Deepti Naval, Rajit Kapur, join Shyam Benegal in denouncing IIT brand dilution

Joint Entrance Examination for IITs

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Washington DC – The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the leading institutions of engineering and technology, have been under constant attack in recent months by the current Congress-led government in India, with its short-sighted populistic policy to create new engineering institutes under the IIT name, and the scrapping of the IIT JEE (Joint Entrance Examination), thus diluting the brand name of the earlier IITs.

In the US, academia and former IITians are aghast at this adulteration of the decades-old brand name of IIT, and education pundits point out that none of the leading institutes across the world, including the likes of Harvard and Stanford, have added new colleges to an established brand.

India America Today caught up with Shyam Benegal, Rajit Kapur and Deepti Naval to ask their take on this move by the Indian government, which threatens to dilute the quality of engineering education offered by IITs and the overall brand value of these prestigious institutes.

Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan-decorated Benegal minced no words in lambasting the government for its moves to dissolve the standards of IIT, saying, “I feel a bit disappointed that we instead of raising ourselves to that level, we drag it down and which is not such a great idea.”

Noting that the “certain elite status to the IITs … has been essentially because of its merit,” Benegal concluded that the political imperatives are “based on certain kinds of needs and requirements of the country itself.”

“Whatever the imperatives might be, because its always better to reach up to something than to bring something down to your level,” said Benegal, adding, “Education, particularly, I feel is one of those areas that, although you must provide access to education, to first class education to everybody, but it should not necessarily dilute the process, because diluting the process means accepting mediocrity.”

“Now IITs are not meant to be institutions that create mediocrities. They recognize merit and they hone your abilities to its highest quality and those institutions of excellence should not be touched,” argued the legendary film director.

His views were echoed by Deepti Naval, an award-winning actor-director and ace actor Rajit Kapur.

Calling it “not the best move right now, what is happening,” Deepti told India America Today, “Diluting is a sad thing to happen actually — it should not be. You have to raise the benchmark, you have to reach there, rather than bringing it down,” adding, “It would be much better if the people reached up there and deserved to be there.”

Kapur, known for his award-winning portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in the 1996 film, The Making of the Mahatma, called IITians, “path breakers,” and feared that “diluting the system may decrease the number of path breakers coming out of IIT.”

“So its a scary sign, but I really don’t understand the reasons for the government doing this. Is it a financial burden… but diluting the entrance exam is not really a solution,” added Kapur.

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