Indian “Core” Industry? Ridiculous!

August 25th, 2007 | Categories: iit madras | Tags:

In its recent decision, IIT Madras has decided that students in their third years of engineering may complete their internship requirement at Indian “core” industries only (via vatsap). This rules out students who are interested in research to do their internship in universities in India or abroad. There are many students who are not happy with the rule and have clearly expressed their anger in IITM Squirrel mail.Let me justify why this rule doesn’t make sense.

Firstly, IIT Madras is a deemed institution and can take any decision it wants. I am not here to contest that. On the outside, this rules does make sense. We are given a degree in a specific branch of engineering, and are expected to meet certain standards set by the institute in order to get one. Exposure to Industry is one of them. And since it is “mechanical” engieering, “electrical” or “aerospace” engineering, we need exposure to the respective “core” industry. Dig a little deeper and the reasoning is flawed in academic interest.


Few months back, I remember reading an article my Richard Dawkins on thinking in groups or categories and drawing lines between them. He talks about evolution saying there is little difference between humans and non humans but we have different set of “moral” rules for human and non-humans. This imaginary line that we draw, between humans and non-humans or different branches in engineering, is quite unhealthy. We ought to learn to see them as a range rather than categorize them into different branches. Entire stream of engineering is held together by mathematics. What we learn in a given field is applicable in the whole spectrum of branches. What we learn in Atmospheric modelling can very well be used by a business analyst in stock market prediction or in signal processing by an electrical engineer. If the institution is trying to confine the knowledge of its students to their “core” branches alone, growt beyond boundaries is impossible. As such, we have a *lot* of core courses to deal with, lot more than any reputed school in USA. Core Industry restriction isn’t gonna be of a good help when it comes to all round development. I am unable to find that article by Dawkins. Please send me the link if you have it.

It is an open secret that it is the parents who choose the stream of education for their children, be it engineering, medical or law. Sometimes wrong choices are made. I know students who have not been happy with engineering and have shifted over to pure science, management or even changed branches within engineering. I myself migrated from Mechanical Engineering to Computer Science. In almost every case, internships is the “new” area has helped the students. In IIT Madras itself, I have attended talks by profs who refer to other eminent prof who have explored a number of fields during their career. Their justification has simply been, “its not on my forehead that I have to be a physicist just because i have a BSc in physics”. Why is it that the same profs are trying to discourage student from venturing into new area with the core industry restriction?


Best research happens in universities or research labs, not in industries. India needs researchers. More the merrier. Research and development needs a push. It is these professors who often complain that student are not interested in research, and are attracted by fat pay packages by industries. I know a lot of students who would have done great in an industry but have chosen a research career out of sheer interest. Isn’t the new rule shunning students , who are interested in research, away from it???


What is our obsession with being totally Indian? Shashi Tharoor had asked in TOI column about the apparent insecurity in Indians to change city name from Bombay to Mumbai etc. Is the same insecurity at play here for restriction internships to Indian Industries alone? Sharing knowledge helps, even if it’s beyond political borders. There are a number of students who have had accepted journal/conf papers from interships abroad. I am sure some students whould have carried on their work from internships to final year projects. Going abroad also means brining in ideas and knowledge. It’s not a one-way traffic. I remember out professor lamenting about not having projects by B. tech. students worthy of being recognised internationally. Well, this new rule isn’t going to help that either.

The purpose of an educational institute, roughly speaking, like IITs is to make a contribution in technology to the society. This ‘society’ is not restricted to Indian society alone. Who is the best judge on how a student can make this contribution? Obviously the student himself. It must be upto the student to decide what best for him, and consequently to the society.

  1. S.Manohar
    August 25th, 2007 at 02:30
    Reply | Quote | #1

    I am with u in condemning this new rule. I really don’t know if there are enough core companies for branches like Aero, naval, BT etc. Even in elec where there are a lot of core companies India, getting good interns for the whole class in India will be a big fight. There is nothing wrong in people going out of he country, and it has been going on for a long time now. Everybody knows that no amount of restrictions/pleading will be good enough to retain those who want to go out of the country. It will be good for both the Indian cause and for the students if they are allowed to go n explore and then deceide where they want to be. Anyway most of the core companies India are branch offices of foreign companies.

    But I dont agree with u that we are obsesses with being totally Indian. Changing names, is not because we are insecure. It is important to project ourselves whereever we go as Indians and not as people who have no identity. Anyway Indians need not feel inscure at all, we have all vague hindi/gult/tam movies releasing all over the world. We have the numbers man !!!!

    The aim of IIT should be to “make a contribution in technology to the society”. So u are saying that the IIT’s are in no way bound to India ? Ofcourse not da, IIT’s are not disconnected from India. See first u say Indians are obsessed about being Indian and then u say that we should contribute to the “world-society”. Most of the Indians think like this only and I dont think that it’s such a good idea………..

  2. August 25th, 2007 at 11:14
    Reply | Quote | #2

    Now what was the motivation for such a rule in the first place? I have a feeling that administration seemed to have a feeling of not having any control over what the student do with their internship. This decision seems to be the product of a control-freak frenzy.

