college, IIT, India

Do all IITians go abroad and should they go abroad?

Many a time, most of us would have heard of the disdainful retort for any IITian “You will leave the country and go abroad and use your talent there”!! We have all heard of the word “brain drain” and how India’s top rated and best talent go abroad in search of better educational and business opportunities. Is it really true? Do, all IITians really leave India at the stroke of midnight in their final year? And once they leave, do they never come back?

Well, to be frank, I have seen many, many IITians stay back in India and start many fine entrepreneurial ventures.

Without taking the pandemic years(when student aspirations had to be put on hold) into account , here are some interesting statistics about IITians:

  1. Only about 40% of IIT Gandhinagar graduates are supposed to have received an opportunity to study abroad or pursue an internship abroad in 2019(Source: https://www.livemint.com/education/news/iits-to-hold-entrance-exam-in-us-with-eye-on-students-faculty-1568704075085.html)
  2. In January 2017, fewer than 200 of the 10,000 of the IIT graduates went abroad (Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/indias-brain-gain-fewer-than-200-iit-grads-went-abroad-last-year/articleshow/56578855.cms)
  3. In the year 2016 -2017, only 4 percent of IIT students opted for positions outside India( Source: https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/story/reversing-trends-in-placements-fewer-iitians-opting-for-international-job-offers-156506-2019-01-09)
  4. According to IIT, Tirupati, Director, only 10% of the graduates want to go abroad for higher studies. This can be compared with 70% of IIT graduates going abroad in 1984 (Source: https://www.edexlive.com/people/2019/aug/15/less-iitans-are-opting-to-study-abroad-they-want-jobs-iit-tirupati-director-7472.html)

From the above statistics alone, it can be figured that many IITians are opting to stay back in India and pursue ventures within the country(of course, this is only a small research done by me)

So, why are not many IITians leaving the Indian shores?

Some of the reasons are listed below:

  1. ‘Entrepreneurship’ is the name of the game for youngsters in India today. Many IITians do know what they are going to do once they graduate from college. They may already have a business idea and get to work on it as soon as possible.
  1. Many IITs do foster and encourage students to start their own company and achieve their business goals. As an example, IIT Roorkee has an entrepreneurship cell which is open to students to start their business venture(https://www.ecelliitr.org/)
  2. We all know of many successful ventures started by IITians. Some of them are Ola, Zomato, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Razorpay, Dunzo and more
  3. Salaries within India are as good as in foreign countries(and after having been adjusted for cost of living factors)
  4. Many also think of pursuing a higher education within India (IIM)
  5. In addition many also pursue UPSC exams as well

These may just be a few factors why IITians do not think of going abroad(now, many will go abroad – not everybody stays back but the proportion of students staying back might have increased)

In spite of all these factors, should IITians and other graduates go abroad?

My thoughts on this:

I would definitely say it is good to experience life outside India to have a 360 degree life experience. Staying abroad for 14 years had definitely made me see things in a better perspective!

It is also good to experience the foreign education system(US/UK) and other work practices as well.

After all it is one life to live – might as well experience it all and live it well!! πŸ™‚

college, IIT, India

2nd year at IIT, Roorkee – A Mother’s perspective

And just like that we are done with the 2nd year at IIT, Roorkee too! πŸ™‚ Like last year, I would like to reiterate that I am not studying in IIT, Roorkee πŸ™‚ but my son is…. you can read my last year’s post here

July 2020 and beyond:

The pandemic struck in 2020 and India went through a grueling lockdown from March 2020 to June 2020. Once June 2020 arrived, hopes were high for a return to normal life. Could schools re-open, could colleges re-open and could people return to work? Unfortunately though, the virus was just getting started! 😦 From June 2020 to October 2020, India’s first wave was crushing everybody and with no vaccine then, it was not wise to re-open anything. Nobody understood the cycle of the virus as none of us had ever lived through a pandemic.

IIIrd semester at IIT-R:

IIT-R decided to physically reopen the college in July 2020, but had to scale back the plans as the virus was raging all over India. Online classes became the only way that classes could move forward. IITs have students from all financial backgrounds and from all over India(even North East India) It was quite unfair to assume that everyone would have a stable laptop with an even better Internet connection! Many had left their laptops in their rooms in Roorkee, in March 2020 when they left for their mid-semester break! (inclusive of us! :()

Surveys were conducted to assess the situation and how many had good devices through which they could attend classes. When it was felt that all students could attend online classes, remote learning started. The initial hiccups were there and everyone missed campus life and campus learning. All yearned to go back and do a normal living(which has not been possible even till today!:()

The staff and students slowly got used to this new way of learning. Mid-term exams had to be scrapped as most were figuring out the logistics of conducting exams. Those courses that had lab components were pushed to the next semester(in the hope that colleges would reopen atleast by January 2021….which could also not happen) Videos were shown of the lab experiments and students could understand it that way. Quizzes, tutorial sheets and presentations were introduced to grade the students.

