The Awkward Elitism of Academic Institutions

This is a topic which I have touched up on in my earlier posts as education and its dispensation, is something I feel passionately about, as The Rise of  Branded Elitist Institutions all over the World, are the new citadels of clergy as in the middle ages. Whether these are the Ecole Grandes in France or ITB in Indonesia,  Education is increasingly more about a passport to prosperity and upward social mobility rather than learning and empowerment of the mind. The recent debate sparked off by the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, IITB and CMU/MIT Alumni, about the reason why the IIT’s and the IIM’s are not producing world class research and the value is only due to the exceptional caliber of the human potential.  Educational Institutions are in the end analysis nothing but elite clubs of limited access to cultural and social capital as emphasized by Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and Harvard Don Robert Putnam.  They are about personal branding and private networks ultimately and not about knowledge accumulation and reproduction for enhancement of the cause of humanity.

The prep coaching industry for the IIT’s, IIM’s and Med School’s in Kota and Hyderabad are insane, the monetization of cultural capital is complete. Cultural Capital is translated into Symbolic Capital and Power later on in life. Preparation for IIT exams begin in the early teens, as if that the IIT exam is the pinnacle of achievement. Or the Liberal Arts equivalent of St. Stephens, St. Xaviers and Loyola is the stuff which dreams are made of.  The myth of the IIT/IIM passout has reached new heights post liberalization and has reach the zenith symbolism of a myth. The enorminty of the Chinese university entrance exam of the Gao Kao is equally maddening.

The whole dimension that a person is a failure if a person is not bright enough to make it to the elite schools like Oxbridge, Ivy League or the IIT-IIM phenomena in India is mis-informed. Success is not assured if a person, makes it to these institutions, life is a cross country race and not a 100m dash. There are things in life people do which make them great, even if they do not make to these elite schools. Human Potential is more than a Brand. The greatest of Artists, Musicians, Writers and Entrepreneurs were not Ivy-Retarded and write did not to enshrine their names in the annals of History. Let the Rat Race be confined to the Rats and not infect the Homo Sapien species.

2 thoughts on “The Awkward Elitism of Academic Institutions

  1. Well said. However, this elitist behavior in itself also sparks the idea of ‘protecting your own’ which often is the real reason why corruption and high handedness is often allowed to get away in various countries.

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