·My daughter, 15 years, asks me, "You say that people study in IITs at public expense and go abroad. You say that the money spent on them by a poor country is money the country could ill afford, and replaying that with sweat and toil to the country is their primary duty. You say they default. You also studied in IISc, and then went to a village. Didnt you also waste public money."
It led to a long conversation. That sometimes one enters these places with dreams that one can work for a better, fairer country, and realizes afterwards that what one learns there is of no use as far as addressing the plight of the poorer and disadvantaged goes.
"Yes, we did. But were we to have used it by working in computer industries, we would not have helped the poorest towards any struggle for justice or a better future. The IITs and IISc are structured with a learning that cannot and will not help the poorest. We had no idea of all this when we were in our 11th and 12th."
... I do not know how much she understood, but she did understand something. And 15 years is a grown up age - it is the verge of adulthood when clarity needs to build, and the ability to take clear, hard choices has to be learnt. And that life is greys, and parents also make errors, and face them, and backtrack and correct.
(1 year later)
Narayana Sarma Gandhi was not anybody- He was the son of a (prime) minister (may be of a very small kingdom, no problem), studied and worked abroad in those days when not many Indians have even heard of those places, he moved and fitted with the richest of people in India, quite comfortably. Studying in IITs and IIScs and working in big places tends to give one such an aura of intelligence, power and stuff; which may be useful in pushing the points that- are, well, totally unconnected to engineering, but still- you want to make. It is basically like Gandhi telling people about weaving, when any ordinary weaver is actually better at weaving than Gandhi. .. Or Abdul Kalam talking about children.. : I like to classify this essentially as 'politics of engagement' - It actually IS untruth and wrong in principle; but some people may like to use it to advantage. I don't do that, could be my problem- it could be just that I have problem in using that particular tag. // The important thing that IITs teach- to those who are willing to learn- I guess is that all the Codes that we follow in life are made by 'us', and we ACTUALLY are part of those 'us'. They give you courage to feel that you are okay- that whatever you are thinking is not rubbish. Once that principle is learned, you can do anything- it is as good as IITs having taught you their bit- (and your having learned yours). Sad that other instituions in India do not leave people with such feeling. May be you should tell Turiya this- IITs are not to make engineers, they are there to teach you the best. And when you are there, you get exposed to the best, and get to take a part of it. And that part remains with you whatever you do and wherever you go. Nothing goes waste ever.