There was hope that ‘R’ land could re-open at some point of time in the New Year and students could physically give their end term exams. January 2021 came and went but B.Tech 2nd year students could only give online exams.

Overall, the third semester was a learning experience for both the students and staff of IIT-R. All of them had to get used to this new way of studying and assessing the students. The third semester was not a gruelling experience academically but it was an uncertain one thinking that the college would reopen soon.

IVth semester at IIT-R:

The fourth semester at IIT-R started in February 2021 running almost a month behind. IIT-R battled pandemic chaos in its own environment.

In January 2021, when COVID cases had ebbed, few Master’s and Ph.d students were asked to come back to campus. A small set of COVID cases were detected in campus which soon swelled to a nearly 100 cases! Testing, isolation and treatment is not very easy in R-land. Many staff and students were impacted and the second wave was becoming more difficult for everybody. The second wave was touching more people and conducting the fourth semester was not an easy one.

Inspite of that, classes went on almost normally and there was more structure to the classes. Having gone through one semester of online classes, both students and staff knew what to expect. Quizzes, presentations , tutorials were given and this semester was definitely more academically challenging than the third semester. You could finally feel the IIT heat every once in a while with the son screaming “stressed”! πŸ™‚

Clubs and groups in IIT-R were also running online with new recruits and new activities.

Since the COVID second wave was affecting off-campus students and on- campus staff, the end-term exams for fourth semester was cancelled after a survey. Students were graded on their previous assignments and grading was tight! IITs were slowly learning the art of “continuous grading” instead of putting most weightage on the final exam(though most weightage was on the mid-term exam this time)

Overall, the fourth semester was a much more satisfying semester than the third one since many have accepted this new way of studying. It is quite a certainty that the next semester will definitely move ahead in the same way.

My feelings :

While, most of us were initially grumbling about this new reality that has been thrust on us, as a mother I felt content that my son was safe at home and did not get caught in the hostel in the 2020 lock down. Thoughts are always there about when he might be asked to go safely back, but I think that day is still a few months away.

Son though feels that he is missing a portion of his precious college life, but I am sure life will have a lot of good things in store for him for the future but for now though… we have to bow to the rules of the pandemic and stay safe!

Note: My son returned from IIT-R in March 2020 and has not returned back since then. Hopefully, the world will become safer for all us to return to the real normalcy soon!

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.’ 

college, exams, IIT, India

Ist year at IIT Roorkee

And just like that the first year at IIT Roorkee is over. For those of you who don’t know me might think I am studying at IIT, Roorkee( I wish, I was though πŸ™‚ :)) … but that is not the case, it is my son who is doing his B.Tech at IIT Roorkee!!

It has been quite an amazing ride to be a parent and watch your child compete and clear one of the most toughest competitive exams in India! It was just 1 year back that we heard the news that he had cleared the JEE advanced and we were busy selecting the college after various rounds. We finally locked our college selection at the 3rd round with IIT, Roorkee(though if we had waited for a few more rounds, he might have got into IIT, Delhi which is ranked higher)

IIT, Roorkee:

I have never lived above the latitude of Mumbai in India and the son had never moved anywhere apart from our beautiful southern states in India. We were curious about the new North Indian adventure and how life would treat us/him.

Roorkee is a small and simple town(from my first impression) located about 3 hours from Dehradun. As I have already written in an earlier post, IIT, Roorkee is one of the oldest educational institutions in India. Being an old institution, guarantees that everything is settled and everything is in its place. Professors know how to conduct classes, they know the student mindset very well and most of the things move like clock work. Life as with any undergraduate course work is hectic and students are always kept on their toes.

We initially thought crossing the geographical distance from Bangalore to Roorkee was painful. We didn’t know the correct path to arrive at Roorkee – but who is a better teacher than experience, right? After 2 or 3 times of travelling, we knew the correct flight/train/bus to take from our origin to destination.

