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Career: Is IIT, IIM about the good life?

‘Career queries’ like this one really bug me.

“… I am expecting an admission in IIT for computer science or mathematics.At the same time I am also getting an admission in IISc for BS. In future I want to do MBA from a good university. I want to work as a investment banker. I am very confused which option would be better for my carrer.

While reading your books and articles I realised you are the only person who can solve this problem with your valuable guidance… Expecting your reply soon.Thanking you in anticipation.”

I don’t think this is what the founding fathers of IIT had in mind when they set up these institutes! Young men who are completely focused on the idea of an MBA even before they enter a BTech.

It’s clear that this dude wants only one thing in life. A good life.

Therefore, the query is a no-brainer. An IIT-IIM combination is most likely to lead him to an investment bank.

Whereas IISc would be a good option if he actually had some interest in science and was open to a career in academics or research.

Call me an idealist but I always imagined that the brightest and best minds would want to work on solving the problems of humanity. The mysteries of the universe. The purpose of life itself.

These goals are often unattainable but desirable. If people did not strive for such goals the frontiers of human life would be very limited. The comforts we enjoy would not exist.

And even at a very mortal, individual level, we are limiting ourselves. This boy – all of 16 or 17 – has no idea who he is. What he is. Does he have the capacity to work towards an idea without external incentives? Or is he merely a slave without visible chains.

I see the potential of IITs grossly unfulfilled, unutilised.

Last year, I had the privilege of visiting MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). My daughter and I took the ‘campus tour’. At the end of it – we were both bowled over. Not just by the buildings but the idea of an institution that nurtures and stimulates geeks. That celebrates technical genius.

MIT graduates earn respect for creating new technology.

For discovering new particles.

For writing formulae and inventing and building.

I wish there were more IIT graduates who would wear these kind of badges and return to their institutes. To enlighten young minds about other possibilities in life.

You can aspire for more than a job on Wall Street.

You can set your sights on a Nobel Prize

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