The title will sound strange. Please be patient and by the end of this blog, I hope, you will understand it.
The new semester has recently started and I’m once again doing five new courses and have five new teachers. All the profs are okay, a couple are good. But one fellow is strange. Let me not name him. He’s taking the Design of Steel Structures course. Now this fellow seems to be least interested in design or steel or structures or the course itself for that matter. There have been four lectures till now and he’s talked to everything but these three words and any combination of them.
His favourite topic of conversation appears to be the flaw in the IIT system. I don’t think it’s his fault at all. That actually happens to be the favourite topic of conversation for everyone around here. People related to the IIT have this strange notion that nothing except the IIT is important and therefore discussion related to the IIT fills up most of their time, free or otherwise.
Let me get to the point fast. In this professor’s view, the IIT philosophy of imparting a holistic education is flawed. We are supposed to be an engineering institute and there is no point in teaching so many courses from humanities or pure sciences. The remark affected me emotionally which in itself if some news because it is very difficult to move me. At least that is the impression I have of myself. Once I was watching Charlie Chaplins Gold Rush with Jimmy John, a good friend of mine. After the movie he asked my opinion about it. I said it was a good film, quite funny. But, he said, you were hardly laughing!
Anyhow, the remarks affected me because I myself belong to that category of students who are more than busy getting a holistic education and screwing up their academics, or rather the engineering part of it.
The question is – which way is correct? Should the IITs target to develop your overall personalities or should they just concentrate on making world class engineers. For the starters,
Dr. Suchitra Mathur, who I’ve got to know quite well over the last couple of years and who has been a guru to me during this time, emphasizes that the IITs were not set up to produce engineers but leaders. And leaders need versatile personalities. Some people, unfortunately, do not agree with her.
The question is also larger. As a student it faces you at every moment of your life. Do you make a bee-line to your goal or do you meander towards it? I’ve always been the meandering sorts, even during JEE time, and I don’t think I can ever be anything else. I believe it has paid off well for me. Being very good at some particular things take you a long way ahead in your life – I’ve always envied JEE rank one. But being average at many things has its own advantages. I find myself to be comfortable in more situations than most people. I can carry out an intelligent conversation on more topics than others. I enjoy more facets of life than others.
Life after all is not a one way track. It’s more like a jungle. You have to wade your way through, never knowing what you will encounter at the next step. What you thought you’d do ten years hence you might never actually do in your entire life. Why concentrate on one thing then and miss out on all others?
Still, I withdraw any harsh words against the above mentioned professor for it is my belief that every individual is correct.