Monday, December 19, 2011

Hotel IIT

Read the following story of a restaurant and the mentalities of some of its customers.

Take a classy Mexican themed restaurant in a 5-star hotel. The restaurant is a top-notch one and not all can afford to enter it. Not only are the ones who come out of the restaurant after finishing dinner held in awe by the outsiders, but since they are privileged customers and since the restaurant is in its heyday, it also almost always offers a (grand) car waiting to take them away on a very long ride. 

Consider the following groups of people who get into such a restaurant. 

Group 1 
They have come only for the good Mexican food and aren’t bothered too much by the grand car waiting outside. They are epicureans and hence engage in the waiter in a good conversation about Mexican food. They eat, pay the bill and leave satisfied. The waiter bids them a cheerful goodbye as they leave. They even drop in suggestions on improving the quality of the food/service. Some enjoy the car ride though most ditch the car and go to another place in search of more good food. 

Group 2
They have come mainly for the car/social status offered to people walking out after eating at this place. Hence they do not bother too much about what they order. The waiter hints at them to appreciate the subtleties in flavours of the day’s special fajitas. Some of them get interested in discussing good Mexican food and join the Group 1 table. Among the rest, some are also Mexican food aficionados, but they are more interested in the luxurious car waiting outside. Some are interested in Thai food more, but are willing to eat and pay for Mexican nonetheless. 
"Fair enough, I don't care what you do with the food as long as you pay the bill", says the waiter and brings food accordingly. They pay off the bill and bask in glory after walking outside. The waiter bids them a cheerful goodbye as the leave. Some of them, not liking Mexican food, go to Thai restaurants in the future. Some of them end up in a top-notch car like a Lamborghini or a Porsche and acquire high respect in society. Some of them get bored of the car and go to another restaurant to savour more Mexican food later. Some even build their own cars. 

Group 3
After ordering, this group realises that Mexican food does not suit their palate and hence do not eat most of the food. They have enough money, but do not want to pay the total cost and want to pay only about 10% of the bill. However, they still want to exit the restaurant in all elegance. So they try and make flimsy excuses: 
  • We ‘don’t like Mexican food’ or ‘don’t want to eat Mexican food’
  • We ‘like Thai food more’ because it is so much more fulfilling
  • The ambience is bad 
  • We came here just because our parents asked us to
  • We have come only for the car and now that there is already a grand car waiting outside to take us away, there is no motivation left to pay the bill
Now suppose the waiter gets pissed and says:
“I don’t care about what you like or don’t like. I don’t care if the ambience is bad. I don’t care why you are here or what you will do after leaving this place. If you felt Thai food is more awesome, you could have walked out without ordering any Mexican and gone to a Thai restaurant. Or you could have done like some Group 2 Thai food enthusiasts who paid for Mexican nonetheless. I know for sure that efforts have been taken in delivering you quality Mexican food and to must respect those efforts, you must pay for what you have ordered”. 
Then the waiter is considered a ‘painu’ waiter. He is hated by all these Group 3 members. 

And the group 3 guys apparently think that trying to use their ‘persuasion skills’ and striking a bargain with the waiter to pay about 30% of their bill is ethical. Little do they realize that it’s the hotel that is taking the hit if they do so. Little do they realize that if a ‘peace’ waiter agrees for the bargain, he is agreeing only because he is sick of similar attitudes of many before. Little do they realize that if everyone keeps doing what they do, the hotel will shut down someday. 

(By this time you must have realized what I mean by the title. If not, then see the list of comparisons which I have put in the comments)

Moral of the story: 
Whether you take a job or go for an MBA or a PhD, do what you choose to do. I see no problems with doing a career in research, engineering, consulting, finance, IT, football, bollywood or contemporary art after getting an IIT degree. But while you are in IIT, be worthy of your degree.
How does one expect to be worthy of a ‘Master of Technology’ by putting in about 2 month’s work when one is expected a full year’s effort into one's final year project? The way most people excel in courses (cracking the endsem after a niteout) is not the way to excel in research (which I feel requires consistent and directed efforts). Come final year and placements and everyone is highly 'professional' in everything. Then why not be 'professional' about one's degree?
Respect the quality of your degree. If that can’t be done, don’t take what you don’t effing deserve.

I don’t get why the quality of research in final year projects isn’t enforced by the higher command. Quality in courses is enforced by failing people not upto the mark. Why not do the same for final year projects? Agreed, projects are on a one-to-one-basis and cannot be graded relatively as courses. Not that all projects are unworthy (some are pretty good quality), but there is a lot of scope for improvement. Then why not officially set objectives, evaluation criteria, deadlines and have regular appraisals to ensure progress? Or are efficiency and professionalism too much to ask for? 

Update: Many departments have scrapped the Dual Degrees or at least made them optional. I feel making the Dual Degree optional is a very good idea. While the extra degree offers a definite advantage in terms of core jobs, people who are interested can go for a Masters' degree and those who do not want to continue further can get out with a vanilla B. Tech. and a chocolaty job.


  1. List of comparisons:

    Hotel = IIT
    Diners = Students (Group 3 = most final year guys)
    Mexican food = Engineering/Research
    Thai food = Anything Non Engineering
    Social glory/ Grand car = High paying job (High is a relative term mind you)
    Waiter = Prof (Sorry! No offence/sarcasm intended)
    Pay the bill for food = Put in efforts/time into your education/research

  2. I am in Group 3. I came because you the Hotel advertised on TV, and everybody seemed to think Mexican food was the new in thing. They told me about the tacos and the tortillas. I come here, and I only get served refried beans. "What about all the tortillas and tacos?" I asked the waiter. "Eat those refried beans", he said. "And eat them quickly, before the others, because the cars outside operate on first-come-first served".

    They lied to me. They misrepresented themselves, and I hate them for it. Now unless I fall in line with their sham, I am an outcast, a failure, and something to be mocked. To hell with them and their hypocrisy. To hell with you.

  3. @^: Then run away from the hotel. You don't need to exit from the front door in all glory. Say iQuit. Like quitting a crappy job.

    Even Steve Jobs and Bill Gates dropped out of college as they didn't like it in college.

    And dont take TV advertisements too seriously :)

  4. I agree with anonymous. @Ojas, join a low paying tech job which offers refried beans and then tell me what you think. Ideally, go to the Mexican restaurant for the experience, and the babes (though the babes are there only for 4 days a year) and then go enjoy Thai food.

  5. @Ojas: Why should I go away? So you can have your pretty little world cleansed of aberrations like me? Ever occurred to you that Hitler thought the same way on genetics?

  6. @^: What happens to people in a corporate job who don't work? Do you see the company keeping them? This is the basic tenet of capitalism. Obviously no one's taking capitalism to a life threatening extreme(as Hitler did). You can find much better job satisfaction if you drop out from here and pursue what you love.

    This is why I feel especially this Dual Degree business should be scrapped off (or atleast made optional). People (like Anonymous) with no interests are forced to do what they don't want to. IITB CSE, Civil and Aero departments have scrapped their DD programs not without reason.

  7. Blame the other anonymous! I'm the good guy! :P

    Anyways, OP,chill maar. People have a right to do what they want. It really doesn't matter whether that person completes the DD with spectacular results or scrapes off being a parasite of resources - Bahut kuch waste hota hai duniya mein, and an IIT seat is the least of anyone's worries. The Indian industry is very happy to take matke over UGs, there are not good enough jobs for the really good ones. What's the harm in letting the poor guy get 2 degrees from IIT?

  8. "An IIT seat is the least of anyone's worries" - Could you reflect more on this statement?