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Will setting up more IITs, IIMs benefit young Indians?
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September 20, 2007

On the 60th anniversary of India's independence, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] spelt out his vision for eradicating poverty. This vision rests on 'a revolution in the field of modern education in the next few years'. And it encompasses:

~ 6,000 new 'high quality' schools
~ 370 colleges in districts with low enrollment rates
~ 30 new Central universities
~ 5 Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research
~ 20 Indian Institutes of International Technology

And the icing on the cake:
~ 7 new IIMs, 8 IITs

But the debatable issue is: how will these new IITs and IIMs benefit young Indians?

In a chat with Get Ahead readers, popular youth magazine JAM's editor and Get Ahead columnist Rashmi Bansal discussed the merits and demerits of having more IITs and IIMs in India.

For those who missed the chat, here's the transcript:


mk asked, Do you think the quality will come down if more IITs are started?

Rashmi Bansal answers, Quality of all products in India has gone up over the last decade. If we plan expansion correctly and with the right value systems there is no reason why we cannot maintain high standards in all new IITs. Or other institutions.



dev asked, I see lot of people interested in teaching from the corporate world who are well qualified, holding a PhD from good univ. and good work exp. But the only problem is the money. IIT/IIM faculty is poorly paid. you know, IIT/IIM profs are like GODs. So, what do you think can make them stay with their passion and creating new GODs. What is Govt. doing for that and what are the difficulties Govt. facing to do so ? What are your suggestions to the Govt.

Rashmi Bansal answers, This issue is being addressed but more attention does need to be paid to it. IIT/ IIM professors also earn from consulting for companies. These fees are shared between the professors and the institutes. Yes, the basic payscales should be revised but teaching will never ever be at par with a corporate job. However it comes with its own perks, lifestyle and benefits such as intellectual, job satisfaction. For example, intellectual challenge and freedom. There will always be a choice to make in that sense. But basic payscale should not be so low that in the context of current salaries earned by passing out students that it is almost comical!



sunny asked, why students of iit iim got the best jobs in the world

Rashmi Bansal answers, Sunny, it is debatable what constitutes the 'best job' in the world. I think you are alluding to 'highest paying' for their age. Well, large companies need smart people to take them forward. IIMs, thanks to their selection process and brand value, attract the smartest brains. In the context of analytical skills and reasoning, at least. Companies find it easy to pick up bright young people from these campuses than institute a selection process themselves.



Manu asked, see all US b schools top 15 like wharton kellogs harvard and have likes of 450-700 seats. then why not earth India should either increase seats or put Higher league Bschool. Backing is that our economy will overtake US in 2035, what say rashmi.

Rashmi Bansal answers, IITs have significantly expanded capacity. IIMs have also started doing so. The constraints are infrastructure and faculty. The IIMs are also expanding by offering courses other than the 2 year flagship program. PGP Ex by IIM A & C (1 year course for professionals with 8-15 yrs experience). IIM B runs an excellent PGSEM program which is 3 year part time MBA for software professionals. So there is progress on the expansion front in different ways!



dev_newID asked, So, what are your suggestions to the Govt. and the nation in this regard, I mean creating more IITs and IIMs of same number as they exists today.

Rashmi Bansal answers, Suggestion is to set realistic goals. If primary education is the first priority concentrate on that. I don't think they actually have the resources or management bandwidth to do ALL the things they have stated. Secondly have a credible governing body which ensures certain quality level in private educational institutes. Many are doing a fine job but an equal number are fleecing students. This body should not be like AICTE which has no power to do anything and is not regarded as fair and impartial. The governing body should have governmental and non governmental participation and be widely respected by all.



techno asked, How good are top10 non-iim b-schools for a guy with workex of 2-3 years in IT if he intends to move to other areas like finance/marketing? Is it a wiser career move?


Rashmi Bansal answers, It depends what your current salary is because you will lose 2 years of income + pay at least 5-6 lakhs for your 2 year MBA. But if you want a functional shift an MBA is a good idea. Schools like SP Jain/ MDI/ NITIE/ XIMB are good choices; there are others. Any school with more BComs in the batch than engineers would indicate to you that perhaps it is not very highly regarded as a good career booster.



ice asked, Why not extend the reach of IIT JEE to include NITs too so that the quality of students will improve and they truly become an extension of IITs?

Rashmi Bansal answers, I see significant changes and improvements in NITs after they have been upgraded from 'REC'. They have better infrastructure, definitely. But they suffer terribly as far as faculty is concerned. By extending retirement age of professors from 60 to 65 they have managed to tide over the immediate crisis. But once these guys finally retire there is no fresh blood willing to join. Part of the problem is location. Also the many opportunities young engineers have. Are we saying that simply changing the name 'NIT' to IIT will create some kind of magic? I think NITs have everything except the confidence that we are as good or better than an IITian. We let ourselves be labelled and then live up to those labels. The real challenge is in our own mental make up and not in a signboard.


ice asked, We have quality Management and Engineering insitutes in IIMs and IITs. Isnt it time to bring the presige back into Sciences by adding a few IISc-s? Science will define the future and God knows India needs scientists

Rashmi Bansal answers, Prestige already exists for science. We have institutions like TIFR, IISc, ISRO, PRL and so on. But tell me how many of you would consider a career in science over IT? You may have heard of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology started by ISRO. The entry is through JEE. Wanna bet that no one who could get ANY seat in IIT would have instead chosen this option? Because at the end of it you will have to work with ISRO (you ae asked to sign a bond) for a certain number of years. I rest my case. 



manu-1 asked, Rashmi i am a IIFT Grad and can tell you for sure that faculty earns lot of money from part time teaching, guest lectures, consultancy etc. i even crosses what we earn with MNC's at time. with 1000 rs/hour taking classes on weekend they could earch 60-70 K spending

Rashmi Bansal answers, Well that's great - they deserve to, don't they? But let me tell you only those who speak well and who have authority in their field get consulting assignments. As in the corporate world, it is survival of the fittest.



ice asked, No Rasmi I am not asking for a label for NITs I am saying we must make the entry criteria to IITs and NITs the same viz IIT JEE. Let the students decide for themselves what they want to join. Let the market dynamics decide which IIT/NIT will succeed or fail. We are only trying to make a level playing field so that the larger population today compared to 1950s has better access to quality education.

