Photograph of Anil Chawla


(Tragedy of IITs)

Author - Anil Chawla

The article about IITs (Demigods and the Dark Side of Moon) generated a very lively debate with some extreme reactions. I reproduce here all the comments received without any editing. In some cases, I have added a brief introduction of the person at the end of his comment. My reply to the debate is at the end.

With Best Wishes and Regards,

Anil Chawla

May 2001

P.S. The debate has continued beyond April-May 2001. Please look at the end for the comments received later.

From: Rajesh Dixit

Dear Sir,

I agree with almost all the ideas expressed in yr article. However,I think situation is not so bad for those IITians who have chosen to settle in India. In most of jobs, IITians do outshine others though this invites stronger backlash. One has to fight back, thats part of life.

Also, I think IITs are not great because they impart excellent academic skills, but because they give chance for interaction between best brains by keeping them together for few years and in the process honing analytical, communication, problem-solving skills etc. of IITians.

With regards,

R K Dixit

Mr. Rajesh Dixit did post graduation from IIT Bombay and is currently a faculty member at Technical Teachers' Training Institute, Bhopal.

From: Kanwal Rekhi

Your comprehension of economics and the liberty is abysmal to say the least.

If Wopro, Infosys contribution to national development is nominal then I suppose it is the PSU model that you prefer. Also, should Indians not have liberty to do as they please instead of doing things that please you? You equate markets with nations and working with slavery. You prefer slavery of a brown man better than a white man?

In any case drom me from your mailing list so that I don't have to waste my time listening your diatribe.

Kanwal Rekhi

Mr. Kanwal Rekhi graduated from IIT Bombay in the late sixties and migrated to USA. He is a well known venture capitalist and President (or may be Chairman) of TiE. He has donated large sums to IIT Mumbai.


Ur critique is still too long, gave it only a quick glance. Hope grapes are not sour.


From: Rajeev Tatkar


I am amazed at your stupidity. This article certainly sounds one more exercise in of taking an insignificant sized sample and blowing conclusions out of proportion. Can I know if there is any piece of statistics available with you along with the source of such statistics to prove even one statement in the article? Prove it or eat your words.

Rajeev Tatkar

Mr. Rajeev Tatkar was my wingmate at Hostel 5, IIT Mumbai and senior to me. After graduating from IIT he did postgraduation from IIM and is currently a Management Consultant at Mumbai.

From: Wg Cdr Ravindra Parasnis

Dear Anil,


Interesting piece. Carry on the good work, but ensure that you don't get too negative along the line.


Yours sincerely,

Wg Cdr RV Parasnis


I agree with you.

It seems that you and I are two exceptions! I am from IIT 1961 batch

The problem is that highly educated people get carried away by the Non-Governance of India.

Please see my new home page, of, and comment!



From: Mariamma Varghese

THANK YOU Interesting . I have passed it on to some friends.

Thank you

From: Raj Bapna

Anil ji,

Thanks again for the interesting article. SInce I studied both at BITS and IIT, I never came across the problems you describe, but I can imagine such problems exisiting, particularly in India. Anyway, I have a very limited experience of working in India.



Mr. Raj Bapna is a well known author. After completing his post graduation at IIT, he moved to US. A few years later he moved back to India and set up Mindpower Institute, which has now more than 100 franchisees across India. Last year he moved to USA once again. His books on mindpower are a craze across the country and his books on computers are prescribed as textbooks in schools.

From: J. S. Rao

Dear Anil,

A long thought provoking article. There are so many + points with IITs, however, the dark clouds are the ones most important to look at.

I believe that IITs have gotten into a rat race of raising (or begging) money - one trying to outwit other. This has destroyed the culture of "Director" of an institute whose primary responsibility is to direct the activities, research and education. This has percolated slowly and steadily down the ranks and every faculty is now interested in getting money somehow or other, whether there is technology or not.

The worst aspect is to rent space and buildings for commercial activities, the land having been taken (or acquired) at throw away price from poor villagers for the purpose of education by the government, has now begun commercial activity. Poor fellows, they could have been crorepatis - if they had the land with them; they still live in abject poverty having received pittance from the government.

How do we explain the fact that IBM once booted out by the great Socialist George comes back into India under his very nose (he hasn't even raised a voice against it now) without even making an application to Government of India? This has happened with the help of an IIT stating that the lab is set up in IIT, when it is rented out of its space - no discussion in any body and group. I suspect something similar to what we see everyday in our corrupt walk of life that has happened in an IIT. Now the Directors are all showing how much more money they are raising and vying against each other - forgetting the basic duties.

Well so long for now.

Best wishes


Prof. JS Rao retired recently from Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Delhi. In addition to his work on vibrations (where he is a world renowned expert) he is known for his sharp views on education policy. Currently he is working as the Head of Research in a private company in South India.

From: shashikant gupta

Resp Sir,

Sadar Pranam,

Your latest article about pass outs of IITs gives a true picture of Indian Industry which is sadly very gloomy.

It is highly ironic that countries like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan can produce 'well designed products', which are able to sell in world market, while India despite having IITs could not produce world class cars or other products. The actual use of IIT pass outs is in Engineering Research and Development, where their talent should be used to design new products.But in India Research and Development Engineer is looked down, while the Production Engineer who enjoys little bit more power in organisation is able to become General Manager early as compared to Design Engineer.

Unless Power ( production department) and Money ( Marketing and Sales) are given more importance IITs can not find true place they deserve. It is in the interest of Industry as well as IIT pass out to reward R&D. When R&D engineers will be paid more as compared to marketing and production people only then Indian Industry and in turn India will be able to prosper.

