Thanks Satya Nadella (now CEO Microsoft) for proving that even those who don’t get into IITs and those who pay capitation to get their degree… can also shine ahead of the rest…

He “possibly” did not get into IITs; He “probably” paid capitation to get into Manipal BUT He most definitely has gone right to the top… I celebrate Satya Nadella’s success not just because he is an Indian (or Indian origin) but one who has set to rest several stereotypes from the Indian education system.

One such is highlighted by a firstpost article where it states… (see link)

Our system is designed to keep people out, not get them in. The true value of an IIT or IIM is not the intellectual capital they produce, but their filtering expertise – which keeps all but the superlisters out of these institutions. When the people entering the institution are the best among the best, they will shine no matter what the quality of faculty or the curriculum. 

Nadella did not get into the IITs “possibly” but still made it.

I say “possibly” because in the era that he went to engineering college, all Indian students would first attempt to get into the IITs or NITs or other reputed first league colleges before taking admission in Manipal.

Nadella “probably” paid “capitation” to secure admission in Manipal.

I say “probably” because in the era that he took his admission, students would have to pay a “capitation” fee and this is why Manipal was not a very revered institution at that time.

Forbes in an earlier article from 2011 narrates the repute of Manipal of that time… (see link)

There is another bigger issue — one of reputation. The Manipal brand name is synonymous with education as well as capitation. For decades, students and parents have thought of Manipal as a last resort where, if a child is unable to make it on merit, he/she can always get a seat by paying a higher fee. But this is no longer the case. 

In the 1950s, Manipal was the first university to introduce the capitation fee system, where the higher fee paid by students helped fund the university’s infrastructure. As a private university, Manipal did not have any other option. However, though these strategies financed the university, it also ended up smearing its name.

(From 1993, when Manipal acquired a deemed university status, the capitation fee system was removed. Admissions are now strictly based on a candidate’s performance in the entrance test.)

Nadella possibly started his Engineering studies in mid 80s and so most probably his admission was also with a hefty capitation fee. Allow me to also point out that he had a decent schooling where he played games and took part in all activities. This breaks the myth that only those who have locked themselves into coaching setups to get into certain institutions can make it to the big league.

And most definitely there existed a certain social look-down-factor against those who studied in “capitation” colleges. Now so many of graduates from that era can breathe easy as they may not have to justify their degrees or allow it to be looked down upon.

Satya Nadella proved himself through all this and made it.

Now his success means that even the repute of Manipal (of that time) that was so eloquently described by Forbes is now described as something totally opposite in New York Times… (see link)

Graduate of MIT — but not the one in Massachusetts. Got a 1988 degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, one of the top engineering schools in India.

Maybe it is time for Chetan Bhagat to pen a new book  and for Aamir Khan to come up THREE IDIOTS PART 2.

And for Brahmins in the Indian Education System (read IITs) to do some introspection on why they are getting more known as the alma mater of political leaders than for global industry leaders.

5 Comments

    1. Point taken… They had qualifications though the academic qualifications were basic. Its not that Satya’s qualifications are basic. He is very well educated. Only that he demonstrates to us that what we considered as below-par was not so…

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  1. It feels nice to see this blog recognising Sathy’s achievement. I believe that the credit goes not just to his education (mainstream or MIT does not matter as much) but also to his adaptability and drive which got him to the top. The fact that he probably paid a capitation fee is irrelevant. However, it is true that you do not have to be an IITian or an IIM alumni to make it into the big league.

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