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HAVE IITs LOST THEIR SHEEN?

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Have IITs really lost their sheen? This has been a question on everybody’s lips since a long time. After recent popular remarks by Kapil Sibal, Jairam Ramesh( an IIT alumni) now it’s India IT mogul Narayan Murthy( again an IIT graduate) who has expressed his opinions against the IITs who according to him have lost their glorious status that they used to attain even till mid 90s. He told that the IITs and other institutes of higher learning are not able to produce the quality research that they used to which could hamper the nation’s progress in the long run. However he stressed that our competitors have improved and progressed heavily in this regard. A surprising fact that supports his claim is that in 2004, even communist China produced 2,652 PhDs in computer science and in that same year the figure was 24 in our country which also justifies the fact that why India has not come up with any major IT innovation inspite of being an IT superpower. However this was not few years back. Even in 1967, at the electrical engineering department of IIT-Kanpur (there was no separate computer science branch then) there were about 60 to 70 students registered for PhD. But today, at the same department if there are five PhD students joining in a year, that would be considered as a milestone. Another tragic side of the story is that many of the bright Indian research graduates are opting for MIT and Stanford over India.

The credit for much of this chaos today goes to the concept of coaching classes and huge competition that has hampered the art of learning from the very beginning which is slowly vanishing the creative, learning and innovative minds. Also the approach of governments and institutes have also changed heavily for the worse. Hence there is an urgent need of steps to be taken both at higher as well as the basic level that is from the students as well. It is important for students to be inquisitive, curious, and develop the qualities of independent thinking, connecting what is learnt in the classrooms with what is happening in the outside world and finding appropriate solutions to problems around.
Also it’s important for the government to bring major changes in the educational system or else things might be too late to be improved further.