What is Taking the Sheen Off India's Best Engineering Brand - IITs _ Business Today

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What is Taking the Sheen Off India's Best Engineering Brand - IITs _ Business Today

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<ul><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 1/14</p><p>Print Close</p><p>WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITsGoutamDasApril24,2013</p><p>NitinKumarReddycameacrossasachilledoutguy.Hewasnerdy,yetjovial.HisfriendsattheIndianInstituteofTechnology(IIT)Madras,wherehewasstudyingmechanicalengineering,calledhimFireStallion.Everyday,hewoulddownloadhardtofindmoviesandsharethemoverthelocalcomputernetworkthatconnectsallstudentsattheIIT.Andjustforfun,heoncespent14hourswithoutabreakbuildingalargecraneusingLegoblocks."I'mawesome,"hewroteonhisprofilepageonasocialnetworkingsite.</p><p>OnehotmuggyafternooninMay2011,Reddylockedthedoorofhisthirdfloorhostelroomfromwithinandhangedhimselffromtheceilingfan.</p><p>IITMadras,where8,000studentsand530teacherssharea620acrecampuswith400speciesofplants,blackbucks,fanthroatedlizards,tortoisesandvenomouscobras,wasrattled.Reddy,afinalyearM.Techstudentwasbehindscheduleonaproject,andhadbeenaskedtostaybackanothersixmonthstocompletethework,whileeverybodyelseinhisdepartmentgraduated.</p><p>Perhaps,Reddywasnotabletocopewiththeacademicpressure,ortheshameofstayingbackattheinstitutewastoomuch.Orhewasupsetthathehadtoletgoaplumjobhehadlanded.Whateverthereason,the24yearold'ssuicideisacursortoanepidemicacrossallIITs.Accordingtothegovernment,10IITstudentshavekilledthemselvessince2010thereweretwosuicideseachinIITMadrasandKharagpurandoneeachinIITKanpurandDelhiin2011alone.Andagovernmenttaskforcefound18attemptedsuicidesinthelasttwoyearsinthecentrallyfundedtechnicalinstitutions.</p><p>AllisnotwellwiththeIITs,thecountry'sfinesttechnicaleducationchaintowhichmillionsofyoungstershaveaspiredsince</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 2/14</p><p>the1950s.In2012,arecord479,651candidatesappearedfortheJointEntranceExam,orJEE,for9,647undergraduateseats.And,whenthisyear'sJEEwrapsupinJune,thenumberislikelytohavecrossedhalfamillion.</p><p>Butovertheyears,theJEE,wellknownforitstoughstandards,hasdevelopedloopholesthatmayletsmart,butnotnecessarilythebest,brainsinthecountryintoIITs.This,atatimewhencompetingglobalengineeringschoolssuchasSingapore'sNanyangTechnologicalUniversity,HongKongUniversityofScienceandTechnology,TsinghuaUniversity,Beijing,andKoreaAdvancedInstituteofSicenceandTechnologyhavepoppedupintoglobalprominence.</p><p>MuchofthisisbecauseofthescorchingpaceatwhichIITshaveexpandedoverthelastfiveyears.Still,thereisnodenyingtheerosioninthequalityofoutputoftheIITsatleast,relativelyspeakingandwhatitdoestothefamedBrandIIT,whichplayedaroleinchangingIndia'simagefroma"nationofsnakecharmers"toa"nationof(computer)mice".IsBrandIITkillingitself?</p><p>{blurb}ThenumberofIITsnowtotals16.Nineofthemcameinorafter2008.TheresulthasbeenasplitinhowIITsareperceived.The</p><p>newIITsatBhubaneshwar,Gandhinagar,Hyderabad,Jodhpur,Ropar,Patna,IndoreandMandi,someprofessorsandrecruiterssay,arenotquiteIITsthewaytheworldexpectsthemtobe.</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 3/14</p><p>"EmployersclearlyunderstandthedifferencebetweenoldIITs(Kharagpur,Bombay,Madras,Kanpur,Delhi)andthenewones.Therearetheoldones,theintermediateoneslikeRoorkeeandGuwahati,andthenewkidsontheblock,"aseniorprofessoroftheComputerScienceDepartmentinIITDelhi,whodidn'twanttobeidentified,says."TheoldIITsstillhavethesamevalueastheydidearlierbutyoucan'tsayyouarefromIIT.Youhavetosaywhichoneyouarefrom,"headds.