Response to ToI article titled ‘88% of IIT-B students say professors inept’

On Monday, the 8th of April, 2013 the Times of India published an article titled ‘88% of IIT-B Students say professors inept’ (Link to the article here). This piece on TOI claims to have been sourced from our article titled “Why Don’t We Study at IITB: Part 2 – Teaching and Learning Issues” that appeared on InsIghT’s latest print Issue – 15.3 (Link to the soft copy of the article here).

We have been compelled to write this piece by the absolute, and quite frankly, appalling misrepresentation and sensationalization of an article we spent several weeks working on. Our article was a product of analyses on student behaviour and motivations backed by years of introspection by the faculty themselves about their own skills at pedagogy.

The ToI piece, however, begins with a bold title claiming that 88% of IITB students think that our Professors are ‘inept’ and that the survey was conducted by a group of IITians from the current batch who were ‘fed up’ with criticism about their “poor performance” compared to previous batches. How any of that could possibly have come out of our article, is a mystery to us and we’re sure would be a mystery to most readers. Neither are our professors inept (they are among the brightest minds we have ever encountered) nor was the article written because we were ‘fed-up’ of criticism being levied at us. The latter, in particular, seems to portray that the whole article was written in a spirit of vengeance rather than what it really was — an attempt to start a genuine dialogue among students and faculty.

If ever the reporter in question had somehow gotten the wrong impression, she’d have been corrected had she bothered to contact someone from the InsIghT team. In spite of the explicit copyright notice and message on our front page asking to contact us before reproducing any content from the issue, we were neither informed nor contacted before content was taken and twisted in sensationalist ways.

On speaking with the reporter in question, we were told that she had been too busy to call us for our consent before publishing our content.

We believe that irresponsible journalism, like this particular ToI article, sets us back in our efforts and delegitimizes our intentions.

There are other instances of factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations in TOI’s article that transform the entire tone of our message from a balanced critique of fallacies in the system to a collection of sweeping statements – but we shall refrain from nitpicking and we urge the reader to read the original article for himself/herself.

InsIghT exists to address student issues on campus. Our goal is to effectively capture the perspectives of different stakeholders of an issue and voice their concerns. We aim to be the platform on which these diverse interest-groups can come together and understand and discuss each other’s perspectives and come up with solutions. We believe that irresponsible journalism, like this particular ToI article, sets us back in our efforts and delegitimizes our intentions.

We are members of a student media body, working on internal issues of the campus. It is beyond us, why major national newspapers regularly publish details of minor occurrences on this little island that is our institute. But if they must, it is our humble request to them, that they at least be faithful to our message.

– Nidhi Shanbhag and Nivvedan S

[Nidhi and Nivvedan were members of the team that worked on the original article for InsIghT. The opinions quoted above are theirs alone.]