Disclaimer: I do not have anything personal against IITians, in case you are one, then I am not judging YOU, do not take this personally. This is certainly not an IIT bashing post, but I prefer to think of it as a call to action. In case you have some clout in those areas, please think this through and do correct me if I am passing assessment based on the wrong sample set.
In the last couple of years, I have had both the fortune and misfortune of knowing IITians. Fortune because these people have raw brain power … the CAT although is the most competitive exam, but the IIT-JEE is the real test of thinking and application. Anyone who has cracked the JEE on his own merit, is definitely intelligent (although I can’t make such claims for all the people who have cleared the CAT ;-)).
The national institutes (IITs and the IIMs) are a haven of variety, and were created to be an incubation center of the nations next generation of talent. Due to it’s separation from the surrounding environment, and policies … these institutes have also become an eco-system having their own flavor.
Yes, talent is nurtured and given guidance. Some of them do great things … but do they teach things like Ethics in such places? I doubt it.
Of all the IITians I have met in the past (and there’s a lot of them), all of them have indulged in unethical behavior. From simple copying someone else’s notes, to downright corporate espionage. From avoiding taxes to downright embezzlement. From speaking a harmless lie to generate some laughter to downright filing a wrong criminal case.
It’s not a one off case that I am citing here, its 7-8 different people of different ages and in different circumstances. There is absolutely no qualm for breaking the law, or what’s ethically right. Perhaps its ignorance, but it could also be indifference.
You may say that they have their own set of moral code, but that code seems to be based on the premise of individual superiority over the rest. Which seems logical since they have been hearing the same thing over and over again – a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. I am not the moral police, but a basic level of ethics needs to be inculcated into the raw talent of the country.
They should follow the Spiderman quote –
With great power comes great responsibility.
4 thoughts on “A Question of Ethics”
Of all the IITans I’ve encountered so far, 100% were plain idiots with almost zero common sense. Example?
Mood Indigo organizers invited me to judge their new personality contest. All the talks were done through phone and email. Then I got busy with my schedule thinking organizers will manage everything (my travel, stay, food etc.) So just a day before the ‘D-Day’, the organizer calls me up to ask “Where should we pick you up, sir?”. I said, I haven’t received my air-tickets so far.
The organizers were ‘shocked’ and told me that they thought I’m based out of ‘Mumbai’. So, all the time they assumed that I was operating out of Mumbai and would be available on the d-day. No one even bothered to confirm!
I think its the same attitude of taking things for granted because you are amongst the top technical colleges in the world
The logic of ethics applies to the civilized part of the world and this has been true since ages. In modern times, we mistake educated with civilized while this was a fact in the earlier centuries.
The logic of ethics discussed thus cannot be singularly applied to the IITians or the IIM grads. To get the facts right, you just need to stand at any red signal and you would see the fact that its the educated who break the signals. I have seen numerous educated travelling by train without tickets. Its the educated who indulge in the corruption.
Moral is too simple – either we take away education from the society (which is supposedly the basis of ethics but doesn’t seem to exist anymore) or the subject of ethics be ingrained into our teaching methodology very deeply.
Manish, you have rightly said that it has to be ingrained in the upbringing and our basic teaching methodology. However, the point of this post is that people in powerful positions should behave responsibly, and I have seen many people take the easier way out because they can. The quote from the movie Spiderman is what I meant to say in a gist :)