</p><p>ThatisaviewresonatingwidelyamongIIT'salumniacrosstheworld."Untilnow,anIITmeantsomething,nowthereisadistinctionbasedonwhatfollows'IIT'asinthelocation,"saysSanFranciscoserialentrepreneurandIITKharagpuralumnusIndraSinghal.ThatdistinctionhasslowlyerodedthewaytheworldperceivestheIITs."Thereisadilutionin</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 4/14</p><p>BrandIITbecausewiththeincreasednumbers,thereisaperceptionthattheselectivityisnolongerthere,"secondsAnandJagannathanFounderCEOatNewzstandCorp,alsoinCalifornia,andanIITKanpuralumnusof1974.</p><p>{blurb}ThatisnotanemotionalargumentfromabunchofpeoplebentonpreservingIIT'selitisttag.ThereasonemployerswanttodifferentiateisbecauseofqualitythenewIITs,mostlylocatedinsmallercitiesandtowns,havenotbeenabletoattractgoodfaculty.Neitheraretheirfacilitiesatparwiththeolderones.AskIntel.Everyyear,theworld'sbiggestchipmakerhiresabout150engineersfromcampusesinIndiawithspecialisedskillsinareassuchaspowermanagementmostlyfromtheIITs.ApreetaSingh,SeniorManagerofTalentDeliveryatthecompanysayssheonlygoestothetopfouroldIITs."Wedon'tgotothenewIITsbecausetheredefinitelyisadifferenceinthequalityofstudents.AndtheseIITsdon'thavethebrandname.,"shesays."EvenotherMNCswouldnotwanttogotonewIITs."</p><p>{blurb}NobodydoubtsthatIndianeedsmorequalityengineeringinstitutes.Thecountrymintsabout600,000engineerseveryyearandcountsaboutfourmillionstudentsinitsengineeringcollegesbutemployabilityisacriticalissue.DifferentsurveyssayjustoneinfourengineersinIndiacanbeusheredintoajob,andthattooaftertraining.Only17.45percentofengineersareemployableintheITservicessectorandjust2.68percentinITproductcompanies,astudybytalentassessmentcompanyAspiringMindsconcludedin2011.Engineeringcompaniesfallsomewhereinbetweenandmakeonehirefrom20candidates,saysVarunAggarwal,cofounderofAspiringMinds.India,reckonsMohandasPai,theformerHRchiefofInfosys,needsaround400,000engineersayear.</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 5/14</p><p>WhileahighernumberofIITsindispersedlocationscanhelpincreasethesupplyofqualityengineeringtalentinthefuture,thekindofqualityeducationistsarelookingforremainselusive.</p><p>OnewaytoraisethebaronqualityofeducationatthenewIITswouldbetobringintopnotchfacultybutthatiseasierpreachedthandone.AtypicalIITassistantprofessorstartsataboutRs75,000amonthlessthanwhatmanyengineersfromTierIIcollegesgetastheirfirstpaycheque.SaysAshokMisra,aformerdirectorofIITBombayandnowtheChairmanoftheJEECouncil,"Peoplegoforteachingbecauseoftheirpassionforit.Butifyourcolleaguesworkingincorporateofficesgetfourtimesyoursalary,itdoesaffectyourteaching."ButwithgovernmentrulesoncompensationinoperationattheIITs,thereislittletheycandotoraisefacultysalaries.TheironyisthateventrainersinsomeJEEcoachingcentresmakesixtimesasmuch,ifnotmore.</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 6/14</p><p>{blurb}IITadministratorsholdthatattractinggoodfacultywillcontinuetoremainachallengeforinstituteslocatedinplaceslikeRopar,Jodhpur,GandhinagarandMandibecauseofwhattheycalla"twobody"problemboththehusbandandwifewanttoworkandthatmaynotbefeasibleinasmallerlocation."Thiswasnotaprobleminthepreviousgenerationwhenonespousewasahomemaker,"saysBhaskarRamamurthi,directorofIITMadras.IITKharagpur,asleepytownwithalargerailwayworkshopandanAngloIndianheritage,easilyflourished,havingstartedin1951.</p><p>ButIITMandi,HimachalPradesh,incomparison,whichaccordingtoaboardmemberoftheinstitutehasa"wowcampus"beinglocatedinthehills,hasonly22teachersofasanctionedstrengthof90.</p><p>SowhysetupIITsinremoteplaces?"Thatisagoodquestion,"Ramamurthisnaps.Therearenoeasyanswers.