Your article has reminded me of Mr. K.V.Pauly, who was only one IIT pass out in our design department at BHEL, he was from IIT Madras and his caliber and intelligence was clearly extra-ordinary. He was also very patriotic and wanted to work only for country, and never bothered about salary etc. He was five year senior to me, and worked in BHEL for about twenty years, but instead of giving him some rewards, senior engineers teamed up against him and made him outcast as a result last year he left the BHEL for some multinational. I narrated this just as a tribute to him. He used to share his agony and pain only with me.

You have not talked about IIT pass out in self employment. Your case is clear and appropriate example that it is not possible to get successful in self employment, if you are not ready to support corruption ( it is even not possible to get electric connection for industry without bribing some one). So in Indian context self-employment and entrepreneurship is also not suitable for honest IIT pass outs.

You are right that sadly there is no scope for IIT pass outs in India.

Let us hope that privatization and globalization of economy may help in near future.

Rest is fine, with the grace of God and your well wishes my studies are going on well and I hope that every thing will be fine at TTTI.

with regards and well wishes,


Shashi Kant Gupta.

Mr. Shashi Kant Gupta is a faculty member at Technical Teachers' Training Institute, Bhopal. He is currently in UK studying for his Ph.D.

From: Nirmal Joshi

Dear Mr. Chawla,

Thanks. Keep up the good work to encouraging people to think.


Nirmal Joshi


There is really nothing much to be said after reading what has been said. Just a few points.

My article is not about IITs. It is about India. It is about the way Indian society and industry treats talent and merit. We really cannot hope to progress if India continues to export its best brains and keeps importing rickshaw pullers from Bangladesh.

My comment about the contribution of software companies being nominal has enraged Mr. Kanwal Rekhi. The word nominal does mean very small but I do not intend it to mean insignificant or negligible. Yet, we must admit that the combined turnover of all software companies in India is a very small percentage of Indian GDP.

Mr. Kanwal Rekhi seems to suggest that I am anti liberty or as he says I do not understand liberty. I do not know whether I understand liberty but I am certainly not anti-liberty. However my plea is that India must create a conducive atmosphere so that its best talent can remain in India and can contribute to the progress of India and Indians rather than of the developed world and white man.

My old friend Tatkar refuses to see reality unless backed by research findings. In his system of epistemology, negative truth requires no proof but a positive statement must be backed by rigorously conducted scientific research. Personal opinions based on individual experiences do not matter and use of inductive logic is prohibited. My article is based on discussions with a number of IITians across the country. I must admit that there are no research findings to support my thesis. I leave it to the readers to decide whether they accept my methodology or want the Tatkar epistemology.

Lastly a word for Mr. Kanwal Rekhi - Dear Mr. Rekhi, I hope that you will reconsider your decision to move out of this circle of friends. We can be friends even though there might be some disagreements.

With Best Wishes and Regards,


May 2001


"Dave, Raj S." wrote:

At IITs we are all trained to be analytical and logical and to make conclusions based on data. Yet, I see no data in Mr. Anil Chawla's article to support his opinions. In short, his comments amount to nothing more than hearsay at this point.

Mr. Chawla would do all of us a great favor if he will first define an "Indian company" versus a "foreign company," and then provide us actual data for the last ten years on how many IITians

  1. Join an Indian software company
  2. Join a foreign software company
  3. Go to USA for further studies
  4. Join one of the IIM's for management studies
  5. Plan a career in academics and join for M.Tech. and later Ph.D. at IIT
  6. Join an Indian company in the field of one's specialization.

Mr. Chawla may have raised some serious issues that we need to look at as IITians, but it is not possible to address a problem if the problem is not defined with actual data explaining that there is a problem.

With best regards,

Raj Dave
IIT Kgp 1981

11 September, 2002

Dear Mr. Dave,

The biggest problem with some IITians is that they do not grow beyond solving problems in tutorials and tests. Life is not a tutorial problem where there is a "Given" with a clear target solution.

It is alright to base conclusions on the basis of data but what is one to do when adequate data is not available. Does one shut one's own eyes / ears and say that since I can only get inadequate data from my senses, I shall not look at all.

The opinions expressed in my article are based on my own experiences as well as of many of my friends who have remained in India. Incidentally, I passed out from IITB in 1981.

All the same I accept that more scientific data is needed to further strengthen conclusions arrived in the basis of subjective (and collective) experiences. IIT's and ex-IITians need to fund such research on the problems being faced by IIT products and the career paths being followed by them. It is unfortunate that no such research has been carried out. I have pointed out the need for such research even within my article.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that some IITians (especially the ones based in USA) refuse to face realities and take to criticizing methodology or even deliver a discourse on how to form opinions. Will it not be better if some of them could finance objective research on the subject and face the truth?

With Best Wishes and Regards,

Anil Chawla

12 September, 2002

Dear Anil Chawla,

It was shocking but interesting article. But why are you talking only about IITians? This is faced even by talented non-IITian with independent thinking. There is always a political group of non-working people opposing them and lodging attack so that they (talented) are bypassed and sidelined. This is tragedy of this country but is there any way out where everything runs on majority opinions?


Bhadresh Buch
16 September 2002

Dear Mr. Buch,

I talked about IITians because I am from IIT and because IITians have a holier-than-thou attitude. I agree with you completely that all talented people face problems in India. I have written two articles on the topic Indian Talent Caught in Cobwebs and Story of an NPA.

I agree again with you that over-emphasis on majority is not correct. You will find many articles dealing with this theme on the site under the section Constitution and Governance. You can also see Draft of the New Constitution of Bharat prepared by me.

With Best Wishes and Regards,

Anil Chawla
18 September 2002

For the original article "DEMIGODS AND THE DARK SIDE OF MOON", Please click here.

Please write to me your comments about the above debate.

ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a management consultant by profession.

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