IIT Delhi | Photo: Commons
IIT Delhi | Photo: Commons
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New Delhi: Over 2,400 students have dropped out from the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the last two years, with over half of them belonging to the general category. These dropouts are both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

According to data shared by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in Parliament last week, as many as 2,461 students dropped out of various IITs across the country, of whom 1,290 belong to the general category. The remaining 1,171 students are from the SC, ST and OBC categories.

Most of the dropouts have occurred in the older IITs — Delhi tops the list with 782 dropouts, followed by 622 in Kharagpur, 263 in Bombay, 190 in Kanpur and 128 in Madras.

The institutes on an average admit 9,000 students annually in undergraduate and 8,000 students in postgraduate courses.

While experts blame pressure, caste discrimination and postgraduate students taking up jobs as the reasons, the ministry told Parliament that it has taken the dropouts seriously and advised the institutions to take various corrective measures to improve the situation.

According to the ministry, the institutes have appointed advisers to monitor the academic progress of students, created a provision of additional classes for academically weaker students and provided counselling on family and personal issues.

The attrition rate, however, has shocked some IIT faculty members.

“I am shocked to see the huge dropout number but as far as I can understand the data, it is because of the M.Tech students who drop out after getting a job in a PSU where hiring typically happens in July,” said professor Dheeraj Sanghi who taught at IIT Kanpur.

“We have even requested the government to push the PSUs to hire in June so that we don’t have to deal with empty classrooms. On some occasions, we have even faced 60 students dropping out from an M.Tech batch of 80 and then we are forced to run the programme with just 20 students.”

IIT Delhi director V. Ramagopal Rao echoed his views but added that at the undergraduate level, most student quit as they can’t cope with the pressure of the curriculum. 

“Attrition rates are higher at the M.Tech level because students leave for PSU jobs. Even the ministry is aware about PSUs hiring students after their course begins and we have taken it up with the PSUs but they don’t seem to come on board,” Rao told ThePrint.

“At the B.Tech level, students who drop out are mostly the ones who are not able to cope with the study pressure, many come from Hindi medium as well and have difficulties adjusting.”

Another faculty member at IIT Delhi, who wished to remain anonymous, said that most of the students who drop out at the undergraduate level are from the reserved category who are unable to keep up with the demands of the course. 


Also read: IITs get new brief from Modi govt — work on indigenous defence technology


‘Caste-discrimination another reason’

Although more general category students have dropped out, the number of reserved students dropping out is higher in terms of proportion. Activists blame this on caste being a factor at these premier institutions, especially in the older IITs.

“The caste-based oppression in IITs is not direct but systematic,” Anoop Kumar, a documentary filmmaker, told ThePrint. “Most of the students who come to IITs under the reserved category are from non-English medium backgrounds and institutions do not make sure that the transition happens. There is no dearth of merit with these students but there is a problem with the language because of which students have to face difficulties.”

Kumar’s documentary, ‘Death of Merit’, is a three-part series with testimonies of families of students who committed suicide allegedly due to caste discrimination at these institutes.

Harvard scholar and Dalit rights activist Suraj Yengde, who has authored the book Caste Matters, also agrees with Kumar on caste-based discrimination in IITs.

“These institutes do not cater to the needs of people from reserved categories because they are occupied by people at the administration level and at faculty by people from the higher castes,” he said. “These Brahmanical professors are not used to socialising with marginalised people and when they have to, it becomes problematic.”

Naveen Kumar, an alumnus of IIT Delhi who has now formed a political party — Bahujan Azad Party — to work for reserved category students, also echoed their views.

“When I was a student, someone had written — ‘SCs, STs, not allowed here’ outside a person’s hostel room,” he said. “He went to complain to the dean but his complaint was not taken very seriously. I remember another incident where a professor rejected a girl from taking his course just on the basis of her name as she belonged to the reserved category.”

An IIT professor who has managed the IIT-JEE admissions and has been teaching at one of the institutes since 2003, however, disagreed.