</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 7/14</p><p>ThepoliticalundertonesoftheexpansioninthenumberofIITsisunmistakable.MostofthenewIITsbeganin2008andwereannouncedbythelateMinisterofHumanResourceDevelopmentArjunSinghonMarch28,2008asCongressinsiderswerebettingonawaveofwelfaremeasurestobringthembacktopower.Ayearlater,inthe2009generalelections,theCongressemergedasthesinglelargestpartyandformedthesecondUnitedProgressiveAlliancegovernment.</p><p>Tobesure,itwasnotthenewIITs'decisionthathelpedCongressatthehustings.Academicssaythatifatalltheyhadtobesetup,thenewIITsshouldhavebeenspacedoutsay,oneeveryfiveyears,orevenoneeverytwoyears."Thatwouldhavebeeneasieronthesystem.Butthetimingandlocationswerepoliticaldecisions.Inthelongterm,theseIITs</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 8/14</p><p>willbecomegood,"DheerajSanghi,DeanofAcademicAffairsatIITKanpur,sayshopefully.</p><p>{blurb}Tallandlean,KrishnaP.JagannathanmovesaroundtheIITMadrascampusinsmartsunglasses.A2004B.TechgraduatefromtheIIT,hewentontodohisPh.DfromMITbeforecomingbacktojoinhisalmamaterasanassistantprofessorintheElectricalEngineeringdepartment.Soon,hewillbeinItalyandJapanpresentingconferencepapersonwirelessnetworks.IntheoneandahalfyearshehasbeenattheIITasaprofessor,hehasalreadypublishedhisresearchworkintwojournals,besidesreadyingtwoconferencepapers.Jagannathan'sresearchoutputisaslightimprovementbyIITMadrasstandardsofadecadeago.In2002/2003,publicationsperfacultymemberayearattheIITstoodat1.23,accordingtoanIITreviewcommitteereportof2004,chairedbynotedscientistP.RamaRao.InotherIITs,itvariedbetween1.03and1.69.In2011/12,theoutputbyprofessorsatIITMadrasjumpedto2.05.</p><p>IITBombayhashired100peoplefromabroadsinceMarch2010.AndIITMadras'intakeofsuchfacultyhasbeenabout30ayear.Thethrusttowardsresearchisinonewayaimedatcounteringthefacultyshortage.TheAnilKakodkarCommitteeof2010initsstrategicrecommendationsforIITssetatargetof10,000doctoralfellowsbeingproducedannuallybythe202025period,upfromthecurrent1,000.ThehopeisthatsomeofthesePh.DswillstaytoteachattheIITs.</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 9/14</p><p>Today,facultyattheIITsisfarbehindtheidealnumberneededtodoagoodjobofteachingtheteacherstudentratiointheolderIITsaretrendingat1:16whileideallyitshouldbe1:10.Qualityrecruitmentshavesimplynotkeptpacewiththesuddenexpansioninthenumberofseats.In2007,IITshad5,537seats.Thisjumped74percentto9,647by2012,withmostoftheexpansionhappeninginthereservedcategoriesastheMinistryofHumanResourcesandDevelopmentimplemented27percentreservationfortheOtherBackwardClasses(OBCs)in2008."Peoplebelievethattherehasbeendilutioninquality.Thatisexpectedbecauseyouhaveadmitted50percentmorepeopletoday,"saysKrishnanBalasubramanian,ProfessorintheDepartmentofMechanicalEngineeringatIITMadras.</p><p>Theproblemofteachershortageiscompoundedbythefactthatmanystudentsfeeldisillusionedwithsomeoftheolderprofessorswhocontinuetoteachfrom20yearoldnotesandhavenotupgradedthemselveswiththechangingtimes.Textbooks,however,arereviewedbysomeoftheIITseverythreeyears.</p><p>ArminMustafa,anIITKanpurpostgraduatefrom2010,nowworkswithSamsung.Shesaysshewasluckytohaveagoodteacher."ButintheIITthereweretwothreeprofessorswhodidnotteachmuch.Theytookhalftheclassesinasemester.Theywereeitheronleaveorjustabsent,"shesays.</p><p>ArecentsurveycarriedoutbyastudentgroupatIITBombayincidentally,thepreferreddestinationoftopJEEqualifiers(in2011,70ofthetop100JEEqualifierswenttoIIT,Bombay)isrevealing.Inanarticleheadlined'Whydon'twestudyatIITB?'publishedinitsstudentmagazineInsIghT,theauthorswrite:"SurveysamongourstudentshaveconsistentlyshownthemtobeunhappywiththeteachingatIITB.88percentoftherespondentsfeelthatoneoftheimportantfactorswhytheydon'tstudyisbecausetheprofessorshaven'tsucceededingeneratingenoughinterestintheircourses.72percentoftherespondentsalsoblamethecoursecontentforbeingtootheoreticalandlackinganapplicationperspectivemakingitdisinteresting."