I happened to see this video on a friend's wall post in FB and it triggered a whole lot of emotions which come and go once in a while.
Before anything, I must say I feel good to have been able to stay in the esteemed campus for a while amidst of so much going on academically. I wish I had been there at some better time when my life itself wasnt an utter chaos but nonetheless I feel good that I do. My brother has done his masters as well as his phD from IIT Mumbai and I must say he is exceptionally brilliant as were his fellow students from that place. It bustles with life.
However, there are quite a few things in my mind that go along with IIT, this term has been there all through my growing years.. like you know, you are good only when you can get into it. Well, not everyone but a vast majority used to think that way. I hated the parental pressure back then so much and I dont like it much now either.
Graduates from IIT and IIM are no doubt the best, maybe the best in the world among their counterparts but still I hate the people who look down on anyone else who is not from one of those institutions. Yes, you are intelligent and you got lucky to be a part of it, we respect you for that BUT.. NO, no one gives one right to look down upon others because of that or anything else for that matter. I dont say everyone of them is like that.. most of them are very simple, humble and grounded and teach us a lesson or two in humility but the minority few do irk me a lot.
They don't get it on a platter, they struggle really hard, some times at the cost of many more things important in their life. I have seen my brother go for it, not because anyone wanted him to do it but out of his own interest. Nothing ever comes easy and I have seen him slog, I have seen him grow as an individual, I have seen him through the best and worst during that phase. In short, it made him what he is today.
I happened to stay in a hostel for a while with my brother which housed students with issues, those brilliant boys succumbing to pressure, crumbling badly once in a while not able to cope up, some very very tiny statistical value end up losing everything despite being able to get to the top, the race ultimately takes over them.. so must say have been witness to the other end of the aura. It is painful to see those geniuses struggle to learn basics of living like social interaction and stuff.
I know a lot of kids whose parents drive them crazy right from 8th or 9th class to get through IIT which takes maybe 3,500 people at the max at one go, each year across the campuses in India. I have seen people make their kids do it again and again multiple times, to get into deemed institutions. I have seen kids cramming away from pre-dawn to late night having little else in life. I also happen to understand that this does not stop even once they get into the institute. I am amazed at the talent those kids had, the all India ranks they had, the scholarships they had won but still struggling to just barely survive.
Now, I question myself do I want it for my kid or any kid.. it is a double-edged sword, the answer, I think, because unless we show them various paths they will be at loss to figure out what they want to at that early age.. do they really want to be put through all this? Is there not a way so that we make it likeable for them and not just force it on them. I know a lot of people who really really want to be there and work for it.. Brilliant, but how do we have more of them.
I have seen people's attitude towards an IIT graduate. When someone asks me about my brother and I say he has just finished his phD or whatever he was doing at that time and the immediate question from where and when I say IIT, the name itself brings in so much of appreciation and there is an instant change in the questioner's demeanor and it happens almost all the time. I am happy for him but only because he did it willingly.
How do we guide a kid, mould a kid.. exposing to all the possible avenues of life and help them make the best of whatever they have, to come to terms with the capabilities and at the same time limitations. Try working on enhancing the capabilities and overcoming the limitations, just a little step each time and not a giant leap by any standard making like a pleasure and not pressure. Be the best in what you do.. err.. WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
Whatever it is that the kid wants to be, I personally promise to give my best for her so that she gives her best to it, no two ways about it...
There is another aspect to this whole thing, the brain drain stuff which is another point altogether.. my primary concern, however, is just the pressure..