As much as I would love to deny that people in our country are not obsessed with IIT and IITians, it is a fact. And the primary reason why is because of their entrance exams.
- 13,00,000 aspirants vie for 9,300 seats at the JEE level (undergraduate). Only 7 out of every 1,000 17-year-olds manage to get into IIT every year.
- 8,00,000 aspirants vie for 2,800 seats at the GATE level (postgraduate). Only 3 out of every 1,000 21-year-olds (and above) get an opportunity to do their masters at IIT every year.
No wonder the 10 youngsters who beat the other 1,990 young boys and girls of their age (in an exam they spent at least 2 years preparing) are going to stand out in a crowd.
But it would be unfair to blame the IITians for this attention. They never asked for the spotlight, neither do they go out of their way to get more of it. Neither does it mean the non-IITs (NITs, BITS, private colleges/universities) are not as competitive. Some of them are on par with the IITs today (or even better in some cases).
The media and the coaching centres are responsible for this hype. Because of them, IIT is the first choice for engineering aspirants in the country. Only those who fail to make it to IIT consider other colleges and universities. We don’t want to look beyond IIT, or even engineering for that matter. Nobody cares about the 20,88,000 aspirants who DON’T make it to IIT every year.
This is sad, but true.
Also read: Parvati Patil and the IIT Coaching Centre.