Rashmi Bansal answers, There are pros and cons of having a single entrance exam. Too much is at stake on a single day. A cousin of mine tried for JEE twice but did not make it. He also gave BITSAT and is doing well there now. If we switch to single exam system people should have a chance to repeat the exam and improve their score in the manner of SAT. But definitely all institutes should come under 2-3 exams. And going by current trends the class 12 exam (or Boards) is becoming a mere formality. as everyone only cares abt entrance exams.



manu-1 asked, Rashmi you missed Indian School of Mines and Marine Engineering and Research Institute who have an entrance through JEE too

Rashmi Bansal answers, Sure -I know abt that but the question was about basic sciences.



Sid asked, Hi I have a 2 yrs of work exp in a leading S/W MNC.Apart from IIMs which colleges shall I aim for? Shall I go for TAPMI???

Rashmi Bansal answers, You could go for TAPMI - it is well regarded.



ice asked, you said 'no one who could get any seat in IIT'. Why is this to be looked down upon considering that today we have far greater number and quality of students competing for more or less the same number of seats? So 5-6 IITs are simply not sufficient. India needs dozens of them. Quality of a few will ofcourse be poor but we will be serving a greater share of the population.

Rashmi Bansal answers, My dear the point was specific to a question. Everyone who gives IIT has their eyes only on the job and 'brand value' at the end of it. A government job is not attractive. Hence IIST is the last choice. Comprendez?



ice asked, By the way Rashmi, thanks for the attention you are giving my posts.

Rashmi Bansal answers, :) It would be nice if people came on with their real names though.



VIRGIL asked, Dont you think with the common man living below the poverty line - there should be more representative cost of education ? More IIm's cannot solve this problem Rashmi ,your comments please

Rashmi Bansal answers, I think primary education and vocational education must be the man focus. IMHO this IIT-IIM announcement is kind of political. Keeps the middle classes happy that the government has some concern for them. Even though few expect to see them fructify soon enough to benefit them!



siva2 asked, Hi, You didn't answer to my query on where these new IIM's and IIT's are going to be setup?

Rashmi Bansal answers, Siva, personally I feel new IITs and IIMs should not be set up in obscure locations due to social objectives. IIM Shillong will face a lot of problems. Their best bet for placement for example may to be combine with IIM Calcutta. I think new IIMs should be set up near major cities. For example Gurgaon, Jaipur or Chandigarh near Delhi, Pune or New Bombay near Bombay, Hyderabad, Chennai - and so on. That is practical but of course it may not meet the government's social and political objectives.



VIRGIL asked, Thnaks Rashmi for anwering my question .Wish you best of luck in the long road ahead - my best wishes are with you , Virgil

Rashmi Bansal answers, Thanks Virgil. I attended a school called Virgil Grissom high school in the US for a year. Good luck to you too!



sachin asked, hi rashmi myself is sachin sharma, have done my MCA and want to do MBA.i m working in software development company... so please sugest me in which way i should do MBA. means Regulary or part time

Rashmi Bansal answers, Depends on whether you can afford to leave your job and devote 2 years to an MBA. You could work a year or two first.



shahab asked, Do you think IIT and IIMs are only life saver?

Rashmi Bansal answers, Certainly not, my dear. Unfortunately everyone is this country is obsessed with the subject. The article I wrote for rediff before this one was on the value of liberal arts. Do you know how many people came on chat then? Some 3-4 if I remember correctly. You are part of the problem - if u;d like to call it that!



Mingo asked, But the debatable issue is: how will these new IITs and IIMs benefit young Indians? Do you think more IITs and IIMs are the solution to the higher education woes affecting our country? i hope this was the topic of the day. It looks like this chat has become a career guidance session

Rashmi Bansal answers, I think the 'solution' lies in each of us understanding who we are and how we can take up work which leads to amplification of our natural potential. Work which makes us want to wake up each morning charged up. Today it's only about where the high paying jobs are. Which leads to so much waste of talent. So much frustration and listlessness.



RK asked, Hi Rashmi, I m an IITian and my husband pusuing Executive MBA from one of the best B schools in India. But i realise that both IIT and IIMs have their own drawbacks and the picture presented to outside world is very rosy, which is not so in reality. so do you feel that this kind of quantitative approach will enhance opportunities for people or this would be another mask with a great brand name?

Rashmi Bansal answers, I would agree that IITs and IIMs have their limitations. They should focus much more on leadership and soft skills for one. One issue is the raw material itself. if 80% plus of the batch is engineers... not because there is a quota or bias towards them but because in India 'smart people' rarely take up say Bsc or BA. Then that compounds the problem. I would add also that every organisation/ institution looks different from the inside :)


Rashmi Bansal says, Thank you all, for a stimulating session of Q & A. Have a good day and do one thing you've always wanted to. Not next month or next week but today. Adios!

Rashmi's columns:

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