Guest blogged by Anuj on April 11, 2008.
India is hoping to become a super power and yet it’s set to perform a massive, radical self inflicted brain surgery in order to remove whatever was good about it. Information is power, and the only way we can progress as a country and as a species is by driving out ignorance. So are we progressing towards that? Well no.
The IITs, the much hyped colleges for engineering in India, are bullshit; they actually fail to educate people up to the required level, that’s why companies spend so much on training new recruits. The total amount of intellectual output they produce, all of them, is less than that of MIT. Compare the total number of graduates MIT produces (8000) to all of the IITs combined (4000), and that’s just one institution, doesn’t this tell you something?
Look at DRDO, ISRO* have these organizations done something truly groundbreaking? We are yet to send out a probe to the moon and in this day and age when private entrepreneurs are planning to do it**, the government should be ashamed of this. Oh I forgot, they’re a bunch of shameless, hypocritical pricks.
You know, how they have decided to go about this?
With reservation; the Indian Supreme Court*** has upheld the decision for reservation in colleges, government jobs and the various other places it happens. You know what reservation is now up at frikkin’ 49.5%, nearly half of the people who will enter into the best colleges of this country like IIT, AIIMS, DU etc. will not deserve it, even worse is what will happen to the already teetering infrastructure in these colleges, no one will in the end get the quality education. I just want to ask one question: why?
This essentially shows the myopic policy making practiced down here, nobody has thought of what happens in the long run, which is disastrous. What we’re essentially doing is that telling people who’re better than them, a ‘no’ because they weren’t born in one of those families, this is the real apartheid, ignorance can’t be driven away by ignorance. Nope, they’re much better off spending money on the crumbling primary school infrastructure and setting up policies which encourage merit, not this, but then again will this get them votes?
In short they are the true Hillary Clintons of the world, they’re getting killed and they don’t have any hope, yet they choose to mess up the battlefield and leave things worse off than they are.
They should improve the crumbling government schooling system; make it better by infusing capital and skill in order to provide quality education to the masses, hell make them better than the private schools, thus ending their monopoly over knowledge. The poor cannot get quality primary education in this country and if the basics themselves haven’t been covered, then how can they expect them to do anything in the future?
Next up is our higher education system, which is still standing, somehow. What we need to do is that we need to create more institutions, which are better than the existing IITs, we could invite foreign universities to set up shop over here. They’re pretty interested in India and I think that by letting them set up shop here we can get a better curriculum, thus we can change the way education is imparted in the country. It will take time but it will work, do you know why we need to change the curriculum? Because it’s useless, people are actually under trained, that’s why companies spend millions of dollars every year to train their new employees; doesn’t this tell you something?
We desperately need to re-vamp the system; it doesn’t foster innovation rather it alienates it. It needs more funding, more investment in new institutions with uniform quality standards, which should increase over time, look at the Chinese they’re doing it. We need competitions like the X-Prize, which help people to compete, practically, with their innovations to solve pressing problems for a big incentive; we need to get people more involved in the functioning of the world; we need them to connect the dots. This way we can solve literally everything, yeah even the Riemann hypothesis, prove it rather.
The government agencies in effect should foster this process and nurture this, like DARPA does, we can learn a lot by observation and it’s time we do. Instead of re-inventing the wheel over and over again, we should get our facts straight and realize that we can’t afford to do this, we can’t afford to play with fire like this, sooner or later this combustible mix of power and ignorance will blow up in our faces, and we’ll then stand and play those stupid blame games.
The only thing that should exist, except for the merit based application system, are scholarships, we need to get brilliance into our colleges not village clods, who don’t know anything. Competence should be the judging factor not genealogy, hey after all aren’t we all descended from one common ancestor? How does that fit into their plans?
In short an injection of money and skill is needed in order to prevent the system from collapsing under it’s own bureaucratic weight.
*Agreed they have developed geo-stationary capability but that has been around for a while, they could have easily learnt it from the Americans or Russians, they have done nothing truly groundbreaking in the fields of astronomy, space exploration and aeronautics which are its primary responsibilities. Why?
They’re under funded, who would want to work for such a crappy institution when they could easily get a job at NASA, where they would pay 10 times as much as they pay over here, plus they do actual research.
**Think Google + Think lunar + Think Different = Google Lunar X Prize
*** I used to think that the Supreme Court was free from corruption and, probably, was one of the few clean institutions of the land, that wasn’t meant to be; money talks and these courts are there up for grab for the right price, like every other institution in the land.
My father’s friend was telling me about several cases where the judges have been bought not for lakhs, but crores, and that behind each and every decision there’s, usually, lots of money involved and anyone who speaks up loses his/her job and position. If the organs themselves are involved how can one expect justice? Mass mobilization is the only way out, or one could use the game theory and make corruption a disincentive, by imposing harsher penalties, improving detection methods, aiding people who talk and adding moral humiliation to it.
See if the top ranks are corrupt then corruption cascades down the system until the whole organization is corrupt. People are corrupt due to the fact that it has major incentives involved and that everyone else also is, so it becomes a matter of survival. Change this, and you change everything. Read, Michael Shermer’s excellent article on this at sciam.com, click here.