’s a brand, and brand sells. But then, why has the vision of the Indian public become so myopic as to begin and end at IIT? It typifies what is wrong with the country—a mentality to huddle behind a common sense of purpose and undermine anything that attempts to deviate from it.
1) So that ministers and politicians can stop taking undue advantage: People like Kapil Sibal, who have absolutely nothing better to do, are hellbent on tweaking the JEE. Is it for the greater good, like he says? No way. If anything, it is to satiate the needs of a crazy old mindset of politicians to tinker with all that which need not be tinkered with.
3) So that peer pressure reduces upon the aspirants: No one can deny the pressure experienced by the IIT aspirant. I experienced it, you must have, and so must have a million others! If the hype of getting into IITs is reduced on a whole-scale level, so will the pressure upon the competing students. A counter-argument is that even the quality of education will then decrease. But, isn’t sacrificing a little on the quality of education worth it to alleviate the youth of the colossal burden?
4) So that it isn’t considered a ‘stigma’ to not be in the merit list: Believe it or not, this line of thought is not inconsistent with the thinking of many parents in our country. Even the students themselves have this fear of being an ‘outcast’ if he/she fails in his/her bid for the JEE. Why not consider it to be just another exam?
5) So that students from other colleges get their due recognition: What about the NITs? The BITs? The Delhi University? AIIMS? What about the law colleges? Do these names get their due recognition in a country, where IITs are considered the “only decent college” for academics? When will that day come, when studying in any other college will not be considered a “compromise” by the consensus?
6) So that people could pursue their dreams: Just because everyone else is trying to, and because you are capable of, does not mean that you should end up in an IIT, as is often the case! If your dreams lay elsewhere, if your heart beckons you to pursue other careers, why should you continue to run in circles, just because the entire country is?
Like so many of you, I too wish to see an India, which is not bound by restriction of thoughts, lack of vision, and overhyped age-old benchmarks. I too wish to see an India, that dares to dream!
(Photo courtesy: GiveUp@IITB)