IITs: Six Steps to Techno-Heaven
Your cover story The Best and the Brightest (May 29) was
long overdue. iitians have always excelled wherever they have gone. Sandipan Deb's
accompanying viewpoint too was superb. The four or five-year tenure each undergrad spends
on the iit campus couldn't have been more articulately expressed, in so few words.
Shubhodip P. Chowdhary,
How I wish all other seats of learning were as untouched by
the "witless, scoundrely, untalented politician", as the great late M. Krishnan,
ornithologist, author and photographer described our noxious netas. The cream always rises
to the top. But, as Bertrand Russell lamented, "Clever men are in laboratories, fools
are in power". It holds true for India.
P.R. Krishna Narayanan,
As an iit alumnus, I returned from the greener pastures of
the US a few years ago - enthused by a certain idealism - to become a faculty member at
one of the iits. I was disappointed to find that the enthusiasm most entrants bring with
them dissipates soon due to lack of receptivity to newer ideas, a bureaucratic environment
and lack of incentive. And while policies and overall orientation of universities abroad
(having taught there) stays the same with change in the top leadership, the iits remain
Being an ex-student and an ex-teacher of an iit, I endorse
all that you say. But whereas the iits have managed to keep out political interference and
parochialism, they haven't quite escaped red tapism. Routine matters like appointment of
ad hoc staff, purchase of equipment, maintenance of cash, etc, takes time. Similar
situations exist in other academic institutions in India, but the sense of wastage is
greater in the iits, given the quality of their students and faculty.
Your cover story was inspirational. But are discipline,
hard work, honesty and fellow-feeling to be had only within an iit campus? How can you
undermine education by branding it like this?
I was horrified to see not a single woman mentioned in your
entire story. Forget the alumni, even the on-campus photos didn't feature any women. Is
your outlook so biased?
Are all iitians men? What about women who pass out of here
and who could be doing much better than their male counterparts? Don't you think they
deserve a mention?
Krishna Kumar Ruthia,
iitians, to say the least, are overhyped. The only logic an
iitian follows is applying to A, B, C university in the US, getting out after MS, working
for two years in Motorola, trying for a business school... It's true of at least 70 per
cent of my class in the US.
A great story. But with a small correction. You say the
iits were Nehru's greatest gift to his nation. I think it was his gift to the developed
world. Who cares if these iitians are doing well abroad?
Your cover story betrayed a sad truth: all 'successful'
people mentioned in it were in the US. How's India benefited from their exploits?
Ex-iitians might pump in money, but it only helps the migration of future passouts.
Research quality in the iits is also suffering. Did Nehru envision this, or is it another
case of flawed economic thinking by our first PM?
Santa Barbara, US
It's ironical that you project the iitians as 'doing India
proud' when most of these 'superbrains' are absorbed by mncs. These mncs were recently
reported to have evaded taxes to the tune of over Rs 1,400 crore. Surely these
'superbrains' too are a part of this in a small way. Doing us proud? I think they've 'let
"How many, obsessed with the American dream, settled
for second-rate US universities, hung in for a green card, and today work at unfulfilling
jobs in Idaho?" I was particularly amused by this somewhat deprecating reference to
Idaho by Sandipan Deb. The companies here employ about 25,000 high-tech workers and have
revenues 10-fold greater than Bangalore's entire software output. The electronic chip
manufacturing facilities here are acknowledged to be some of the most advanced in the
world. The quality of life here is assuredly better than what Nehru envisioned for India.
Your cover story on iit might have just increased the
competition for the jee. I have already devoted two years of my teenage life totally glued
to books. Reading your cover story, it seems I'll have to spend a few more.
The iits and iims were created with the purpose of
producing leaders in technology and management who'd focus on India's development. Now we
find 80 per cent of iit passouts leave India and travel to the promised land with no
intention of returning. Was this Nehru's dream? Or has it turned into a nightmare?
Now that I know of Sandipan Deb's non-journo background and
his link with iit is known, I request him to slice down the excessive political flab
Outlook's accumulated and come out with an exclusive science section for science-minded
After many a drab week, Outlook once again brings out an
exciting issue - on the iits. You score over your rivals in that your cover stories are
substantial, and remain an easy read.
