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This is going to be a highly opinionated piece. I’m going to substantiate my opinions with reasons. My answer: More IITs is definitely a good thing. However, let’s look at both the aspects of this debate. Is opening more IITs a pragmatic decision?

Government Announces More IITs: Good or Bad?

I haven’t met many people who oppose the idea of having more IITs. Yes, there are some who argue that it will affect the quality and excellence of the IITs across the country. As much as I’d like to disagree, this argument has some truth to it. And what is even truer? The fact that it is inevitable.

I will explain it with this thought experiment. Imagine you are Col Sanders and you’ve just set up your first KFC outlet. Once your new eatery becomes famous, thanks to the revolutionary taste of the sumptuous chicken, you want to expand. So, you decide to open outlets in nearby cities, which is a natural step. However; shortly, you face a glaring problem—the level of control that you exercise over your KFC outlets, decreases with every new branch you open and (it is quite possible) so does the quality of chicken. In this situation, should you think that it’s enough and stop making any more money? Or should you find newer ways to keep expanding and improvising the quality? The most logical answer is the latter.

The introduction of more IITs means something similar. Some people may question the need and ask why should the state establish more such institutions. Their minds are flooded with doubts—aren’t other private engineering colleges providing an opportunity to students for a decent education? Why must we dilute the excellence of IITs by making more of those? These arguments miss a fundamental point. An increase in the number of IITs will not affect the quality. Picture this. There are ten campuses in the University of California. They don’t affect the worthiness of UC Berkeley or UCLA, the first University of California campuses. On the contrary, it made education accessible to everyone, including the less privileged. Similarly, even in India, more campuses would naturally translate into better opportunities and access to education. It would lead to more diverse exchanges of faculty, facilities and students. Of course, issues of autonomy cannot be ignored. Massive bureaucracy is no friend of creativity, so universities must have the right to decide their course structures, pedagogical methods and educational policies.

One cannot rule out the importance of a strong faculty. Some of the best Indian researchers are teaching at prestigious centers in the US and Europe. Quite often, they are a product of the IIT undergrad system. Yet they always prefer to settle down as researchers abroad, despite the fact that tenures in the US universities are harder to crack than in India. Are we doing something wrong? Private engineering colleges and small-state technical institutions are just not equipped to do cutting-edge research in technology. We need institutes with the size and funding capacities of the IITs, to enable high-quality research and retain our best brains. Of course, the best of the lot will eventually find themselves at the top IITs like Bombay, Delhi, and Madras and so on. It is crucial to have a training ground that encourages excellence. Institutions should help students flourish in the first place rather than stifling their intelligence!

How justified is establishing one IIT in every state? Don’t they have NITs? Well, they do. But this is 2016. A much higher number of students attempt the JEE than ever before. So, we can surely expect more students who can become IITians. A few thousand rankers who make it to the top engineering schools in the country may deserve their place. But considering the size of the aspiring population, it seems unfair that a whole lot of deserving candidates are left out to lose. More IITs mean a win-win situation for all.

The Government has given approval to several new IITs to start admissions from 2016. This has increased the number of colleges giving admissions on the basis of JEE-Advanced 2016. You can find the complete list of these institutions here.

We would love to read your comments on the views expressed in this article.

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