“More than 2,400 students dropping out of IITs is a huge and unbelievable number, given the number of applications that we get each year,” he said. “But what is more unbelievable that there could be a caste angle to the dropouts. I do not feel that there is any kind of caste discrimination in IITs.”

The professor, though, said that reserved category students generally find it difficult to cope up with the pressure of studies once they enter the IIT system. “When students from reserved category get admission in IITs, the merit is lowered for them and sometimes we are even asked to take students who have not made the cut,” he added. “But once they enter the system, they have to face the real pressure and many are then not able to cope with it.”


Also read: The IITs have a long history of systematically othering Dalit students


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41 COMMENTS

  1. There is an old story about a bull and a pheasant. The moral of the story was “bullshit can take you to the top, but it cannot keep you there.”
    These individuals got into the IITs on reservations but they don’t have the technical know-how to survive the institution. Then they blame things like discrimination.

    • a person who doesn’t understand meaning of 1/2 should refrain on commenting on anything … let me help you understanding what 1/2 means … if 1/2 belongs to reserved category this means 1/2 belonged to general category …

  2. I have studied at four top universities in three large democracies. GLOBALLY RESPECTED UNIVERSITIES DO NOT LOWER THEIR STANDARDS. IF THEY DO, THEY WILL LOSE RESPECT. IITs should not lower standards. There should be no reservation. IITs may lose global respect if standards are lowered.

    I graduated with B. Tech. from IIT Bombay. I survived (often topped some courses) and financed my global education everywhere due to strong skills in mathematics. Now, I am writing books that involve mathematics. My books are intended to motivate students and help them master topics discussed,

    First few semesters at IITs, I believe, are common to all Engineering students. Most of the dropouts, I believe, occur in the first year.,
    If students have strong background in Mathematics (irrespective of their mother tongue or medium in which they studied before joining IITs), there will be fewer dropouts.

    Caste shuld not be an issue. Respectable universities in rest of the world will not admit students based on caste. My gutfeel is if background in mathematics is strengthened, number of dropouts will decrease.

  3. Most PG students join IITs to get stipend while they are waiting for their jobs to start in PSUs and other private companies. Don’t blame everything and anything on caste system and governments. Nobody forces anyone to dropout they do it by their choice. Also, please stop playing minority or dalit or victim card to hide your mistakes which made your life miserable and don’t mix everything with the politics. Nobody in IITs care for your caste.

  4. Yeah right when these foolish,useless undeserving idiots take away the seat of a deserving general candidate the we shouldn’t feel bad but when a person actually says the truth about these foolish,useless undeserving idiots then the feel bad and creat a whole lot of Neusiance. These people are a burden for our COUNTRY!!

    • I understand your frustration but first learn to treat everybody as a human being and learn to be gentle when you speak. We need to first learn to respect each other

      • Oh, Ms. Anitha , I am extremely sorry for saying the truth. You are rigth, we should actually let these illiterate peoples to decide our country’s future.

        • a person who doesn’t understand meaning of 1/2 should refrain on commenting on anything … let me help you understanding what 1/2 means … if 1/2 belongs to reserved category this means 1/2 belonged to general category …

  5. In a fiercely competitive exam like the JEE for admission into the IITs the cutoff marks vary so abnormally for different reserved categories compared to that of the unreserved category, the basic quality of the students vary unimaginably!
    Lowest cutoff marks for every admission tests in INDIA should be fixed at a minimum required level, so that anyone below that level can never get into the prestigious instititutes claiming to belong to some specific caste or religion!

  6. I think the reason for drop out Will be because of rural & Hindi background, which could be managed through counseling & with English classes. But as far as reservation & iq level of student is concerned,there is no relationship. Apart from this the 20 percent population occupied 80% of countries resources & getting 10% fixed & 40% floating reservation. With changing social scenario
    Where everyone is rising, don’t blame reservation for all the problems.

