Tuesday, July 05, 2005

New IITs, IIMs?


If we believe this ET story, there seems to be some momentum for upgrading seven engineering colleges to the IIT status.

An anonymous commenter points to yet another well-argued article by S.S. Vasan in the Hindu that makes a strong case for IT-BHU's efforts to become IIT-Varanasi.

Vasan, whose article on the entrance exams we had an occasion to link to earlier, is an alumnus of our Institute, and we have even chatted a few times during his masters days. It is nice to see him take an active interest in education in India.

I presume this news will put these IT-BHU folks in a happy frame of mind. On the other hand, may be not. By now, they have probably seen many highs, and as many lows, in IT-BHU's quest for IIT-hood.

[ Full disclosure: I got my undergraduate degree from IT-BHU. I believe that IT deserves to be made an IIT simply because of its long association with the JEE (see these two recent Rediff articles that make the case quite convincingly, using many other arguments). In my view, it is rather unfortunate that the fate of IT is being tied to that of the other colleges. ]

As for the merits of upgrading a few engineering colleges to the IIT status, people have mixed feelings; and, I expect the powerful IIT lobby to oppose this move. I would say creating more IITs is a good thing (but not enough) simply because India needs many more high quality colleges to educate its hundreds of thousands of high quality students coming out of its high schools.

It would make me even more happy if the government takes its blinkers off, and looks at other disciplines, too. Not only does India need good, well trained engineers, doctors and managers, it also needs good, well trained scientists, economists, sociologists, psychologists, linguists, historians and philosophers. Our largely hub-and-spoke type university system does a poor job of providing good, solid education to large numbers of students in these other disciplines. The key phrase here is "large numbers"; so, those of you who think they got good education in some islands of excellence in the present system may please hold off on your flames.

Bottomline: creating more IITs is fine, but we need more 'real universities', too!

4 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...

    The Hindu also seems to have carried another article on IT sent by Bharat Barot to IT yahoogroups
    http://www.hinduonnet.com/edu/2005/04/04/stories/2005040400141000.htm
    It relies on better facts than the dodgy Dataquest rankings and India Today rankings

  2. Abi said...

    Thanks, Anon, for the pointer to the very good article by Vasan. I am posting an update to link to this article. Thanks, again!

  3. Anonymous said...

    Your article points to the wrong story?
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1160421.cms
    Indiatimes is a crappy maze, so hard to find articles

    -Sriram

  4. Abi said...

    Thanks, Sriram, for giving the correct link. I have corrected it now.