This is always a hot topic for us during lunch time even after 8 yrs of graduation and working life. I am highly biased and kind of advocate of IIT superiority. Don’t get me wrong here, I really love and respect everyone who has done anything great. I also don’t just go with IIT tag name for long, IIT tag is just to start a conversation at work place. I dont give time to many as I feel most of coworkers have no life and just living because they have to : ) and pass their time. Most of them really dont have anything except movies, jocks and IPL matches. I do watch movies but dont discuss them and IPL is out of list so cannot spend time with ordinary crowd.
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Recently, I wanted to classify or to say make a cluster of engineering colleges on some absolute index and tossed this topic on lunch. The good thing is, we have all IITians lunch team, no negative thinking again : ). They asked me why would one treat IITs differently from other institutes. I had this question in mind and always tried to find why they are so different from other schools. Not all IITians are same for sure, but the question is why the ratio of them is so high in changing the world (both at national and international levels). If you have any confusion or doubt about their contributions I recommend you “The IITians: The Story of a Remarkable Indian Institution and How its Alumni Are Reshaping the World” by Sandipan Deb.
I will share few key differences between IITs and other institutes, not only to understand why they are different but also for everyone going to IIT to feel what they are expected to target when they are heavily blessed by such a system. If they don’t understand this, they will be no different from others.
The first and foremost thing one gets after admission to IITs is attention. Whole family, street and city suddenly starts to admire you. The school you went, now invite you to give lectures and tell other students how study to get into IITs . The magnitude of appreciation and recognition is too high and can lift someone to highest levels of confidence. Eventually that result in high number of successful cases compared to other institutes in the world (yes in the world).
The second important thing is faculty. Any institute is made of two basic things Students and Faculty, not rocks and bricks used in buildings and books in library. They come along with one another, provided an economic and social ecosystem. You have best faculty you get best students and the institute give great results then everything get recognized. IITs housed some of the brightest brains of India since day one. The ecosystem central government provided is unmatched and unprofitable for any private or corporate university owners. Few people argue on the importance of new IITs, but I say judging them today when they don’t have their own infrastructure ready is unjust. Compare them in 5yrs span and see where do you place them. Trust me not all faculty are great at IITs, you find couple of chaploos (buttering higher authorities for positions) type too but majority of them are excellent.
I keep student extracurricular activities in third place. This is where you meet friends for life and this is where your career path and who you will be decided. The kind of activities you involve in and kind of participation you have (mostly) define what you are and how you going to influence the world. You will find a group for almost any activity you think of, with official support from Dean Students Welfare Office. I was an active member of Himalayan Explorers club, Member of Telugu association, Active member of SPIC MACAY. I also had an active role in elections and won Bhawan Secretary (President of Hostel), Institute Mess Secretary (President of all cafeterias in IIT), Student Senate member and also had key responsibilities in department. I met really amazing people in the process and someone of them are leading entrepreneurs in India with millions of dollars of funding. Don’t take me wrong I was one of the lovable researchers in Institute, won IBM award for outstanding research, you can see that in all news papers. These places basically make you and define you, yes there are exceptions and I am not addressing them. The amount of activity and opportunity students have with in combination to intellect, is hard to find anywhere else.
When it comes to infrastructure like libraries, labs, incubations, sport complex and gymkhanas it’s hard to believe that you are living in India. The area of each IIT span over 100s of acres of land with lush green fields and a lot of place to sit alone and reflect on your future along with great habitat. It’s hard to find that in India. This is why I returned to IIT even after joining ISI Kolkata as faculty. Eventually moved to a place where I am now after couple of months.
Though the post became longer, I will mention this last thing and let you decide and think about IITs. The fifth and most important thing is IITs inspiring alma mater. When you feel lost and don’t know if you are doing good or not, you have some people to look up to, who lead the life you have are living and left a mark. You have so many great people in all walks of life from your own Hostel, from your own department and from your own institute who challenged the world and changed its course of action. If you don’t have the ability to create new ways or definition of success, at least you have examples you can follow and still be hugely successful. To know the contribution of IITians read the book I mentioned above. IITians who dont know about what the contributions of their alma mater end up doing jobs in google, fb, samsung ; ) and other leading companies.
IITians who enjoy every bit of this ecosystem are hugely successful and challenging limits and inspiring people. Many who are IITian and dont realize their main course of action are going though an ordinary life like other engineers. Do read my coming post on Are All IITian Same?? for more detailed study.
Hope this helped you in figuring out the difference between IITs and other good institutes. Wish you all great luck ahead and huge success in your dreams.