Prof Indiresan taught for 40 years in the IITs and was the director of IIT Madras. He is a past president of the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers and of the Indian National Academy of Engineering. He is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, and has been conferred honorary membership of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers, US, and an honorary doctorate from the Karnataka Technical University.
Do you think the ISEET will eliminate the coaching class culture?
No! ISEET will not eliminate coaching institutions but will make them change their programmes to help students do well in the exam.
Reports state that the ISEET will have an SAT-type component which will also test comprehension and language skills. Would this be fair on students from smaller towns from regional language mediums?
If ISEET is fashioned like SAT with a requirement to know English well, that is good. If India is to become a global power, its experts should be proficient in a global language—which, at present is English. If the Chinese are learning English assiduously, I see no reason how Indians can escape that.
What, in your opinion, are the benefits and shortcomings of aptitude-based common national entrance tests for professional courses such as medicine and engineering in India?
Benefit: It is likely to promote better qualified students.
Shortcoming: It will not ideally identify innovative minds. For that, we will have to adopt the American system of Harvard, MIT and Stanford—use the ISEET score for shortlisting only, and make the selection from referee reports from school teachers who have known the student well. An interview would be even better. That means coaching institutions have only a marginal value—which is all they deserve.
What would you advise students and parents who are now in a state of confusion because of uncertainity in government policy on these tests?
Students should study well, and well enough to understand what they are studying. As for government policy, I can only wish the students and parents the best of luck because the policy changes every day and even within a day.