Monday, June 18, 2012

IIT JEE follow up

Since I posted 'Thoughts on IIT JEE' (Link) a lot of material has come into public domain. The opening statement of that post, "The decision making process for new IIT JEE appears more interesting to me than the proposals themselves. " appears more true today. There are quite a few articles in public space widening the discussion in which a lot of people - faculty members, students, alumni, educationist participated. To see PM lending ear and giving time to listen to points-counterpoints himself, shows the enormous value, respect IIT brand carries and also the importance given to it by Government of the country.

While most of the points I raised in that post is articulated better by various columnists and I learnt a lot from their arguments, I am yet to see any article which dwells on the purpose of education and admission process. "..it will do us a world of good to listen to him (Vivekananda) and direct policy implementation related to education on what he said as essence of education, "We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet." We need not interpret the last point of the sentence as making enough money."It is too early but it may not be just weak correlation to see what I anticipated as "But the smarter among the population may try to migrate to certain boards which may appear to provide some extra edge." and what The Hindu finds here (Link).

Also, I do not see any worthwhile discussion on what happens to the students once inside IIT, specially the importance of first year. The non-performance of a student in IIT is very much linked to admission process. Overlooking this, the number of failures and psychological cases will rise. Outlook India reports (Link), "The statistics are shocking. In IIT Delhi, about 600 out of 853 students have gone through counselling because of excessive stress." The story is similar in other IITs. Coaching for objective type test, rather objective type test itself (students will be coached according to the exam.) is to be blamed when "Says Arjun Malhotra, Chairman, Headstrong, and an IIT alumnus: “Today, kids have been trained only in the objective method of answering questions. Ask them to write an essay answer and most of them just do not know how to do that. Subjective skills are just not there.” And that puts pressure when they are swamped by the IIT curriculum." Society, specially the parents should note what Einstein said, before subjecting a youngster to unrealistic pressure, "Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it'll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid".

Now subjective type test for lakhs are not feasible in existing system. Objective type screening is to be followed by subjective type test. I suggested in my earlier post, an interview after that which may carry as little as 10 percent weight or so to have a test on attitude, extra-curricular etc. P. V. Indiresen in his article in Business Line (Link) says, "If the IIMs can have an interview after the CAT examination, if people for the central services are selected after an examination and an interview, if even a peon is selected after an interview, why should not each IIT have the same, independent system? " However, I have a different take on common understanding of autonomy. I am not worried much about who takes decision as long as the decision taken, takes us forward and does good to the people. Ultimately decision is taken by one set of people or the other. It all depends on their ability to read a problem, weighing various options through cost-benefit analysis and arriving at what is for the greatest good. Regarding constitutional right and its interpretation, the experts have already spoken in various forums and some of the links are shared in this post.

I would like to place here few articles available in public domain that I found interesting on this discourse. One IIT Director is very active in cyber space addressing various queries, has given what necessitated the change and what it tries to achieve in his blog available here (Link). To my knowledge the most comprehensive discussion where a lot of academicians from various strata participated and that includes one IIT Director, is this post (Link) and various other posts by Dean, Academic Affairs of IIT Kanpur. Please go through the comments section. The article by an IIT Delhi faculty member that appears in a leading national daily can be found here (Link). Outlook tried to put all the views together here (Link). View of different faculty members of different IITs can be found here (Link).

The blog (Link) by a UG student of IIT Kanpur is very, very well articulated. One may get perspective of an IIT-JEE cleared student there and also suggestions offered by him. There is an element of sarcasm in his writing but considering what he writes is valuable and his age, one may ignore that part and take the substance. The other student article I read and which is quite detailed is that of an IIT Kharagpur alumnus which can be found here (Link). This article is very inspiring which shows how a village boy scores only 39% in Class XII Board exam. but becomes a successful engineer from IIT to get as many as four scholarships from foreign universities for higher education. He can very well be a symbol of "IIT Dream." If you have in it, you can get it! The third student article that got published in a prestigious newspaper like The Hindu is from IIT Roorkee (Link). One 16 year old IIT aspirant's article appears in NDTV's web edition (Link).

I wish there was a more serious discussion on patriotism on the NDTV show 'We the people' on the topic 'Bonding doctors to duty' (Link). The national service was discussed from material plane and very casually. Even the anchor herself was skeptical if patriotism can be coded. A Delhi student talked about the pathological state of National Service Scheme (NSS) in the institute. The IIT JEE 2012 topper's brief presentation in the show spoke of himself. The fact is that love for country, love for humanity are already coded. The environment around tempts us to suppress it for short term gain. Money, comfort are more worshiped than character. Then why complain? Selfishness and unselfishness - both are there. We need that education, that mindset which nurtures and allows the noble qualities to flourish. We focus on falls. We do not see 'fall from what' and do not encourage people or create a condition which applauds a person if he / she tries to rise from a fall. "When Adam fell, he fell from purity. Purity is our real nature, and to regain that is the object of all religion. All men are pure; all men are good. Some objections can be raised to them, and you ask why some men are brutes? That man you call a brute is like the diamond in the dirt and dust -- brush the dust off and it is a diamond, just as pure as if the dust had never been on it..", says Vivekananda.

We know, "As you sow, so you reap."The policy makers need to decide whether investment in education means only preparing one for job market or it is something to do with total personality development. I have seen planning commission taking note of it in its Vision 2020 document prepared by Dr. S. P. Gupta (Link) which says, "We have to locate the hidden potentials of the country, its strong points at the base from which we have to build the foundation.  As has been quoted in the Report, it would be wrong to say that in 1947 India started to reconstruct a modern nation from the scratch.  Rather it began the process of rediscovering its rich cultural heritage and spiritual values that had formed the foundation of India in the past.  It is on this foundation that we seek to formulate the vision for India 2020.  To support this view, I quote Lord Macaulay’s presentation to the British Parliament “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief.  Such a wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, the very backbone of this nation, which is a spiritual and cultural heritage”.  Preparing a vision for 20 years ahead is very difficult, especially if we look back at the fast changes that have taken place in India and abroad for the last 20 years, which are very fast and many of them could not have been predicted." (The image on  Macaulay quote was shared by a Facebook friend. There is a debate whether the quotes are actual or this is an impression on his doing) Coming back to NDTV debate, I don't know if Ramakrishna Mission monks, many of them are from IITs and I know one of them as Bhatnagar awardee (Link , Link), participate in such panel discussions or not. Wish they are there to have a 360 degree view of the topic.  

Referring to articles by others does not necessarily mean that I subscribe to their views. I find their takes on this issue interesting. I have shared my thoughts before (Link). Finally, this article (Link) titled "How will you measure your life?" was shared by one of my IIT Kharagpur batchmate commenting on demise of an American Dream (Link). One cannot ignore human values for long for arriving at real solutions to any problem.

1 comment:

willson said...

I am not in favor of this new pattern of IITjee or ISEET.This pattern supports CBSE candidates in comparison to the other regional boards students.CBSE students scores higher than the other regional board candidates.
cbse sample papers 2012