Odile Henry, Mathieu Ferry
Educating the engineering elite.
Classifications and classification categories in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)
Since Independence Engineering studies have been seen as a force capable of transforming Indian society, with advanced technology being central to the development model. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) hence particularly embody the values of modern India. Exempted from the application of reservation policies to start with, IITs tend to be perceived as places that produce a meritocratic elite, freed from the contingencies related to caste and their political exploitation. The success of former IITs students in the US computer industry in the 1980s and the liberalization of the Indian economy in the 1990s tend to make IITs a “brand” associated with Indian global competitiveness and the values of a private sector disembedded from the social and political spheres.
Based on an ongoing fieldwork in one of these technical elite education institutions, we will question this meritocratic model.
The analysis of the process of admission, orientation towards streams (degrees and discipline), selection during the training, and placement on the labor market, highlights the types of hierarchy that exist within the student population and the trends that contribute to the global reproduction of social inequalities.