First of all, iam not an IITan ! But iam going to talk about my perception of the IITs.
Mcdonalds can expand, IITs shouldnt !
Iam going to talk about IITs from the Indian perspective and the global perspective.
Being born in the early 1970s, i was part of the IIT craze that took our school years by storm. In the 1980s, the 5 IITs were considered godly and hallowed. They were on a pedestal which very few could dream to reach. Infact my class set a record of 27 IITs in 12th Std. I was the odd one out 🙂
To give you an analogy, we all are aware of the power of concentrated sulphuric acid. You touch it and it cuts through you with its power and intensity. So were the IITs. If you were an IITan , you were not only revered but your career was all set. We all wanted to get in just to be called an IITan. But what happens when the sulphuric acid is diluted?? It loses its raw power and intensity. It is a watered down version of the original that anyone can touch or use. Thats the status of the IITs today. Not only have the 5 IITs lost their halos but also the overall IIT brand. The students in the original IITs had a natural aptitude which is now replaced by the coaching factories manufacturing students to do well in an exam, not to do well in your career.
Coming to the Indian perspective, IITs have done well due to their students.The students define the IITs. You get into IITs and pass your way through to a coveted job. The IITs dont really transform you from an engineering/technology perspective but give you a brand name to ride on. Similarly the IIT gains from the students who come in who are generally of above average intelligence.
From a global perspective when one compares an IIT with MIT or Caltech there is no comparison. The research output of these schools is way ahead of the IITs and not only that, these schools are defined by the quality of their professors, student diversity and research output. Infact the students at these schools are much more diverse and average to above average intelligence. These schools look at a well rounded profile than just the scores. These US schools truly transform incoming students through multi-disciplinary research that touches real problems.
The IITs started as a a great initiative but stopped short of becoming great by focusing more on expanding student intake thus diluting their brand. But we need to remember that the aura of the IITs came from the fact that intially there were 5 IITs with around 1500 seats . But increasing the seats to 5000 the aura is gone. There can be only one MIT or Harvard or Rolls Royce . If we start diluting the brand the brand is gone.
Today getting into IITs is a rat race that starts in the 5th standard. There are 5000 seats and the number of aspirants will touch 15 lakhs, probably in couple of years, and we are talking about a selection rate of 0.1%
However most students lack creative thinking and adhoc solutions to problems !