It appears to be the result of a toxic mix of entitlement and credentialism.
This is not to say that all Indian programmers are incompetent, though an Indian IT executive basically gave up on ⅔ of all IT grads in the country, which is a remarkably high failure rate for the elite institutions.
Reports of mass copying during school and college examinations in several states, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are common. But a blog post by a computer science professor indicates that students at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, and other engineering colleges, indulge in it too.Any comments from people who have been through an IT education in India, or those who have experience working with Indian IT professionals would be appreciated.
Earlier this month, Dheeraj Sanghi, a professor at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology-Delhi, wrote a blog post on the quality of the country’s information technology engineers, which corporate recruiters also seem to be concerned about.
In the post titled, CS education is poor because of copying, Sanghi referred to a statement by Srinivas Kandula, chief executive of information technology major Capgemeni India, at a business event in Mumbai earlier this month.
At the event, Kandula said: “I am not very pessimistic, but it is a challenging task and I tend to believe that 60-65 per cent of them [IT recruits] are just not trainable.”
Speaking to this reporter, Sanghi said: “In many colleges, even in some of the IITs but to a lesser extent, students either copy the code for a programme from the net, or one student writes it, and the others copy. The code is tested in the laboratory. If it runs – and it does – the student is awarded marks even if the lines are not original.” He added that these shortcuts are adopted as early as the first semester.
In his blog post, he recounted that he was recently part of a selection committee to recruit programmers for a government department. He found that most applicants he interviewed, including those who had “several years of experience in industry”, could not perform a variety of tasks they ought to have learnt at engineering college. “These [were] all the programmes we ask our first semester students who have never programmed before,” he wrote.
But Indian Institutes of Technology have had their fair share of cheating scandals, some of which seem to have resulted in a cover-up.
For instance, in 2011, a computer science professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, was suspended for reporting a variety of irregularities at the institution, including mass cheating in examinations. It led to a court case, which is still on. With the next hearing scheduled for Friday, the professor was reluctant to talk to this reporter but his lawyer Pranav Sachdeva said that one of the charges against his client was that “he spoke to the media about it”. Sachdeva added that the IIT had “tried to impose compulsory retirement [on his client] but the Delhi Hight Court put a stop to it”.
Even though engineering colleges can easily check copying if they wanted to by failing students who did not submit original programmes, there’s perhaps a valid reason why institutes hold back. “I know of one college which tried this,” wrote Sanghi in his blog. “Every single glass [pane] in all buildings were broken by the angry students.”