  7. I am a graduate and a post graduate from IIT and this post is really biased. Lets do some maths , out of the hundred students who join IITs 52.5 come from sc/St/obc and pd categories , now out of the rest 47.5 percent there are sc/st/obc who qualify in general merit , so out of 100 students who study in IIT 40 are from general category , but 52.5 out of 100 drop outs are from general category, thus the drop out rates are much higher in general students. I don’t know why this post is highlighted just the opposite thing to show dalit discrimination in IIT.
    Second thing , on what basis he is saying that category students are more likely to be from hindi background , does he have any data ? Or how can he say that language posses such difficulty? Extremely baseless and spreading false narratives is what this article is all about

  8. I am shocked by the comments which have just abused the lower caste students. I am an IIT graduate and I have seen the acts with which lower caste students are welcomed. People don’t appreciate their hard work. Do you even know how difficult it is to give such a tough paper and how difficult it is for them to cope up with the language transition. This is the true story of IITs. I have seen it.

    • Yes ma’am I agree with the fact that every student has to do hard work to get into IITs irrespective of their categories , but i can’t digest the fact that this article chose to hide the larger drop out rate of the general category student , language transition is not easy but it is wrong to assume that only category student have this difficulty ,
      Lastly I don’t know which IIT you were in and which year you studied there , but you will be glad to know that here at IIT Delhi I never saw any discrimination towards category students by the system or students , although they faced some difficulty to cope up with the academic system , but that was not due to any systemic discrimination

  9. There’s no discrimination when you give reservation and then blame the general category if the students are not competent.
    Low rank student get into higher ranked courses on basis of reservation not ability. It seem not surprising if he fails to keep up with the race. I agree with Abhinav Rai Sir in this aspect.

  10. Who the foolish is the editor of this report everyone knows that 50 percent seats in iits are reserved for the sc st and obc …….and you are talking about the caste discrimination for them and what about the 50% unreserved they dropout bcoz they are unable to cop up the studies really yaar kya mazzakkar rahe ho

  11. Finding cast in everything and in this issue is just as shameful as can be. the author and this media feels like every professor in iit is biased and that he is bhramin. Shit…

  12. The problem with the SC/ST/OBC is that we want to be treated equal
    but we want benefit when its our chance
    Lets be rational
    Govt should give free education till Phd but no reservation
    when same school all get same teacher free education lets compete
    Why reservation in promotion

  13. The headline itself sounds discriminating. There are fewer seats for category people and I think half of the count which has dropped out is together of all the categories. And rest half is of general. So I think everything is clear. Start writing something optimistic and stop giving caste angle to everything just because you are an editor.

  14. I guess you don’t need an extraordinary brain to digest the fact that IITs have 49% caste based reservation in admissions, which is proportionately reflected in the data of drop outs as well.

  15. Editorial review hota hai Print me ?
    Kuch to standard maintain karo behen. Agenda pahle decide, uske around kuch bhi likh dena jaroori hai kya ?

  16. So called news with mischievous headline and mischievous content to create disharmony in society. Less than half of drop outs from RC and could be because of caste discrimination. What about the more than 50% of GC who also drop out? They also could be subject to “caste discrimination”. This so-called news item violates 153A. Fit case to put the author and management of the Print in Jail

  17. 49.5% seats are reserved for SC, ST or OBC. So logically if half of the dropouts belong to these categories. What’s the issue about it. Don’t make this issue related to discrimination or something else.
    Don’t make headlines just to get more views. A lot of people may don’t know about this much seats are being reserved. They will as you want them to.

    • The category based reservation is 27%OBCs+15%SC+7.5%ST=49.5% in the IITs. And based on the data that you just quoted the percentage of dropouts from the reserved category is 47.5%. Also the number of dropouts is more in case of Postgraduate students because of the fact that most students take admission in an PG program and prepare for Entrance exams like GATE, IES etc. They leave the course mid way if they get a favourable job opportunity during the course. There is absolutely no need to sensationalize the issue as there already is a lot of hatred in the society considering the caste based reservation. Also, as you can see from the data the number of dropouts is the most in the case of IIT Delhi as it is a metropolitan city and offers a lot of entrepreneurial options to the students studying there. I’m pretty sure a large number of students who drop out have entrepreneurship as the main reason. It is a request to not make unnecessary statements regarding caste and caste based reservation as it sparks outrage among the people

  18. Shekhar Gupta should be ashamed for allowing this shoddy, incidious and illogical piece to be published. The author belongs to a tribe of parasites who survive by manufacturing hullabula out of thin air by inserting caste or religion into everything. This is a textbook case of yellow journalism.

