Would India be heaven if all of us went to IIT?

The pitfalls of everybody studying and doing the same thing is not just bugging C.N.R. Rao. It is bugging Anand Mahindra too. On the CNN-IBN show Being, the M&M scion articulated quite beautifully, the need for well-rounded education, to build an enlightened society.

After all, if everybody does engineering and management, if everybody becomes a software engineer or manager, who studies the languages, philosophy, sociology, psychology, history, geography…. Don’t those count? Or does it not matter as long we are making our little pile?

Anuradha SenGupta: Do you think the fact that you are a right-brained person, that you wanted to be a filmmaker or you studied filmmaking, gives you a different perspective from the other businessmen?

Anand Mahindra: Again, I wouldn’t claim as if I have an isolated status there. I think there are a lot of people who do. Having said that, do I believe that the filmmaking background is help?

Yes, but more important than the filmmaking is I think the liberal arts background. One of the worst bequests of the British, I think, was getting kids into a functional stream too early.

You know, finish your high school education, then get into a track. Get into IIT, do Aggarwal‘s Classes. I had to go through with all that because at that time; because I did well in science, my parents felt their son should get in to the IIT, become an engineer and so on.

Fortunately, I had an epiphany while sitting in an Aggarwal class which said that this is not for me. So, I just left and started applying abroad. I went to JJ School of Architecture for a year, but that went on strike which was again kismat.

Then, I applied abroad and what I discovered was liberal arts—that is the film part. And the beauty of the American system of liberal arts is it recognises talent even in a fifteen-year-old. That is how old I was when I graduated. You don’t have the knowledge to be able to decide the course of the rest of your life.

So, it gives you the luxury to experiment for four years in a variety of disciplines. I believe that is what India needs. Because if we end up being a country that only breeds techies, only breeds IIT people, I don’t think we will be able to build an enlightened society.