Sometimes I wonder why there has been no Nobel Prize winner
from the iits whereas the mits and Stanfords, European and even Japanese universities
The Bawling Bowler
Your cover story When Icons Weep (May 22) has made me into
a cricket hater from being a diehard fan. Now even India's 1983 win seems suspicious. How
could Kapil Dev cheat a nation whose people showered him with all the adulation? When
icons weep, it's to the glycerine manufacturers' profit. Kapil ranks along with Laloo and
Jayalalitha in terms of greed and fraud. As long as India has the likes of them, we'll die
economically as a nation.
I don't care a damn if Kapil took the money; he has at
least taken the pains to deliver the goods a thousand times more often. What about the
hundreds of our hard-core politicians who go scot-free even after looting public money?
Contrary to Sandipan Deb's assertion - 'I don't care if he
took the money' - how can we look the other way if it is proved that Kapil Dev took the
money? Why then the hullabaloo over Hansie Cronje? His achievements as captain are by no
means less. Why then talk of reopening the files of M/s Warne & Waugh? It's time to
let the law take its own course and keep this spurt of emotions in check, Mr Deb and Mr
What subcontinental psychology is Sandipan Deb talking of
when he says "we people ignore corruption as long as the work gets done"? Indian
philosophy and psychology teaches us to do our duty sincerely regardless of its fruits or
rewards. We, as teachers, try to inculcate such a value system in our school children.
This article seems to convey to the children (as readers) that "it's be acceptable if
I cheat as long as I get 98 per cent".
I have no problem believing that Kapil Dev offered Rs 25
lakh to Manoj Prabhakar - but not for reasons cited by the latter. Prabhakar played for
India much longer than he should have. The situation must have got so embarrassing that
Kapil offered Prabhakar the money not for playing badly in some match but for not playing
It's high time the so-called guardians of cricket stopped
this mudslinging. Why was Manoj Prabhakar waiting for all these years to reveal the name?
Was he hoping that some tabloid would give him money?
According to newspaper reports, icc president Jagmohan
Dalmia has filed three suits in the Calcutta high court against Outlook, India Today and
Sunday Telegraph of London claiming
Rs 50 crore as damages for defamation. The court fee alone
will come to a couple of crore of rupees besides the fee payable to an eminent advocate
like Siddharth Shankar Ray. The source of these funds certainly require some
Whether Prabhakar's lying or speaking the truth hardly
matters now. To cricket lovers, the game will never be the same again. Even a cbi inquiry
would be useless. All those nail-biting finishes, the interesting matches - they might
just have been fixed. Ask someone who used to wake up at 2 am to watch the World Cup
Does Sandipan Deb mean to say that great persons should be
forgiven if they commit mistakes and ordinary people should be hanged? Isn't the game
above an individual?
I fully agree with your saying that "icons are not
elected by a majority vote". And I am a big fan of Kapil. But if the charges against
him are proved true, he'll no longer be my icon. In that case, I'll remember him as a
great cricketer and then a wheeler-dealer, chapter two of the same book.
One wonders if Outlook would have been as sympathetic had
the mystery former Indian captain been M. Azharuddin? One doubts it. In fact your esteemed
magazine would have called for a immediate ban on Azhar...
By doggedly following up on the match-fixing controversy,
coupled with some excellent investigative reporting, Outlook has done yeoman's service to
the game of cricket worldwide. I'd rate it as probably the best reporting of the last
That Kapil is guilty was proved when he broke down during
his interview on bbc's Hard Talk. Such people should not be given prominence and should be
banned from appearing in the media - electronic or print. He should be stripped of the
honour he has been bestowed with as a coach and should be tried as petty criminal.
How could you malign a great cricketer like Kapil Dev? The
guy spent half his life playing for India and a tabloid like yours comes along and wipes
out the guy's reputation. The editor of your piece of tissue paper should have had the
courtesy to get Kapil Dev's side of the story. I can't do much against a magazine like
yours but I can do one thing - cancel my subscription.
Not in Gest
It's frightening to note that it took the army nine months
to draft a denial to your September 6, 1999 article on Kargil (Letters, May 29). The
reason behind this delay is not routine inefficiency, it's much worse. If the aim of this
rebuttal was to salvage the image of the army, I am afraid the legalistic and defensive
thrust of the denial only succeeds in reinforcing the impression that something is
seriously wrong with the army.