  19. I don’t know from where this heck of a tallent editor has trained. I mean he is very much impeccable at inserting caste angle to make headings, albeit with fluke blames. He deserves a bow.

    So if 50 percent general category students drop out that is no issue at at all, because that is mere 50 percent only. On the other hand, if 50 percent students from SC ST OBC combined drop out, that’s caste bias and systematic othering?
    Take a bow mannn…. You are extraordinarily talented because these much one-legged argument skills are scarce. I need to learn this from you.

  20. The author of the report does not even try to hide her bias here. Even though more than half the dropouts are from the unreserved category, her headline focusses on the less than half reserved category dropouts. In addition, she has forgotten that central educational institutes have only SC & ST reservation. As far as I am aware, OBC reservations are state created and varies from state to state.
    Further, there has been no research or investigation by the author on why the majority of the dropouts were unreserved merit students who supposedly do not face caste discrimination, are English educated & financially sound.
    Finally, since there is no OBC reservation in central institutes [AIIMS,JIPMER etc do not have], you need to recalculate by adding OBCs under the unreserved categories and then see the results.

  21. Every student is been judged by his or her performance based , instead of standing out with dropouts this headlines diverts ones thinking to be against reserved and favouring unreserved candidates . No one knows the circumstances in which the students fails .
    So stand against such sought of headlines and thoughts which creates diversion

  22. These reporters are such presstitutes . They could have written that more than half of the students were of genral category . Ugh!
    Please do not think youselfs as intellectualals because you are nothing but impersonators , impersonating real reporters

  23. To my knowledge Globally regarded Institutions do not dilute their standards.This inspite of students being unable to cope and sometimes resorting to extreme measures on themselves.
    If we are to achieve standards of ETH Zurich ( with 20 Nobel Laureates in its Alumnus including Einstein), Kyoto University, University Joseph Fourier.. University Tel Aviv, Benguiron Technishe Univ Munich, can we ever be swayed by such reports?

    Raising bogey of Brahminical attitude is not helpful? Going by experiences from Europe USA, Discrimination if at all true withers if real talent exists. It overcomes all nuisances .

  24. When you write a story, you want to color them with some headline to attract attention. If this is called journalism, well so be it. The reality is that 50% from general quota also drop out as much as other groups. It all amounts to expectation. One documentary film maker concludes on few narratives may not substantiate the actual. issues that need to be addressed.

  25. When I was a student at IITB, I was pleasantly surprised that there was no caste based discrimination. We were all friends.

    But with Government’s appeasement steps, where they have increased fee for the general students and made it free for the SC/ST students irrespective of their economical background may have created a little frustration in the minds of general students.

    The discrimination, if not created, is at least maintained by law makers.

  26. The headline of this news item is misleading۔ It gives wrong impression about the reservation. Whereas, indeed, there is fifty-fifty percentage of reserved and unreserved seats @iit. Indeed, the meritorious among SC/ST/OBC get selected from general open seat. That way, the ratio of SC-st-obc is lower that their proportion at the institute.
    This also reveals that SC-st-obc, though get allowances at admission lever, outperform at the institute.

  27. First i thought ,they dropped because they were incompetence in IIT’s but then i relaised that OBC are 40% and Sc/St are 30% of total population…….

    • In simple words this article is meaningless..just to manipulate people you so called journalists use the word “CASTE”.. No ground work..no reality check nothing…

      • Solution how not to fail:

        Failure may implies cast but not always and cast may implies failure but not always.
        So we should work on those may be fail (that we know after 2 semester)

        30-40 Students are studying in a same course give exactly same exam but some are pass some are fail. They are not synchronised together.

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