    Any attempt to restrict education only does more harm than good. However, I haven’t come across a single Indian school administration that give a shit about what is good for the students.

    That IITM is effectively saying is: So you want to do research? Work on theoretical concepts that underpin the fundamental solvability of currently open problems in your area? Fuck you! We wont let you do it!

    I have always maintained that I am what I am despite the education I received, not because of it!

  3. Mahesh R
    August 25th, 2007 at 17:56
    Reply | Quote | #3

    I agree. ANy rule that restricts creativity is bad. I think humans have achieved what they have because of their creativity. And for progress, its usually not ground breaking discoveries that are needed, but more of applying something we already know to someplace where it wasnt thought before. So the rule in question clearly hampers that.

    And Maggu, u r exactly what Shashi Tharoor was referring to. How does it matter if Bombay is Mumbai. You dont have to show others that you want to be Indian. What would be most important about changing name of cities for example is, do majority want it. If hey did then go ahead. Same with making Bangalore to Bengalooru. Anyway I am digressing here….

    I wont even comment on “IITians need to contribute to India” idea.

  4. S.Manohar
    August 25th, 2007 at 22:31
    Reply | Quote | #4

    Of couse not da. I have no insecurity about being an Indian (That is what Shashi Tharoor supposedly said). I feel many ppl opposed this name change just because they somehow feel compelled to prove to others and to themselves that they are somehow disconnected form the masses.

    I am not saying that IITians need to contribute to India at the cost of their career. I was just trying to make a point that the world is still a long way from the point where we can think of the whole world as one. Contributing to the “world-society” and to the India are seldom the same.
    Anyway after some point it’s a personal thing to deceide……………………

  5. August 26th, 2007 at 16:24
    Reply | Quote | #5

    Shashi Tharoor had written, “are we really insecure about our freedom from British that we have to change all the english versions of the names?” (may be verbatim) I am talking about insecurity about students forgetting about India once they land abroad for Internship or MS/PhD. Also, alumni does contribute a lot to India. With a more liberal economy since the 90s, the effects can be seen today.

    motivation??? no idea.

    i agree

  6. S.Manohar
    August 28th, 2007 at 05:32
    Reply | Quote | #6

    UPDATE :

    I recently found out what actually prompted the dean to take this decission. Apparently some chem guy had got an intern at UMich under a prof named Fogler(supposedly a very stud prof) by changing his CG to 9.8 from the actual 5.8. He made up some N credentials also. This came to light during his visa interview and then the prof also foind out. He mailed the dean( or someone else) saying how all this was spoiling the reputation of IITM and that this would hamper the chances of other IITM students from pursuing their studies abroad.

    Anyway this by no way justifies the decession. But u know the dean…….. he simply likes to ban everything.

  7. August 30th, 2007 at 09:40
    Reply | Quote | #7

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article Industry? Ridiculous!, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  8. September 1st, 2007 at 12:12
    Reply | Quote | #8

    Dawkins? lol….you are the only guy I know who could have put that one in….nice! [:)] I have a slightly different take on this issue though, one that will probably be fairly controversial, so feel free to strongly disagree. I don’t think the “contribution to Indian society” of a student has anything to do with where you do your internship, as you seem to make it sound. Secondly, again, the fact that you do your internship in “Indian industry” has nothing to do with what you do with life, which is really what counts to who you are “serving”, if such a concept exists in today’s world, which is the next point I want to make. Who defines what “Indian industry” is? Is it purely geographical? Is Shell India, for eg, “Indian”? What about those other firms who are subsidiaries of their US (or other foreign) counterparts? I guess the institute needs to come up with a good rationale not only to convince students, but also to settle this criterion. If it is geographic, then I have no idea what the intentions are. If not, then the question of the classification is important, at least in terms of having a consistent philosophy.

  9. Siddarth H.
    September 23rd, 2007 at 13:21
    Reply | Quote | #9

    A couple of points :

    Can you solve a Signal Processing problem in a couple of hours if I mail you one? Whilst the underlying mathematical tools used in solving “different” problems across disciplines may be the same, specific knowledge in a particular field is needed to identify the various trade-offs and parameters involved, and it is these which distinguish an engineering problem from a mathematical one.

    The IITs were set up with the aim of training students to solve the nation’s technological problems. As the popular joke goes, they forgot to specify which nation… Mathematics is universal; engineering is not. Every society has its unique set of engineering challenges, and I personally feel that an internship in Indian industry would sensitize us to these India-specific needs and constraints.

    P.S. Whilst this discussion assumes that students in IIT are holier-than-thou, I’d like to mention that many students here seem to have “decided” that a Euro-trip is what is best for them…

  10. Anon
    December 25th, 2007 at 23:29

    Your education at IIT is 90% funded by tax payers money. These tax payers are from India and not the ones abroad. You need to be responsive to them. A 2 month internship at Indian Industry that partly pays for your education will not hurt you all that much as you imagine. You can visit Industries abroad for internship in summer breaks other than the one required for credits. So where is the conflict?

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