But what has blurred this thin line that separates educational institutes from being providers of high quality education to someone who provide jobs?
Shouldn't institutions also take part of the blame? What factors have led to educational institutions being perceived as placement agencies?
The educational institutions are also responsible for blurring this line and there are a number of reasons why this line is blurred.
One is partly an assorted mentality. Those of us who grew in the shortage mentality -- you guys are too young to know what that means -- have had this oh-my-god-I-must-find-a-job issue. It is a survival issue.
When Nehru first initiated these (educational institutions like the IITs) they were temples of learning, temples of modern India. They were for transforming society. Unfortunately, apart from what happened in the 1950s and 1960s very, very few high quality institutes got started in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Some three to four lakh (300,000 to 400,000) people apply to the IITs and only 3,000 get in. What kind of a ridiculous shortage is that?
That shortage has created a desperate thought that come what may you have to get into these institutions. So with this process taking roots the whole process of education got killed.
From Class VIII itself you send your child to a coaching class or to Kota (where coaching classes that help prepare students for competitive examinations for institutions like the IIT are located) where whether the child likes it or not s/he has to get into either engineering or medicine.
I think an average Indian parent would commit suicide than rather accept that the child is going to an arts college to learn history. Especially if a boy says so.
No Indian family would want to say that my son is studying history. They would rather send him to a fourth grade, useless, engineering college. So it's our wrong mentality.
We have forgotten that education is for the enrichment of the mind. That's why we are putting a lot of emphasis on giving the message out that we value people with a non-engineering background. We want people who have done arts, literature, sports or have a armed forces background.
Because of that shortage you just put four, five, six years of your life to just get into these institutions and then expect a return.
Also, perversely what has happened is why are people going to the IITs? Not because they want to do engineering, but they want a job. And why is that happening? Because the IT industry is recruiting in large numbers.
But the IT industry can as well take a history graduate or a science graduate, anybody who can think logically, and train them in seven months or so. That's what happens in the rest of the world.
In that sense the growth of the BPO industry was a big boon to India because a young person who could speak English, could communicate well suddenly had an opportunity to get a decent living.