Academics:

Now, like I have already said those IIT kids are total “brain boxes”. The sheer intelligence of kids(can I call them “kids” at 18 or 19 years of age? :)) blows you away. If we think we are smart in an IIT, there is always somebody smarter than us!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ The Computer Science kids in IITs are just mind bogglingly brilliant .. there is no doubt there(of course, smart kids doesn’t mean immune to the disasters of life!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Of course, with that kind of immense competition also comes stress. To handle that kind of stress and increasing number of suicides in IITs, IIT, Roorkee has come up with its own “Wellness center”. The first year in college is always a tough time for kids and parents to adjust. It is the first time that kids are leaving their nest and it is the first time that parents are letting go.

IInd semester:

Just as we were warming up to Roorkee and were happy to see the son getting settled in his second semester, the pandemic struck! 😦 Luckily, the son was home by then- but the question now for colleges in India was how to complete the second semester. Online mode of education was tried but it was difficult to achieve it completely since students in IITs are from remote corners of India where basic power and Internet problems persist.

Even as it looked( and it still does) more and more bleak for colleges in India to reopen due to the pandemic, it was finally decided to wrap up the current semester through various grading means. The semester has finally been completed and first year at IIT, Roorkee for the son is done! πŸ™‚ (it was quite a bummer that it couldn’t be completed in the traditional way, but we have to have to bow down to the pandemic rules, right?)

Some tidbits about IITs:

  1. There are many economically challenged children who make use of the education at IIT and that is always heartening to see
  2. In IIT, Roorkee, all students get a single room from the second year
  3. Some students get a single room in the first year too
  4. Many students have their own YouTube channel which flourishes
  5. Many write technically awesome content on ‘Medium’ and more
  6. And many students do feel the academic pressure in IITs and will get lower scores
  7. And unlike private colleges, we have to clean our room on our own! There are no maids to sweep and dust our room! πŸ™‚

Here’s to looking forward to a better 2020!! πŸ™‚

Note: All these are a mother’s perception alone – a child/students’s perception might be different…

IIT, India

IIT myths and realities:

  1. You know the headlines that scream 1.54 crores for an IITian? Well, that is a reality for only a miniscule number of IITians and it is an international offer and definitely not all get it.Β  The average IITians salary range is 11 lakhs per annum which is still 140% higher than other engineering colleges in India…(Source: https://qz.com/india/1329635/grads-of-top-iits-and-iims-earn-over-twice-more-than-their-peers/)
  2. Those IIT kids are brain boxes – that is a reality that can never be a myth! In a school environment there are always kids from different academic calibre – but here there is only one calibre – the best of best! (now, there will be brainy and smart kids elsewhere in other colleges too – but they may not all be together like this)library-438389_1920
  3. Did you know that the IITs offer financial assistance by offering amazing scholarships to the absolutely needy students? This is one way of uplifting India’s needy and enabling them to reach the upper strata of society. If the income of parents is below 1 lakh/year, then the students will be eligible for complete fee waiver!! Yes, you read that right – there is absolutely no fees at all!! πŸ™‚ In addition, if the income of parents is between 1 lakh and 5 lakh/per year, then those students have to pay only 2/3 of the tuition fees. In addition there are many other waivers for SC/ST and PH(physically handicapped) students. Isn’t it amazing to hear about all these fee waivers and the ways to uplift the economically challenged sections of the society? πŸ™‚
  4. Rote learning – India’s hyped system of education in many movies ceases to exist in the IITs(that ceases to exist even after 11th grade) You are constantly bombarded with a lot of assignments and now you have to think, analyze and crack the assignments with a lot of time management!
  5. Competitiveness is extremely high. Nobody is going to be sharing assignments, notes and helping you with all your doubts in all probabilities! πŸ™‚
  6. Many IITs have young faculty who are in their 30s!! (Young India, problem!! :)) For example, in IIT Dharwad, the average faculty age is only 33.9 years!! (Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/younger-teachers-replace-grey-haired-professors-at-iits-iims/articleshow/70986008.cms) What does this mean for the students? Students and Professors are at par and there is always an influx of fresh and brand new ideas!!
  7. Mental health is always on the forefront and counselors regularly conduct sessions in the IITs if any student needs them.

These are some of the myths and realities after my son’s first semester at IIT…I am sure there will be plenty more for me to blog about in the coming months! πŸ™‚

Note: If you would like to read about our IIT journey and other posts, start with this post followed by these:

IIT – A Mother’s perspective!!

IITs and their branches

The most sought after branch in an IIT/engg college…

Hope you learnt something new from all these posts and have a delightful day!! πŸ™‚

 

college, IIT, India

India and startups!

