“Dear Prof. XYZ,
I am a student of IIT Kanpur which is the most
prestigious institute of the country, and one of the
best in the world. I am looking for a challenging
I have read your paper on “xxx xxx” and have
found it deeply interesting and highly innovative.
It would be a great honour for me
I am here by attaching my resume’ for your kind consideration”
Sounds familiar to anyone? Even if it doesn’t to some of you, it certainly does to about a million professors all over the globe. Its actually the latest topic of discussion and debate among the entire fraternity of professors worldwide. We have now gone truly global in every sense of the word. Well done IITKanpur. You might be thinking this is just normal routine; Third year students applying for summer internships and going abroad. However, we need go slightly deeper if we are to understand the intricacies of the whole situation. The problem has not been emerged overnight. Over the recent few years, it is a fact that there has been a gradual, but tremendous build-up of the urge to go abroad for doing internships, which has today snowballed into a desperation to flee India during the summers at any cost. As Prof. Bikramjit Basu puts it, “The faculty abroad gets the impression that the students here are just crazy to go abroad”. Now as no department other than CSE has en established IMS, this has led to thousands of e-mails being sent everyday by a thumping majority from a batch of more than 500 students for a period of more than 3 months. The already mind-boggling number has been further aided by the advent of softwares such as Atomic Mass Mailer which has caused the situation to hit the roof. The result: an unprecedented number of e-mails being sent by IIT Kanpur students for obtaining, what at the end of the day is just a 3 month summer internship, and not the end of life. But ironically, even that is not the problem. No professor gets irked just because students of IIT Kanpur, however large the number may be, want to work under him. That, on the contrary is a matter of privilege for the professors. What is really bothering is the fact, and this has been verified by talking to the faculty that on an average a professor abroad receives a dozen mails a day, all from IIT Kanpur students of the same department, and all with the exact same content. The notion this rightly sends out to the professor is that no thought is being given before sending these mails, thus undermining the professor and much more importantly, doing irreparable damage to the reputation of our institute. There are further anomalies as well worth mentioning. There have been several instances of emails being sent to our own faculty, many Ph.D. students and to faculty members of a department that has already taken students from IIT Kanpur. Such acts have further degraded the credibility of some of the really deserving applications. And just in case you think, the culprits here are only the third yearites, I’ve got news for you. The second year is not too far behind and if the trend continues a day might come in the next few years when the entire undergraduate community has a single-minded goal for the summers, to go foreign. Prof. PK Bhattacharya rightly argues that had summer training been so important at the end of second year, it would have been incorporated into the curriculum. Rather ironically, it must be noted that even at the end of the third year, only ME and CHE have summer training as a formal requirement. When you dish out a mail stating that you belong to the best institute of the country, shouldn’t you behave accordingly as well? However, expecting the students to place the reputation of the institute ahead of their own interests is perhaps unfortunately, asking for a bit too much.
This article was originally published in Vox Populi, April 2008