Quality Vs Quantity

The government recently announced a flurry of measures and incentives to promote its re-election campaign. Among them was the opening of more IIT’s and IM’s at various locations over India. One cannot help but wonder: is it doing more harm than any good?

The Indian Institutes of Technology were started with the help of foreign aid with a specific aim in mind: to impart quality education in the various fields of engineering and to raise the Indian standards. Today, the IIT’s are ranked among the top five colleges in the world second to prestigious institutes such as MIT. The level of education imparted is undoubtedly among the highest standards. The entrance exam or JEE is among Asia’s toughest exams to crack. Barely 5000 lucky students make it every year to the seven IIT’s across India. The only reason why an IIT is spoken about with hushed tones of reverence is because only the best make it usually. And an IIT graduate literally holds the world in his palm. Companies and colleges track him down, each with more lucrative offers than the other, only if to use his expertise and knowledge. In a country where almost every second child is an engineer or a doctor, a country where there are more than a lakh of engineering colleges, the IIT’s stand out solely due to the quality of the education provided.

Similarly the Indian Institutes of Management has been the main cause for India’s foray into the global corporate world. The IIM grads are among the top most professionals in their respective fields and there is no dearth of offers to choose from. Many of the world’s biggest companies have an IIM graduate among the top ranks. Again there is no dearth of management colleges or MBA holders in our country. However the IIM’s have made the difference in the way they have approached the field of management. Again as in the case if the IIT’s, the CAT or Common Admission Test is another one of the toughest exams in the world to crack. Examinees with scores of over 99 percentile still fail to make the grade by as little as 0.1 percentile. The lucky few still have to negotiate their way past the interview before they are granted admission.

If the number of these colleges is increased, one does wonder: will the quality remain the same? The only reason why the IIT’s and the IM’s get the best are because these colleges have a fixed number of seats. To be among the chosen few, one has to be at the top most of the ladder. However an increase in the number of these colleges means an alarming increase in the number of seats. This will increase the number of aspirants and might reduce the quality of students who make it past the exams. Already our country boasts of the highest number of engineers and management graduates in the world. Do the top most colleges in these fields really need to open their doors to every Tom, Dick and Harry who apply? True, the CAT and the JEE may still filter out most of the average students. But there will be a certain percentage which will make it past the exam, the percentage which might just affect the extremely high standards that these colleges boast of.

I am of the opinion that increasing the number of these institutes will not serve any purpose but might result in a dip in the quality of the standards. After all there are so many management and engineering colleges in our country. Do we really want to see the two topmost colleges in our country become like a host of the average colleges that are present in these fields? Let the very best fight it out among themselves to gain admission in these institutes. It will help both their cause and ours. India will still retain a strong hold in the quality of their graduates among the global population.

Budhadtiya Banerjee

[Image courtesy: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/11/19/images/2007111950881501.jpg]