The thought of writing on the topic came to my mind when I saw media channels especially regional ones, praising and interviewing the new IIT JEE topper Arpit Agarwal almost relentlessly. There is of course plenty of reason for him to celebrate, having won the rat race that comprised of 5 lakh students across the country, most of them who slogged for hours per day without even the slightest thought of anything else. The matter concerned with here is, why is the media trying to over hype the situation, or does it really think IIT is an exam which decides who the smartest is? Or does it realize that the society thinks so.
Almost one lakh students from all across the country visit Kota, Rajasthan every year with the hope of cracking IIT JEE and other such entrance exams. The place has essentially become a hub for students and teachers alike for its lucrative number of coaching institutes and its increasing demand. If one does manage to study the environment there, it can be easily realised that the psychology of students there are quite different (and not in a healthy way) than of students of other urban and sub-urban areas across the country. Not trying to censure the fact that most students, who chose to go there, have done it at their own will, but the reason behind the will cannot be exactly called appropriate. Most students have the urge to crack the exam to feel appreciated and envied by their relatives, and the notion that ‘they would make their parents proud’. The whole point of education trying to figure out the interest of one is lost. For students who slog their wits out in coaching institutes, it only matters to them what their relatives and parents think, and what can help increase their ‘pride’. In India, the competition has turned out to be unhealthy for many, due to the increasing number of frustrated engineers that we come across every day. This again has led to a vast number of suicides especially in the top engineering colleges.
So how can this commercialisation be stopped, and how can education get back to its true motive? Well first students should realise that whatever is taught in coaching institutes and even engineering colleges has nothing to do with the kind of work that one can expect after they begin working as an employee. Most engineers get places in IT companies, which almost have nothing to do with the core studies of engineering, and as such they are trained to know what exactly their work is before they start their work. The focus of students should not just be on whether they like their subjects in their course, or worse whether their parents approve of it, but to try and find out what kind of jobs they are interested in, and what profession would they be satisfied with. They should also realise, by the growing number of investment in engineering colleges that the economy works on demand, and demand can stop at any point. One can’t and shouldn’t pursue a course with the hope of a big fat pay check just after graduation. The focus should be on whether they will enjoy the course and whether it suits them or not. This should also be a matter of concern for parents, and not just students. Movies like 3 idiots and Aarekshan have tried hard to criticise the commercialization of education, but whether it was successful enough to change the mind-set of the common man is still a query.