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    Creative Commons License
    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    April 12, 2010

    How the IITs solve India's tertiary education problem

    In early 1993, before I wrote the IIT-JEE exam, I knew that there were around 2000 seats (including IT BHU) up for grabs, with at least 1 lakh students writing the entrance exam. i.e. ~ 2% of the students become eligible for a seat. I didn't make it to the next round only because I had made it very clear in my answer sheet that nothing short of Comp. Sci at IIT Kanpur would be acceptable to me.

    I was quite aghast to note that the ratio is still almost the same, with 4.7 lakh students 'fighting' for 10000 seats.

    Remember that in 1993, these 2000 seats were spread across 5 IITs (Kharagpur, Mumbai, Chennai, Kanpur and Delhi) and IT BHU. To the best of my knowledge, no-one wanted to touch IT-BHU even with a bargepole. They'd take Civil engg. in any of the IITs compared to Comp. Sci or EEE at BHU.

    Now, with 10000 seats across 15 IITs (+ IT BHU which still isn't an IIT!), the situation is more likely to be similar. 8 of the 15 IITs were established less than 2 years ago. Isn't there a high chance that a lot of the [top ranking] students who get through the JEE wouldn't really care to even bother about trying for courses at Bhubaneshwar, Hyderabad, Patna, Gandhinagar, Ropar, Jodhpur, Indore and Mandi?

    It seems that IITs are primarily around political symbolism. Promising (and occasionally enabling) the creation of an Indian Institute of Technology in the town, city, district or state is one of the best ways to capture votes, especially from the young hopefuls.

    In that sense, the political establishments of Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala need to hang their heads in shame for not having a single IIT in their midst. The North East gets the standard token representation in the form of IIT Guwahati.

    If only having an IIT in every state solved India's tertiary education problem ...

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