Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Typical South Indian Engineering College

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Other day I visited one of the self financing engineering to deliver a two hour lecture. This is the narration of what happened on that day of my visit. You visit majority of the established self financing colleges as guest and I am sure you will have some similar experiences.
On my arrival I was taken to the guest house and almost an hour later the Principal of the college joined me for breakfast. He started talking about the college and why his college is one of the best in the town. Here is the conversation happened between Principal and me.
Principal: Sir, you know one thing about this engineering college, we are consistently getting University ranks in each branch for the last three years. In fact last year first rank in Civil, Electrical and Electronics branch was from this college. 
Me: That is really good, so what was the percentage you need to get to become University topper?

Principal: Around 85%... 
Me: That may be tough to get, right?
Principal: Yes it is… but we are able to achieve this mainly due to the disciple we enforce in our college.
Me: Discipline? What kind of discipline are you talking about?
Principal: We make sure that 100% attendance in class is ensured even though University mandates only 75%. Even you miss one day of class you need to bring the letter from parents. No boy or girl is allowed to talk anywhere outside of their classes. Even in the college bus we have separate section for boys and girls and we have appointed teachers in each bus to make sure that no interaction happens between boys and girls.
Me: In this age also you are able to implement all these?
Principal: (very enthusiastically) we follow these rules very strictly. Girls staying in hostel have to be in the room by 6:00 PM and boys by 7:00 PM. Disciple is strictly enforced in the hostels also. Even when electricity goes off not even a single student shouts. If any of these rules are violated, they are severely punished. We have also uniform for both boys and girls in college.
Me: So do these students do anything other than studies?
Principal: Yes of course. We conduct annual cultural festivals where students can exhibit their various talents and we invite all the parents also for this cultural festival. But there also we enforce strict disciple by not allowing any western influence in these cultural festivals.
Me: What do you mean?
Principal: We don’t allow any cinematic dance or western style dance in our cultural festival.
Me: But those dances are so common these days.
Principal: These dance corrupt young mind. We strictly don’t allow boys and girls to interact. Our main selling point during admission is that “engineering education preserving Indian values”. Allowing these kinds of dances is against our principles and most of the parents also won’t like it.
Me: So students organize these  events?
Principal: No way. Teachers do it. How can you make students do all these? They are here to study, right?
Me: Do you have internet connection in the campus?
Principal: Yes we do. Our entire campus has wireless internet connection. Any student or faculty can use it. But we made sure that websites like Facebook, Orkut, all chat sites email sites other than college email is blocked. Why should student waste their time on such website that doesn’t do any good to their studies? Also all our internet servers are switched off at 10 PM.
We just talked for few more minutes and then I was taken to a room where I was supposed to talk. There was close to 300 final year students in that large room and I was supposed to give a motivational speech. Typically during my talks I try to interact with students rather than having a monologue where I am the only person talking. After few minutes into my talk I asked for a volunteer from among students to come up to the stage and talk for a minute about a person who has influenced you the most in your life.
Every student in the audience was looking down so that I won’t pick him/her to come to the stage. Finally I have to force someone to come and talk. I gave the microphone to that student and he was virtually shivering and could not talk even a single word. I have to make him go and forced another student to come to the stage. She also behaved the same way. This continued with another four students and I stopped this whole exercise. I realize that no student has the confidence to come and talk in front of their own class mates. 
I continued with my talk and after an hour into my talk I briefly started talking about resumes. I asked that crowd of over 300 students how many of them have resumes and any guesses on how many hands went up – ZERO. I was not surprised; I have seen it in so many other colleges – final year students with no resume.
I somehow finished the talk and now it is time for lunch. For lunch I was joined with Principal and Head of the Departments (all retired from some engineering colleges and over 65 years old). While we were having lunch I started this conversation after seeing how dormant the students were during my talk. 

Me: Do you have any campus placement happening here?
Principal: We are trying hard, some companies are coming but did not take any of our student.
One of the HOD: Sir, during interview these students don’t open their mouth. You saw today during your talk, right? These students are not at all smart. They only know how to mug up and write the exams.
Another HOD: We have paid huge money and got online access to most of the good journals. But rarely students use these resources even though we are providing high speed wireless internet access to all students.
Principal: We are giving them all they need. Still they don’t have the urge to develop those skills.
Me: May be if you take out those barriers – I mean allowing internet access 24 hours with no sites blocked, removing the rules that boys cannot talk to girls, increasing the entry time to hostels of both boys and girls, may be give the students more freedom and responsibilities may help
Principal: What Sir? Now they are not getting any jobs. If we do like what you just mentioned then even their values will be lost. They may be able to get jobs anytime but if the Indian value system is lost, it is lost for ever!!!
Me: Hmmm…..
I left that college in another 20 minutes understanding fully well that no miracle can save those kids. As long as we have people in the form of teachers and parents who believe that restricting everything a student likes is the best way to imbibe disciple and Indian values such colleges will thrive.
I rest my case here. Amen….
Photo taken from www.diplomaguide.com
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4 Comments:

Anonymous Sunil J said...

Culture is supposed to evolve. The ancient culture that we have came through interactions with other cultures. And it is high time that we updated it to the next version to be compatible with the current world

February 14, 2013 5:36 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

This is brilliant. I studied overseas from my 10th and I know a lot of South Indian students who come here and try to get a job. Most of them have internet skills, like looking for an article or writing a report that requires research. Even if they somehow do their masters, then they find it hard to get a job because they lack the confidence to do well in an interview. They rarely talk to Europeans, again because they lack confidence. In the end people complain that they didn't get hired because of racism.

While these students are very good in engineering theory, they lack job skills.

February 14, 2013 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Siju George said...

Excellent writing. Unfortunately the same is true with most of the professional colleges in Kerala (Except few Govt colleges).

February 19, 2013 1:34 PM  
Blogger Tarun said...

Good One.... Its not only in South Indian Colleges its same in many private colleges colleges throughout India, where in the name of preserving values and culture the students are restricted to interact with the members of other gender....

February 20, 2013 6:14 PM  

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