</p><p>{blurb}NidhiShanbagh,oneofthestudentsinvolvedinthesurveysaysthatstudentsarenotquestioningthecapabilityofprofessors."Wejustwantedtoseeiftheteachingcanbemademoreinterestingsothatwestudymore.Wearenotputtingenoughhoursintostudy,"shetoldBT.</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 10/14</p><p>Thesamesurveyraisesanotherimportantissue.AsIITstryandtransitiontobeinginstitutesofresearch,teachersareperhapsspendingmoretimeinresearchthaninteaching."Researchisthemostimportantfactorinfacultyrecruitmentaswellaspromotion,althoughcourseevaluationisalsoacomponent.It'snothardtoseewhyitispossiblethatresearchcouldbemoreinterestingwhileteachingcouldberelegatedtobeingoneoftheunpleasantaspectsofthejob,formanyprofessors,"thearticlestates.</p><p>TheissueofteachingqualityisrelevantinotherIITsaswell.AprofessorfromIITKanpurwhodidnotwanttobequotedsaysthattherehasbeenadeclineinthequalityofcourses."Twentyfiveyearsago,teachersgaveoutassignmentstostudentseveryweekandtheseweregradedandreturned.Today,theycan'tgiveoutassignmentsbecausegradingthemwilltakemoretime,"hesays,addingthat"Classsizesaremuchlargernowandthereisnopersonalconnectwiththestudent".</p><p>HarishHande,cofounderofsustainableenergycompanySELCOSolaralsograduatedfromIITKharagpurin1990.HeholdsIITsarenotteachingcourseworkrelevanttoIndiaandthefacultystillhaveanelitistbentofmind."IITstudentsaretheclassicproductofsubsidiesandhavecreatedjobsandinnovationsforAmerica.ThereishardlyaconnectbetweenIIT</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 11/14</p><p>andruralIndia.IndustrialTrainingInstitutes(governmentruntechnicaltrainingorganisations)havehadmoreimpactonruralIndiastudentsfromtheseinstitutesmade,installedandmaintainedpumpsthathavehelpedintheagrirevolution,forexample,"Handesays.</p><p>Whilecourseworkseemsadrift,thereisagrowingviewamongthatIITsmaywellbeadmittinglessmeritoriousstudentsgiventhehugeexpansioninthenumberofreservedcategoryseats.Itisatouchyissueandmostprofessorsshyawayfromtalkingaboutthequalityofreservedcategorycandidates.ButitisobviouseverybodyisworriedaboutthedisparityinaclasstheKakodkarCommitteeconductedanonlinesurveyinvitinginputsfromallstakeholders(includingstudentsandteachers)ontheIITsystem.AlargemajoritysuggestedperiodicreviewofthestructureandpatternoftheJEEtoensuretruequalityandcautionedagainstexpansionattheexpenseofquality.</p><p>"ThereisnosignificantdifferencebetweengeneralcategorycandidatesandOBCs,"saysaprofessorwithanadministrativeroleinoneoftheIITs."Butsomeoftheothercastestudents,particularlythosewhocomefromHindimedium,havedifficultyfollowinglectures."ThemediumofinstructionintheIITsisEnglish."Theyhavemajorproblemsinthefirstyearbutarecounsellednottoloseconfidence.Theaveragepassoutgradeinfouryearsis7.3.StudentsfromSC/STbackgroundhavegradesofaround6.5,"headds.</p><p>Theothertrendisofstudentslaserfocusedoncareersthesedays.Theperceptionofqualitychanginghastodowithculturalchange,saystheIITDelhicomputersciencesprofessorquotedwithoutnamingearlier."Twentyyearsago,therewerebrilliantpeoplewhohadno</p><p>Wearegettinggoodstudents.Whetherwearegettingthebeststudentsisdifficulttosay...:BhaskarRamamurthi:Photo:NilotpalBaruah</p></li><li><p>11/3/2015 WhatistakingthesheenoffIndia'sbestengineeringbrandIITs:BusinessToday</p><p>http://www.businesstoday.in/storyprint/194169 12/14</p><p>careerambition.Theydidcrazythings,smokedgrass,crackedexams,"hesays."Today,everyonehasacareerpathdecidedfromthedayheorsheentersIIT."</p><p>ThecurrentJEEsystemhasproblemsthatmightbeleavingouttrulybrightstudentsandadmittingjustthesmarteronesforundergraduatecourses.Entranceexamcoaching,professorssay,makescandidatessmarteratcrackingtheJEE.Acco...</p></li></ul>