January 10, 2005
Wrote on December 10th that 'Was thinking of doing a story on Narayan Murthy and Bill Gates connection. Timing is right now. Plan to publish it within a couple of week.' Please give me a couple of weeks more. Thanks. ;)
April 11, 2005
IIT Bombay's computer science professor Soumen Chakrabarti discusses extensive environmental damage being done to the campus
IIT's website notes that, 'The Institute campus at Powai extends over 200 hectares and is situated in picturesque surroundings with Vihar and Powai lakes on either sides and green hills strewn around...Consciously developed, the campus has retained and increased its green cover, rich in natural flora and fauna.' Professor Chakrabarti, however, in his artcle titled 'Destruction is our Second Nature,' through words and photos, paints a dismal picture. A must-read.
April 17, 2005.Cornell loves Infosys' Narayana Murthy
Previous StoriesCharity: Narayan Murthy Style
IIT Bombay's motto is Knowledge is The Supreme Goal. I studied there and in the spirit of its philosophy, am going to present a few essays of mine, to show IIT and IITians from a different perspective than we are used to normally. Hope it will lead to better understanding of IIT and the soci-economic environment it operates in.
Here I have tried to tackle many issues simultaneously. Equal access to education is important to many including women, minorities, and poorer population. How do IITs deal with that? On the other hand, once admitted, do the young minds at IIT learn skills to develop into responsible citizen or are just trained to become (migrant) workers in economically developed societies? I have also tried to reconcile the vision Nehru had when he conceived of IITs and what they have become today. Are IITs truly what the best what India with population of over one billion capable of?
Currently all essays are in working paper status, which means besides correcting the typos and grammatical errors, I will introduce new concepts later either in the current essays or in new ones. Your feedback is very important in that.
Instead of giving this site an academic flavor with quotes from various sources, I have tried to keep the style informal. Most analysis is based on personal observations. At times it will seem like I am writing for my classmates at IIT Bombay, but this site is meant for all - IITians and non-IITians. Please send your feedbacks. Enjoy!
JEE is acronym for Joint Entrance Examination. Most admissions to IITs depend solely on the performance on JEE. Fewer than one percent of the applicants get admission into a decent department. JEE is meant to ensure meritocracy in admissions but its design leaves much to be desired.
"Kamath's grading system was a punch in the nose for students who fancied themselves as the best and brightest in India. Often, only one student per test got an A - the top scorer. The second-best score got a B. Everyone else got Cs, Ds, or Fs." This is how Business Week (December 7, 1998 - page 116) describes IIT Bombay Electrical Engineering Professor M.S. Kamath's grading.
IITians rarely choose their majors by interest. Various departments in IITs have an unwritten hierarchy based largely on job conditions especially in the USA. IITians get into departments what their JEE ranks allow them to. Not that it matters much. Later, most of them have to start all over again to work in the IT industry.
IIT graduates seem to wipe out the competition in any Indian competitive exam they sit for. What about international tests like the GRE and GMAT? I have heard of some of the IIT graduates doing very well on these, but what about the average IITian's performance?
Some of the smartest IITians end up working in Silicon Valley. A researcher at UC Berkeley estimated that fully 20 percent of start-ups in Silicon Valley were IITian-owned. Do IITians own Silicon Valley?
American media has been very kind to IITs and IITians. CBS 60 Minutes had a very flattering portrayal of IITs recently. Businessweek, Wall Street Journal are some of the other media outlets praising IITs. However, it is rare to find praises of schools like Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Tokyo, which, some would argue are equal, if not bigger, powehouses.
A few groups conspicuosly missing from the student body was that of Schedule Caste/Tribe category. While I was there, some sort of affirmative action style action was taken to correct that.
IITians, in general, are very aware. Aware of the stock prices and property values that is. Political awareness just takes time away from really important things.
On CBS 60 minutes segment on IITs Vinod Khosla asserted that The IITs probably are the hardest school in the world to get into. Based on that progam, many in the Indian media screamed that IITs better than US institutes like MIT, Princeton and Harvard.
...A curriculum that may be the most rigorous in the world. (CBS 60 minutes) I studied in a department of about 45 fellow-students with median JEE rank of about 60! Later I took classes at UC Berkeley. Comparing my experiences I wonder what was the point of that much rigor at IIT.
Parliament is assured that the problem is not so severe since only one third of the IIT graduates leave India. Some claim the NRIs are India's scientists in training who would come back to India later. Western scholars publish papers on how, in fact, it is helping India.
By and large, IITians work in IT-related industries. Bill Gates claims that IIT is an incredible institution. IITians, no doubt, have made their mark in the software industry. What about other industries?
Graduates of schools like Harvard, Stanford and MIT have long relied on networking to boost their careers or businesses. IIT alumni associations have started talking about networking and creating a brand name for IITs. To network effectively, some of the IITians have to be in power and be willing to help others.
At IIT Bombay my BTech batch had about 180 students. Only one of them was a woman! In traditional India was this number one too many?
IITians display the tendency of knowing rating points of academic programs to two decimal point precision without any consideration for quality of methodology used to rank or the standard errors involved. This extends to ranking countries, teams and what not.
We all know them - Vinod Khosla, Victot Menezes, Rajat Gupta, Nandan Nilekani, Narayan Murty - all IITians who by their brilliance and hard work made it big in a meritocratic world.