Brig (rtd) K.S. Chhokar,
The two book reviews in your May 29 issue forget to mention
the language in which the books were originally written. Alladiya Khan could not have
dictated his memoirs in English - however "plain-vanilla" (the reviewer's word)
it might be. In the case of Madhavan Kutty's The Village Before Time, the language of the
original book (Malayalam), the publisher's name (IndiaInk) as well as the name of the
translator who also edited the volume (Gita Krishnankutty) are all suppressed for some
What has happened to our senior journalists? Reason and
analysis seem to have deserted them. Your main rival carries articles on Sri Lanka by a
senior 'analyst' that leaves all readers befuddled. Now Vinod Mehta in his Delhi Diary
(May 29) tells us that the advice Sonia is getting is all wrong. She can change her
advisors, right? But, then again, meritorious advisors are not prone to sycophancy!
Talking of the plight of the Congress under Sonia, Vinod
Mehta says: "She is aided...by an extraordinarily mediocre, self-serving, cynical,
incompetent, selfish, ignorant and greedy first eleven..." True, but who's
responsible? Not A.B. Vajpayee! For the past several years, any worthy Congressman who had
significant political presence and support base was either marginalised or forced to leave
the party. Which is why Sonia today can lay claim to be the country's PM just because she
has been married into the Gandhi family.
Sweet 16 She Wasn't
Indrani Roy Misra's letter in your May 22 issue states that
"well-known lawyer Abhishek Singhvi married a girl at the age of 16". This is
totally incorrect. The date of birth of my wife Anita is July 22, 1964. We were married on
December 8, 1982 - when my wife was 18 years and approximately 5 months old. My date of
birth is February 24, 1959, and, consequently, on the date of marriage, I was
approximately 23 and a half years old. Both of us were thus above the legally permissible
age of marriage for women and men respectively.
The Original Original
Paromita Shastri's piece on the Narmada dam (Is it a Dam
Good Way?, May 8) did begin in a way reminiscent of Arundhati Roy's by now celebrated
essay "The Greater Common Good". But for the nba to rebuke her (May 22) and to
say that Roy's piece was much better written, is, to my mind, petty. Even Roy's essay
reminded us of the beginning of Ayn Rand's celebrated The Fountainhead. I quote:
"Howard Roark laughed. He stood naked on the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below
him." Are we supposed to conclude that Roy's is a bad take on a masterpiece?
There seems to be much criticism of Arundhati Roy for her
viewpoint, 'A venal, dangerous lie' (May 8). Maybe Outlook should educate its readers on
why ecosystems are important, for it's my understanding that the common man doesn't quite
appreciate the issues. Here in the US, dams are now acknowledged to be environmentally
unfriendly, and in fact, in several locations, have been dismantled. Researchers now feel
that even when needed, the focus should be on smaller projects which don't threaten a
Swinging Both Ways
You really made me feel ashamed that I subscribe to your
magazine, when I read your latest article on Kapil. The previous two issues carried a
near-vilification campaign against India's greatest cricketer ever. But when he appeared
crying on the bbc, you came out with a spirited defence of Kapil. Having done most of the
damage in the two previous issues, how could you have diluted your stand and almost sided
with Kapil? Then, when even after Kapil had pointedly asked the media not to write or say
anything based on third-party allegations, your article was chock-a-block with phrases
like "seems to have", "alleged to have" - again, all third-party. Grow
up, people! I am so disgusted that I'm thinking of cancelling my subscription to Outlook.
Reading Sagarika Ghose's viewpoint When Beauty Hurts (May
29) was very strange. Even stranger was the accompanying photofeature on Miss Lucknow.
Comparing Miss Universe with Miss Lucknow is utterly unfair and ridiculous where the
contestant won the crown for wearing a dress worth Rs 18,000. Accept it, Lara Dutta won
the Miss Universe title on her own merit. Her calmness and confidence, and not the shadow
of an mnc, helped her win. Nor has India started winning beauty pageants ever since it
opened its economy, it's rather because Femina took over the pageant in 1991 and their
hard work and determination have paid off.