An Indian Civilizational Perspective

IITs and their Grads – How have they helped India and the World!

Investment in the schools and institutions of higher learning has been one of the smartest things that India did. For many years, the graduates from these schools have been leaving Indian shores after their studies and benefiting the economies of the other countries. Or so it seemed to all. But for graduates like from the IITs, world at large was the playground!

In a new study (go to the bottom of the post for more findings), the IITians real contribution to the world economy has come out.. as well as their contribution to the Indian economy.

What is most interesting finding is that – for every rupee spent on an IIT-ian has ‘created an economic impact of Rs 50 at the global level, half of which is India’s share’.

That is significant. But its not that the IITians should stop here. They can actively engage with the society at large and mentor people.

As Nandan Nilekani, co-Chairman and co-Founder of Infosys suggested during the weekend – mentorship, creation of jobs and broader wealth creation – are some of the things that IITians could engage in.

It is true that for many decades it was pretty frustrating for the Government which had invested a lot in the IITs and saw the graduates leave the country in hordes. In fact between 1964 and 2001, 35% of graduates from the seven IITs moved to America for work or studies. In fact some studies say that in the 1980s over 80% graduates used to leave for foreign shores.

But as the economy at home started doing well, two things happened –

One, the numbers of those hopping on the plane dropped significantly – 2002 onwards, only 16% have left the Indian shores “for good”! For example in the 2006 batch only 21 out of the 3980 BTech graduates were going abroad! Only three of IIT Kanpur’s 273 BTech students and two from the five-year MSc integrated course went abroad. All the others — 267 MTech students, two-year MSc grads and MBAs — stayed back in the country. At IIT Delhi, of the approximate 1,000 job-seekers, only one student went abroad to join CapitalOne, a financial consulting firm.

So much has changed then from the classic IIT route was a BTech from IIT, an MS (Masters) from USA and a dollar job.

Two, a lot of those who left are returning back home.

There was a time when even the World Bank was worried with the Brain Drain from the IITs and had suggested an exit tax which according to its calculations could earn the Indian treasury some $1 billion a year. Today of course, that revenue stream would have gone dry!

The contributions of the IITians is not restricted to the economy as a whole, but they are giving back to their alma mater as well. A few years back, just two IITians (Kanwal Rekhi and Nandan Nilekani) contributed over Rs 15 crores for IIT Powai while the Government grant was Rs 28 crores!

Thus, the contributions and success of the IITs and its graduates needs to be properly appreciated. It is important to remember that old adage – “What goes around, Comes around”. In IITs and India’s case that has definitely worked!

Reference links:
1. Why IIT Grads are returning home?
2. Every IITian has created 100 jobs
3. Play active role in building society, IITians told
4. For IITians today, home is where the moolah is
5. IIT alumni balances brain drain with cheques

Other Findings
Some other findings of the Pan-IIT study “IIT Alumni Impact Study 2008”.

– IIT-ians have been involved in the creation of over 2 crore (20 million) new jobs.
– The IITs have graduated about 200,000 students from the seven campuses since 1954 (including Roorkee before it became a full-fledged IIT). Of these, 40 per cent were from undergraduate programmes and 60 per cent from graduate programmes.
– The survey says that IIT alumni in senior positions in industry and government, across the world today, have a budgetary responsibility for over $885 billion (Rs 40,00,000 crore).
– When measured across industry, government, entrepreneurial activity and scientific/technological innovations, IIT alumni have been associated with over $450 billion (Rs 20,00,000 crore) of incremental economic value creation.
– Of the IIT alumni who graduated prior to 2001, 40 per cent are in top leadership roles in corporations, educational institutions, research labs, NGOs, governmental agencies, politics, and as entrepreneurial heads of their own companies. A majority of these top leaders believe they have contributed most through their personal impact on innovation relating to product, process, services, etc.
– Among the IIT alumni who are in top leadership roles, almost 70 per cent are currently based in India, with 20 per cent of these being those who come back to India after careers in other parts of the world.
– The study says that 54 per cent of the top 500 Indian companies currently have at least one IIT alumnus on their board of directors, and these companies have cumulative revenue ten times greater than that of other companies on the list.
– Twenty per cent of the IIT alumni work in research & education. About 75-80 per cent of IIT alumni in research & education continue to work in science and technology related areas. Half of the IIT alumni in research & education are based in India, and of these 40 per cent those who returned to India after careers abroad.
– Ten per cent IIT alumni are currently engaged in social transformation working in NGOs, government administration or politics, on programs relating to education, the environment, or poverty reduction, etc. IIT alumni working in this area have founded over a 1,000 NGOs, the survey adds.
– One in 10 IIT alumni has started their own companies, with over 40 per cent of them being serial entrepreneurs. Two-thirds of the companies founded are in India.

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