Who Succeeds at IIT / Prof. G.S Visweswaran

As the society and its value stand today, majority of the kids are trained from class I to get marks and more marks with little or no support for learning as much as for getting grades. When they reach class X they are pushed to be trained for JEE with the sole aim of getting in to IIT without any regard for the inclination of the kid or his/her preparedness.

The kids go through various competitive exams for admission to a good engineering college. The choice is first the college and then the branch. For example, If one can get Textile (I am not demeaning the Textile Department or the specialization in any sense) in IITD as opposed to Electronics in Delhi College of Engineering, one would rather go to IITD than go to Delhi College of Engineering, even if the inclination/interest is more towards Electronics, for getting in to an any IIT is a dream come true. Now the kids move into IIT of (destined) destination for their undergraduate programme. Some with a clear thought as to the area of UG specialization could be Engineering in a certain branch or Science or whatever. Our education system or whatever is existing trains the student to be smart and learn to beat the system to get maximum marks with minimum efforts.

Majority of the students fall prey to this training. There are some who do not fall prey to this but learn well and consequently perform well too. This lot of students learns no matter which discipline they graduate from and develop a desire and determination to learn, not influenced by the “quality of instructors”(category A). Amongst those who learn to beat the system, there are always a minority who are aware of the pitfalls of what they are at and develop an ability to fall back on honest work to get good rewards. It is not that these are dishonest students, but belong to that category which says, “for evaluation why rake your brains if I can beat the system, I will put my effort on selected areas and learn for enhancement rather than grades” (category B). Category A are students who do honest work, work on their assignments themselves, seldom copy assignments. Category B are those who do not mind copying when they are short on time but do their assignments on their own, sufficiently often, to keep their creative and active self alive and kicking. The rest of them I put in category C, those who go through the motion of getting a degree and finally settle down to a day-to-day desk or road jobs that keep the moolah flowing. The more successful in this category are those who knew how to estimate a system and evolve a method to beat it every time and the rest become a victim to the system and never rise beyond mediocrity.

Most of the students who go to the USA for studies, and finally settle down to serve the nation that gives them luxury more than the one that gave them the basic training in learning, are largely from category A and some from category B. Students in this category may have obtained a basic degree in an area not of their choice but what came their way. However, with the basic level of sincerity, ability to understand the demand of a system, they had the ability to be trained well in the area of their graduation and develop an interest in a specific domain that conforms to their latent abilities (This forms only a small percentage of the total graduates from all IITs). Furthermore, since these are not the students who look for beating the system and are capable, they succeed extremely well in a system that is geared towards harnessing its students’ ability and give them an opportunity to let loose their creative and innovative nature. A minority amongst this who still remain too lazy to be using the system but find it convenient to find ways of beating the system land up to be unsuccessful, much to the consternation of “relatives” back home.

After over 60 years of IITs and so many graduates, we are still able to count the number of successful people and list them within a couple of pages easily, this does not reflect a great talent but a lack of it in reality. The talk of IITians being inherently and naturally more intelligent is all Bull Crap, this is like Shockley’s claim of scientific proof for racial superiority of the whites. To me every human being is born equally intelligent and able, it is the opportunities and their appropriate use that separates one from the other. People may say that the environment or atmosphere at home does contribute. Sure it does, but then this is what opportunities and utilization are all about.

Some call it Luck some call it Hard Work, I call it “Realization of every act has a time and place and they succeed
only at that time and place”. It is recognizing that time and place that makes or breaks a person. Every lack of success should teach you to learn to recognize the appropriate time and place and find the right breaks to succeed.

What pulls one down is the uncanny ability of the human mind to dwell in self-pity. Before I sign off, it is the collective identity of all IITs as one unit that gives us the Brand Equity, and not the individual brilliance of one IIT or the other.

G. S. Visweswaran

G. S. Visweswaran

Visiting Professor IIIT-Delhi Former Professor from IIT-Delhi VLSI, Design of Digital, Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSI Circuits

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