As we moved back to India 9 years ago after a long US stay – there was another thing that caught my eye in the Indian business scene. It was not prevalent in India when I moved abroad in the 90s. It was also a very silent and slow progression which could easily be missed. But if you stay in India for sometime and observe it – you will definitely see theΒ  revolution! It was an amazing revolution that produced new ideas and great businesses!Β  What was it?

It was the ‘startup’ revolution in India…

Dinosaur era:

As one of my fellow bloggers would say, we are all engineers from the “dinosaur” era of coding!! πŸ™‚ We have worked through all the ancient programming languages that you might have not even heard of…. πŸ™‚ (‘C’, ‘Pascal’, ‘Fortran’, ‘Lotus 1-2-3’ and ending with ‘Java’ for me!) All we wanted to do in those days was to land a plum software job that paid well. I think most of us or all of us achieved that dream at one point or other.

With many of us moving abroad, our career dreams were restricted to our visas. Either we could work only for the companies that sponsored our visas(H1) or we were on dependent visas that didn’t give us the eligibility to work.

The thought that we could ‘start’ our own company might have never, ever crossed our minds in the US(at least it didn’t cross our minds) And if it did, we sure had to wait to get our GCs(green cards) or Citizenships along with good financial backup to start our company. This would have definitely got us into our 40s or so…Amongst, the many of my engineering classmates only a few started a company of their own and none of us Computer Science majors did! (sorry, 89BZs of PSG Tech!!)

The current day in India:

Today’s young India is eager to start a company of their own and fly solo as soon as possible! They are not scared of taking the risks that come with entrepreneurship. As I look at the engineering scene in India(from my son’s college) – most take a dive into entrepreneurship right after a few years of corporate experience. This feels so exhilarating and fascinating! Being your own boss and creating a completely new business model which flourishes must be totally exciting and rewarding!

business-891339_1920.png

Did you know?

  1. The median age of young startup founders in India is 31?
  2. After the Startup initiative was announced in 2016, India has seen 23,705 startups?

Here are a few startups:

Many startups have surely touched my life and made it easier… here are some of them:

  1. Swiggy – Food delivery giant ‘Swiggy’ does not own any restaurants but just felicitates interactions between users and restaurants and is a clear winner. It was started only in late 2014 by BITS alumni and IIT Kharagpur alumni.
  2. Practo – Online health portal which was established in 2008 by then 20 year old engineering graduates allows users to make appointments and make online consultations.
  3. Cure.Fit – Health, Fitness and nutrition are all rolled into Cure.Fit which started its operations in 2016
  4. RazorPay – is a Payment processing firm which was founded by IIT Roorkee alumni
  5. FlipKart – the very popular e-commerce firm founded by IIT Delhi alumni in 2007

There are several other successful startups like Ola, FreshMenu, FreshToHome, Paytm, Zomato,Wow!Momo,BigBasket, Myntra, Housejoy and many, many more…

I am sure young India will churn out many,many new companies in the future…and I admire all their families, friends and co-workers to stand by them as they go about creating history!

Cheers to the brave, young entrepreneurs!

 

 

IIT, India

The most sought after branch in an IIT/engg college…

….is after all these years, “Computer Science”!! πŸ™‚ I can hear many of my friends from college, old colleagues, family, friends and others cringe at this thought – but it is true – “Computer Science” or its variants like “Electrical”, “Electronics” still rule the technical world.

I have heard so many people who are already in the Computer Science field(for about 25 years or so) that they might not prefer their children to be in the same field – for varying reasons like long work hours, instant layoffs, stiff competition, extreme stress, total burnout and more. But truth be told, “Computer Science” has in fact grown tremendously in the last 20-30 years giving rise to amazing job opportunities and salaries for many.

Earlier, there were only programming languages(like ‘C’, ‘Pascal’, ‘Fortran’) to be learnt in Computer Science field but now there are several other branches to it. Cyber security, Android programming, Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and many other paths have spawned because of the Internet revolution, smartphone revolution, online shopping and many other necessities of life. The Computer Science field is also guaranteed to grow more giving rise to totally new concepts.

In fact, every branch of engineering needs knowledge of Computer Science and some basic hacks and cracks to master it. The current era demands every professional to be technically savvy.

digital-388075_1920.jpg

Other branches:

The core branches like Mechanical, Civil are not going away anywhere – because one cannot work on a computer with no roof built by a Civil engineer over their head and an automobile to make them mobile!

