The Great I(IT)ndian Dream

Disclaimer: This post is heavily biased towards IITs and IITians in general. Go ahead only if you are interested. Anyways I have already got your page view if you are reading this. ;)

    Another thing off my head. This post is inspired by a recently raised question on Quora about IITians' contributions. Btw if you are interested in something else than "aww.. so cute <3" pics and statuses on Facebook, and want to indulge / read good moderated discussions on all the topics you could imagine, Quora is the place to be. Anyways that's for another day, back to the topic. Here I go.

    When someone asks you, where do you study, and you say IIT, following are the major classes of responses you get.
- They dont give a fuck. They just treat you like a normal guy from a good college.
- They confuse it with ITI or some private institute located far away, where you unfortunately had to take admission (possibly with donation) because you didn't get it into a local college.
- They treat you with respect, envy, and awe. Classify you as a nerd / geek.
- They hate you because you are a non-performing investment made by government on tax payers' money.

    Lets talk about the last one. I have personally and digitally (personally, but on internet) met two people who had the same response. Obviously my views are gonna be in favor of IITians, but I welcome your views in the comments section.

    The hottest category in this is that IITians generally tend to fly off to US or some other first world country. Lets look at the trends. One one side, where we are proud of these bigshots such as Vinod Khosla,Vinod Dham, Sabeer Bhatia, Vinod Gupta, Rajat Gupta, Raghuram Rajan who have become iconic international figures or many people working in Silicon Valley or NASA, the other side we think that it would have had been better if they had stayed in India. Well the hard fact is that they couldn't have done anything had they stayed here. In a scenario like 1980's, they just didn't have the infrastructure and opportunities to do so. I would rather say that it was a step well taken. When India had more pressing issues like poverty, illiteracy, etc. to cater to, these were the very people who were building the BRAND IIT which we are leveraging today. After early 1990s, the trend started to change, thanks to globalization. Companies like Infosys, NIIT were founded by them. They were hired as the top officials of any mulitinational's arm in India, because of the brand creation which happened due to the migration of Indian engineers 20 years back. Multinational Corporations like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, most automobile companies made (and is making) huge investments in our country increasing our revenues, our real estate values, our economy and our employment. Who do you think are leading them in India? And in addition to all this, they contributed to a significant Foreign Exchange (things which control oil prices ;) ) And now in late 2010s, things have only gone better. We have awesome success stories like Filipkart, Junglee, Zomato, etc. The concept of venture capitalism is also catching up. They have high paying jobs (in case money is everything) here in India only, again given on the premise of Brand IIT only. And the trend has been changing. From 70% of them going out of the country, the number has dropped to 30%. Why do you think petrol prices have gone up since late 2010's (:p). Jokes apart, guess what, moving to a developed country didnt hurt India after all. If at all, it has only helped her in the long run.

    Another point being made by various people is that IITians dont contribute enough to academia and governance / politics / NGO's or nation building as a whole. As a matter of fact, 60% of IIT's faculty are IITians who are mostly a PhD from one of the top 5 institutes in the world in their respective field. As far as nation building is concerned, first of all, not everyone who works in government wears an IIT badge. Its hard to count their contribution who aren't that famous. Secondly, the mentality of people that they are "expected" to work for their country, since 80 percent of the fees is out of taxpayers' kitty, is not fully correct. They worked their ass off for getting into this institute. Even they deserve to reap the benefits, in whatever way they like. Of course, IITians should, and some really do, feel grateful and they give back to the society. I have a classmate, one of those guys who reminds professors of pending assignment submission (ya he is a pain :p), but he is actively involved in all kinds of social services' activities that is supported by Institute. Then there is my wingmate, or my hostel senior, or hundreds of freshies who are involved in similar tasks. A feeling of "giving back" is cultivated among us in freshman year in NSS program, and some of us really pick it up and pursue it in later years as well. At a bigger level, there are various NGOs operated by IITians or which live on donations by them. Coming to politics / governance, there are many people working in it like Raju Narayana Swamy, Manohar Parikar, Jairam Ramesh, Nandan Nilekani, Raghuram Rajan, or the ones who became famous recently, Arvind Kejrival and Ashok Khemka. These people hold various key positions in IAS, IRS, Cabinet ministry, Chief advisory to PMO, etc. D. Subbarao, the guy who signs on our currency notes is also an IIT alumunus. In 2011, 85% of the people (sampled survey) who were UPSC aspirants were IITians. Talk about not giving back to the country.

    To summarize the post, in and all, I see the situation is pretty balanced. There are people who stay here and don't care about money and lucrative lifestyle and give back directly by contributing to academia or bureaucracy or take up jobs / start businesses in India itself, and those who go out, do cutting edge research with other country's money or get high paying jobs, earn loads of cash, send some of them to India and keep on building Brand IIT and Brand India. There is no reason to feel unjustified or angry over IITians wasting your money, because they aren't.


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