The value of the IIx’s

19 03 2007

I was driving home tonight from a family reunion dinner, and I noticed this huge billboard with Narayana Moorthy’s [Infosys Dude] picture on it. The caption was “More Schools or More IITs?? or Both???” This triggered an interesting thought because I started thinking about the value of the IITs and IIMs…

There is no question that the calibre of the average person who passes through an IIT or an IIM is much better than those from a Tier 2 school… Which starts you wondering, “Just why is that?”… Is it really that the people who get in are THAT good that even 4 years at a normal institute doesn’t make them lose their edge? Or is there something about the way the IIxs are run that just seems to bring out the best in the people? I believe its the latter. The kind of exposure a person gets at an IIx is far beyond what a person gets at other decent schools.

My cousin was telling me about the type of exposure they get at their college to prepare them for the real life after college. He doesn’t go to an IIT but he’s in one of the top schools in the state, but he says that even after 7 semesters, he’s not convinced of his ability to jump straight into the real world. Corporates just hand over experience certificates to students on the condition they don’t show up and bug them. But this kinda stuff doesn’t happen at an IIx.

I happen to know of a group of companies who run out of the IIT campus in Chennai, who get to recruit IIT students on internships. These students are asked to perform like normal staff, but while they may not be completely rewarded monetarily, they get an early bite into what awaits them once they finish. And this in turns lets them get off the mark faster once the get their first jobs…

So I’m wondering why aren’t there more institutes like the IIx’s? And not just for technology or business… I know there are national institutes like NIFT and IISC, but they dont receive the same attention as the more glamorous IIx’s… and this is where it gets sad… India’s growth until this point has been courtesy of the IIT’s and IIMs. But to sustain it, it needs to generate more world class talent in domains outside of the purview of these schools. The socio-economic benefits of India’s boom must go beyond just the narrow IT/Technology industries and the financial industry. Otherwise, you have the current growing divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, in this case the “haves” being the IIXians.

To answer the question that Mr. Narayana Moorthy asked, my answer is “Both”. You need to raise the overall standards of education in the country to produce the next generation of leaders, and you need more IIXs to help transform these talented kids to capable professionals. And by IIXs I mean that the emphasis should be on fields other than IT and Business.

Course what doesn’t help the cause is when some yahoo in the Education Ministry declares, “Basic education is not a priority of this administration.” I’m not able to recall where I read this since it was over 2 years back.. If I find it i’ll put it up here. But, its an endemic issue that is the norm here in India. Unless both state and the central governments recognize the problem, and actually devote the resources necessary to overhaul the entire educational system, and not the IIXs, then India will forever be debating, “Which do we need?”

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