At Least Privatize IIT Kanpur

by Ramesh Mahadevan

What a great idea ! Privatizing the IITs. Why not ? The government will be able to get rid of this white elephant, (with due apologies to elephants) and can actually redirect the money saved toward more productive and welfare-oriented programs, such as implementing the use of hindi/tamil numerals in high school algebra or erecting statues for every politician that ran our country.

Seriously folks, someone in Delhi actually listened to the bboard suggestion and during one of the National Front in-fighting sequence, somebody actually slipped a legislation to privatize the IITs. Some members were horrified at the thought and so they decided to do it step by step - privatize the least productive and most boring IIT first and see how it worked. That's how IIT Kanpur went private.

A NRI group purchased IIT Kanpur for an undisclosed amount, a sum which was still smaller than what they pay the basketball players. They promptly renamed the premier institution as Indian Institute of Software Technology to reflect what it actually does for most parts. It was estimated that by the year 2010 AD, the entire population of India will be writing software for Indian and American companies. This NRI group had a tie-in with several corporations and universities in the US to supply the brains (unfortunately with the bodies as well) that are always in demand. This same NRI group was also going to build the Indian Disneyland.

JEE entrance exams were substituted by Advanced SAT exams and the Agarwal and Brilliant Tutorials ran special coaching classes. The exam was administered only in English and Bhojpuri. The english too was more American than British; for example the application form asked if the candidate was a 'dude' or a 'babe'. Rich kids with even richer parents who could show a proof of possessing $ 100000.00 only were considered and not surprisingly, this did not affect the usual bunch of people who would apply anyways. This was waived for most students since the NRI group would get a hefty commission for placing the students in the USA and that would more than compensate for the expenses involved in running a behemoth like IIT Kanpur.

IIT Kanpur, like any other coroporate entity, was administered by a new management, with MBA types running the administrative building instead of Bhaiya Lals and Munna Lals. The new style of management could be evidenced from the way these 'Financial Assistants' would say 'Have a nice day' after collecting the $ 4000.00 per semester fee.

Several infrastructural changes were implemented. The food service improved greatly. Rajhma was banned from the menu. The green slimy daal Mughalai, Louki sambhar and tinda subji were removed. Hamburgers and pizzas were introduced. Women hostesses instead of thug looking, insubordinate mess servants were employed. The traditional 'night milk saaab' cries were replaced by a town crier shouting 'Night cap saaab'. The canteens gave way to trendy pubs where ideas and home assignment solutions were exchanged. The all purpose departmental store run by the Mahir mafia family was finally closed shut, replaced by a Seven Eleven store. The two or three paan shops were replaced by paan vending machines. The State Bank of India, IITK branch, which has hitherto been untouched by the modern electronic banking techniques and which was closed down for three hours in the afternoon everyday for the workers to take a nap, was also gone.

Stray dogs which used to migrate from the Kanpur city toward IIT in search of plentyful food and wayward monkeys which used to have sex outside classrooms on hot afternoons, were dealt with severly. But they had to stop this cruel act because they couldn't tell the students apart from these creatures. NCC and NSS were wiped out, although the students could join the Peace Corps and RCA music club. The Student Films Society was one thing that even the powerful corporation could not clean up and they still kept showing the eighteenth century movies to huge crowds of students.

The NRI group was going to build a huge wall around the campus with moats and control towers, but then they realized that there exists a great insulating wall between the IITs and the rest of India, anyway. Cultural festivals were replaced by Software workshops. Dress codes were introduced. Anybody wandering into the mess hall in underwear, which used to be the norm earlier on, were summarily punished. Three pieces and earrings were 'in' and brief cases replaced the jholas. Professors were brought from all over the world and were paid for in dollars and with the promise that the students wouldn't be allowed to ask any questions to which they don't know the answer. The students competed fiercely with each other as always, breaking into each other's codes and not telling their real GPA to their friends. The good students were rewarded with positive reinforcements such as hot water during winter and preferential seating in the mess hall. The bad students were simply laid off. Students wasting time and resources on useless activities like studying Indian history or philosophy or music or social problems in their spare microseconds were promptly chastized and sent to one week reeducation camps dubbed 'Know your parent corporation'.

The NRI group came upon an interesting idea to increase the productivity of its students. They established an all female Fine Arts College on campus to inspire the students. The female Fine Arts students were admitted only after a strict physical examination. They even had cheerleaders to egg on the IITians during some crucial final exams. Healthy interaction between the sexes took place between quizzes, all around in the picturesque campus by the Ganges. Nearby idyllic villages of Kalyanpur and Nankari proved to be the settings for some teenage romances. At last, the ghazwalis (women who cut grass) from the nearby villages were able to do their job in peace without being harassed by the IIT students.

Those of you who attended IIT Kanpur know that the IIT is the number one tourist spot in Kanpur. The parent corporation was aware of this and quickly cashed in on this. Flashy tourist brochures were issued touting it as Kanpur's vacation paradise. Tourists could actually spend a week there and visit the computer center and the labs, the Fantasyland and the Monkey Jungle. They could hobnob with the Assistant professors and feast in the gourmet mess kitchens. IIT Kanpur was well known for its night life and nightspots like the library got a face lift to tap those extra tourist dollars.

The impact of the new, privately managed IIT on India was tremendous. Everyone was happy. The Indian government never heard the complaint about breeding elitism and even Devi Lal could not accuse it of promoting urbanism using government money. In fact, the tax revenue generated from the NRI run IIT was so large that they were thinking of privatizing other IITs and to make them 'Export Only'. The corporation that was running the IIT was obviously quite happy and was already negotiating with the USSR in their privatization of Moscow University. The earnings after taxes were growing so fast that they established a permanent Mochi (cobbler) shop for Gangu Mochi under his tree. The professors were happy, the dry cleaners were happy, SCI was happy and Joachim Martillo was happy. And the students, of course, were the happiest of all, envy of the world, apples of the eye. Some of them were even featured on a TV ad, with jingles like 'IIT Kanpur, good to the last dropout'.

Copyright(R) Mahadevan Ramesh