By Aishwarya Puri
Edited by Sanchita Malhotra, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Headline flashes, President Pranab Mukherjee saying the government would open 8 new IITs. HRD Minister Smriti Irani is all set to implement the policy in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Sikkim and Seemandhra. BJP seems delivering its promise as etched in its manifesto for the LS Elections 2014, but let us shift the light from this to something our dearest HRD Minister perhaps overlooked, something that fumes apprehensions to this new public policy.
Opening up of new IITs in India is an attempt to expand the number of seats for engineering aspirants who otherwise lack this chance due to limited number of seats. This would amplify the frequency of engineering graduates, from such an exalted institution, and boost the IT market in India. And this will in turn enhance our economy, defense strategy, medical facilities and education. The 12th five year plan introduced a handsome figure of 8 new IITs in India in 2009 owing to the IT revolution and its impact on Indian economy. But unfortunately, they are reeling under the lack of proper infrastructure and poor faculty. These new institutions lack the prerequisites of a permanent infrastructure, experienced faculty, a competent academic culture and robust mechanism of placements. A sudden mushroom spurt of small and big engineering colleges too add to this category. An estimate reveals a startling number of 40 out of 100 engineering graduates being unemployed. The reason being presence of thousands of engineering colleges across the country which have a mere weed existence. Private colleges which accept admissions over healthy donations and sturdy approaches are producing engineers in a number never seen before. Consequently, these graduates face the phenomenon of seasonal or complete unemployment; they are either exclusively unaccepted at recruitments or paid a skimpy amount which is as meager as anything!
Some HRD Officials went on record asserting that the present economy is already running squeezed and it will be saddled with immense financial crunch if funding for these 8 new IITs be done. But Mrs. Irani is adamant about her vision and has taken up the matter with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the officials said. The long term vision is wise and promising, but the near future doesn’t seem that much of a la-la-land. It is feared that this step shall only leverage greater liability on our crunched economy leading to compromises on resources for these new installations. This will produce yet more failed IITs, more bungling engineers, more unemployed graduates and a proliferated class of wasted talent. Unfortunately, this scenario stands in loud contrast with Modi’s vision of a competent India driving the motif of “Skill, Scale and Speed”.
Hence, it becomes crucial for policy-makers to scrutinize this public policy, recognize and acknowledge its loopholes and come up with an efficient alternative. For now, the capacity of current IITs can be expanded to accommodate more students. Stress be laid on fortifying the quality of faculty and advisors and knitting an academic curriculum that produces skilled engineers. Rather than setting up newer IITs, HRD Minister should invest upon the already running colleges. Resources should be spent on recruiting efficient faculty at these colleges and improving the quality of education here. Also what is needed is to build a thirstier job market for engineering graduates that keeps in check, the concerns of unemployment, inhumanly meager wages and brain drain. Such a step will also advertise a social remedy for all those aspirants who believe that only being an “IITian” is the ultimate motto of his life and education from other institutions is waste. This will help curb tolls of suicide, depression due to failure, extreme situation of stress and mental torture to clear the IIT entrance. Education will excel, success and excellence will go hand in hand.
Aishwarya is a student of English Literature at Hindu College, Delhi University. An aggressive enthusiast of Politics and an avid reader of articles on public policy and national politics. A leader, orator, anti patriarchal and loud on expression of words and public speaking. She believes in her dynamic administrative qualities and swears by candid human resource management. Her analysis of any life experience is majorly scientific and pragmatic, yet never misses a touch of spiritualism and philosophy.