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A spate of news items have come up about how the IITs are slipping and that IIT students are not up to the mark.

Anil K. Rajvanshi  :I recently gave a lecture to undergraduate students at my alma mater, Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur. A day before my lecture, the students had arranged for a bull session at night with the residents of one hall, where I stayed for three years during my undergraduate days in the late 1960s. Most of them complained that after passing the toughest exam in the world, called Joint Entrance Exam or JEE, they felt let down since they were not challenged or inspired by IIT teachers. The teachers said the students do not read or attend classes and are just not interested in studies any more. I think the truth lies somewhere in between.

A spate of news items have come up about how the IITs are slipping and that IIT students are not up to the mark. A deeper analysis will reveal that it is not the students' fault since they are not being guided properly.

In the last couple of years, I have interacted with students not only at the IITs, NITs, management institutes, etc, but also in schools and colleges in rural towns. And everywhere I have found bright kids who want to do something worthwhile. Being better informed via the electronic media like cell phones, internet and social networks, they know what exists in the world and want to be a part of it.

An entry into the IIT is a passport to success. This is based on the past history of IITians getting plum jobs in IT, banking and other fields. The JEE is a great filtering mechanism. Passing it is no mean achievement because even the faculty of IITs cannot do it in the time allotted. Thus saying that most of the students who nowadays get into the IITs are zombies is not correct. Yes, the JEE can be improved by having an extra question paper on languages and an aptitude test.

The reason why the IITs were set up was to create excellent engineers and technologists for India. That basis has failed since the majority of IIT graduates go for non- engineering jobs such as management, banking and civil services.

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