This refers to the debate “Is the quality of IIT students declining?” (October 19). It would be wrong to categorise all students in one sweep. However, the concern expressed by N R Narayana Murthy is well founded. There are students who view the joint entrance exam (JEE) as an end in itself and others who view it as a means to an end, while IITs seek those who view success in JEE as a new beginning. It is possible that the numbers in the last category are falling. The reason for this distortion may be found in the roots of society. In the sixties, seventies and eighties, it was the glamour of the “West”; in the nineties and thereafter it was the investment banks that became the “drivers” for seeking admission to IITs. Those who could not make it settled for software companies. Coaching centres merely make these success stories into folk tales, as the advertisements they publish demonstrate.
This narrow remuneration-driven perspective of education has been instilled by parents, schools and even media that gives front-page coverage to stratospheric remuneration even as it obfuscates the median and average and those in the lower quartile or does not evaluate the nature of the work done. As the head of the Chinese Central Bank in the movie Inside Job said, when “financial engineers” replace real engineers, things like the financial catastrophe of 2008 occur because they apply physics and mathematics to the discipline of economics.
Hari Parmeshwar, on email
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