Education in India – Part 3

One other thing I want to draw from a recent friendly discussion is the notion of examination in India. People seem to find the hard exams useful and the relatively easy ones as useless. People seem to look down upon the AIEEE exam, saying that its too easy compared to IITJEE, so IITJEE is a real exam. Its true that looking from the general mentality of the people, most of whom want to go to the IITs, IITJEE is the real prize and they consider AIEEE only as a consolation for missing out on IITJEE. Its a sad situation in India, but not necessarily beyond repair. They are now talking about a joint exam for all government colleges in India, with it being an option for private institutions, and doing away with IITJEE and AIEEE completely. That is a fantastic idea and I think that it should be implemented right away. Public services is a big thing in India, with high flying students from all over the country wanting to get into the IAS. UPSC is one of the most coveted exams in India. I frankly admit that I do not know much about it, most of my knowledge comes from my recent discussion with some of my friends wanting to appear for the UPSC exam.

IAS requires administrative understanding and skill. I asked them why do they ask questions about history and geography in the exam then? why not ask questions that test decision taking skills, such as case studies? My point was that if you are looking to design an exam ( lets say analogous to a filter ), intended to filter out the ones most able for administrative services, then why not test the skills that are going to be required in the job? I asked a simple question, Can a successful administrator of lets say a successful company, if he so desires, clear the exam? The answer was a resounding NO!!! They said that unless he specifically prepared for the exam there’s no way he can clear the exam. In India “preparation” for an exam is no less than a highly respected skill. But why does a man who has proven his abilities in administration need to learn all other subjects, when he is a master of the very skill that is required. They said that he needs to know a place’s history to make a sound decisions about that place. That’s true in a diverse country like India. But learning about the history of a specific place doesn’t take much effort and he is surely not going to be administering entire India ( that’s part of politics, not administrative services ), then why learn about all history? Its like saying you need to learn physics if you want to learn biology. Its true that physical laws govern all events, including those covered by biology, but you don’t really need to be a MASTER of physics to learn biology. But you do need to be more or less a master of history, civics, geography, GK, and others if you want to clear the IAS exam. That’s pure wastage of time, energy and abilities.

I was told why this was so. They said that there are so many able students, the ONLY way was to make the exam so tough that only a few could clear. Then they could be asked about administrative skills in the interview. But that way aren’t you removing a considerable portion of people who deserve to prove their administrative skills? Sadly in India its about “Jack of all trades, Master of none”. There are no specialists in India. Everybody can do something else. (Can you say why? read my previous post on Indian education, the answer is BACK-UP s) Its as if the exam is not about selecting the best administrator, but more about removing as many as possible in order to have a sizable group to select from. That’s not a bad idea, but the selection criteria should be about selecting the ones with the BEST skills not the ones with MOST skills.

No doubt, the ones that do get selected are very intelligent students, but it leaves me wondering that may be, just may be, the ones that do not make it ( atleast some of them ) are more capable then the ones that do make it. As an exam then I believe the IAS exams are a failure. If your filter cannot filter out all of the best then its not a good filter ( not necessarily completely bad, but not very good either ). But I know Indians are very happy with the format, they will say, we are getting some right ones, so its alright. Sure, that’s acceptable for some time, but we should be constantly looking for better options. But as far as I know no one is considering about a change, either now or even the far off future, and THAT IS WRONG. Like I have said previously, Indians are happy with mediocrity, they lack the very imagination that can make the country GREAT.

It is not the ABILITY that makes things happen, but its the DESIRE to make them happen, that has the power to change all. We all should desire, that we all can gain that ability someday.

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