There are so many articles written about IIT nowadays, and this one is in the process of joining the list. Today I came across a pretty sarcastic blog (and if I werent an IITian, it might have been humourous), which talked about IITians acting like prudes, when infact they are capable of not much. The guy writing the blog had probably been humiliated by an IITian sometime in his life earlier, and despite his best efforts, had failed to clear both JEE and GATE, and what better way to get even with something that has caused you such mental aghast than slamming it on your blog. And he has done some pretty good job of it as well. Because after reading the article, you had probably get down to believe that IITs are institutes producing only self - obsessed bastards, who have nothing else to do except discussing Newtonian laws (oops..he failed to mention Einsteinian), ogling at beautiful women, preparing some brilliant coffee, going to the office place wearing slippers, and making fun of other people.
Now, after 50 years of IIT, if this is the image that is being portrayed to the outside world, then its a matter of deep concern. Especially at a time when IITs are fast losing their importance as centres of excellence in technology. And at a time when the T&P department starts believing that its not their job, in the first place, to get every man a job.
IIT is the stuff of what dreams in a middle class household are made up of. Clearing JEE is often seen as the fastest way of making money. When people come to IIT, its often with the dreams of getting a 30000 + a month job, along with the images of a secure future. And the best thing about IIT is that it helps keep the dream right through the first three years. Things like extra-curicullars, are encouraged at the expense of a good CGPA. And the whole system falls flat in the fourth year, when you seem to be running from post to post to get a good job. And the answer to what becomes the ultimate question "Why do you have such a low GPA?" And you have no answer, because there can be no answer, except for the one which we are unwilling to give, because we havent put in hard enough efforts because we didnt think it was worth it. And then all that IIT provides you after years of toil as an engineer is a software coding job, which tests none of your analytical or engineering skills in the first place.
The worst thing about Training & Placement is that people, because they work on a voluntary basis, and not on an official basis, dont take it as a responsibility. Now what I am going to write is in direct contrast to what I wrote as a comment on someone else's blog the other day, but I guess this is true: Politics in IIT, while not always making the best man incharge, also makes the people work hard towards making a mark. How else would you explain a ceratin 6 point something (and its a negligible something I believe) becoming the G.Sec of AIC (Academic Interaction Council: the body in IIT that runs the academic schedule). His CG and the post he holds seem to be a complete misfit with one other. It would much better be handled by the Institute Rank 1, you will say. But this guy has brought in sponsorships worth RS. 25 lakhs (unconfirmed reports put the figure at Rs. 30 lakhs as well) for Tryst, which otherwise was usually conducted on a Rs. 5 lakh budget. And he is working because he wants to make a difference, which was why he expressed his desire to become the AIC G.Sec in the first place. He also knows that any failure on his part would make him accountable to all those who rooted for him during the elections.
T&P cell, on the other hand, comprises people who think they want to make a difference in other people's life, but who more often than not tend to give up halfway. The T&P cell this year has been hailed for its professional approach, and its because of the perseverence of just two and three men. But there have been black sheep in it as well. I know of a person, one of my good friends, who worked day and night for the placement cell, till the moment he got his job, which was on the first day of campus itself, and then he just stopped. He wasnt motivated enough, he said. There are others who have got jobs and are still working for the cell, but these are too few, and the rest are working outside T&P. T&P, I have heard, buoyed by its new found success, and an all time average salary high, has stopped inviting more companies. And this, at a time when only 50% of the batch has been placed. And of these, some have multiple offers, from companies who have openly recruited off-campus and on campus at the same time.
Now there is even talk of paying a handsome salary to students who are working in the T&P department. This shall make everyone eager to do their bit, which shall further undermine the working of the cell. This, when only two or three people (even this seems to be an exaggeration, probably only a single person ) has worked hard for the cell. And then comes irresponsible statements from students working in the cell, "It is not the T&P responsibility to get everyone a job in campus. We are more concerned with the logistics and planning of companies visiting the campus." This is kind of ridiculous. I have lived with people who werent placed till the day they got their degree. And they werent the worst guys on campus. It was embarrasing, for them to tell everyone they had not been placed. And had the T&P cell be made a political body, we could probably have someone manage things much more efficiently. Then probably people could assure that everyone got jobs, not very high paying, but atleast jobs. The great IIT dream could possibly still be rescued. All it takes are some hardworking individuals. And possibly, some politics, or some accountability.