But many students who do the core branches most likely branch out into Computer Science eventually for better job opportunities. Only a few of them remain in the core branches (like my better half :)) (at least from what I have seen) since they are extremely passionate about it.

Do the non-Computer Science branches offer the same number of job opportunities and salaries as the Computer Science branch?Β  My better half would say “yes” πŸ™‚ but I cannot say for sure.

Though, most people from the non-CS branches get placed well initially, the career mobility might be restricted to a few companies down the line. And if you are extremely specialized, your job opportunities will reduce even further! In such cases, when there are few companies to switch – consider the case, when you are dissatisfied with your current organization –Β  What do you do? You search for companies to move to and you only find a handful of them(!) making it even more frustrating!! Now, this is not going to be case for all non-CS people, but it is just a possibility…

What are your thoughts? Is the rush for Computer Science validated? Or not?

And if you have been in the Computer Science field for quite a while – are you happy? Will you encourage your child to go into the same field? Why or Why not?

Have a lovely day! πŸ™‚

 

 

IIT, India, Musings

IIT-R life!

“I may be an IITian, but my mom is the real GENIUS!!”:)Β 

goes a saying on a mug at the IIT-R souvenir shop…:) Now, that IITs themselves recognize moms,Β let us dive into more of this mom’s IIT-R tales!!

With the son living in IIT-R for almost a month now, it is time to recollect some more of my experiences at IIT-R and the small things that I really loved about my short stint there!! πŸ™‚

The subjects:

  1. Most first year students have a set of common subjects(as in most Engineering colleges – Math, Communication skills)
  2. The lovely part is they have a paper on ‘psychology’ (yes, engineering students have to study ‘psychology’ πŸ™‚ ) After all, most of us know that work life is not only about technical skillsΒ  – there are people skills and relationship skills that are needed to manage the work space too – so in my opinion good to study psychology!! πŸ™‚ though the students themselves might not be too happy studying it!!)
  3. Remember the IIT entrance exams do not test you on English? Well, the English testing is done once you join college and eventually there is a paper that is ‘Communication skills(basic)’ or ‘Communication skills'(advanced) in the first semester
  4. In addition, they are compulsorily expected to take one extra curricular activity( either a sport, Taek-wondo or NSS) which is also something that I liked. It is good to keep the students busy with sporting activities so that no one remains idle and gets into mischief! πŸ™‚Β  Making it compulsory is even better according to me!! πŸ™‚
  5. Mental health was seriously talked about in the orientation. If anybody was depressed or stressed they were urged to talk to the health counsellors right away!!(very nice!!)

IMG-20190828-WA0031 (1)

IIT-R lingo!! πŸ™‚

I remember we had so many words and code words for so many things in my engineering college and hostel too!! It was easy and fun to use them as well…

Now, coming to the lingo that is used at IIT-R, some of it has English and Hindi mix which is easier to understand. The other totally slang Hindi ones are totally beyond us!! Anyways, I am confident that the son will learn it all and enlighten me too, by the end of his degree…:)

At the beginning of the semester, all students got a ‘Campus dictionary'(forwarded) pdf file which listed all the code words used in IIT-R(which might be common to all IITs as well) Many of my North Indian friends might be able to decipher most or all of them… can you see which ones you can understand?

  1. Kholu
  2. Gaaon
  3. Bakchodi
  4. Chapo
  5. Ghissu
  6. Dulla
  7. Chaggi
  8. Despo
  9. Fachche
  10. Haddu

There are still more… can you find the answers to these?! πŸ™‚

Scroll down to understand these IITian words …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. ‘Kholu’ is the person whose AIR opens the branch(“Branch ka kholu kaun hai?” is a popular question πŸ™‚ :))
  2. ‘Gaaon'(village) – is the area of ‘bhawans’ that is supposedly far from the main campus area and characterized by less interference with major campus affairs
  3. Bakchodi – Gossips with no conclusion, apparently!! πŸ™‚
  4. Chapo – shortened form of “Chai Pakoda” which means a treat or party
  5. Ghissu – are students with high CGPA and no social life!!
  6. Dulla – are dual degree students
  7. Chaggi – are students with light minded approach and a CGPA around 6
  8. Despo – obviously meaning, desperate!!
  9. Fachche – is an enthusiastic fresher!!
  10. Haddu – Delhiites calling people from Hyderabad or South India!!

I have learnt a lot today – reading this and writing about this.. did you? I almost feel I am in college again… πŸ™‚