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One reason why the Mandal Commission saw the northern zone up in flames (while the south was peaceful): pvt engg colleges in TN, AP, TS even around '90. Even today with 3x+ ppopulation, UP has just 25-30% more engg colleges than TN.……
Even a small state like TS (3.5 Cr population vs 20.5 Cr population in UP) has almost a third of the engg-colleges which UP has. 99.9% of these colleges teach next to nothing; but at least some of the good students get a platform - some do their MS later.…
Rajasthan has approx the same number of private engg colleges today, as a small state like Telengana; which has roughly 50% of RJ's population.…
That's how, the south saw tens of millions of families leap from poverty into the middle class. These colleges seldom taught anything useful, but many of their students were at least able to enter basic IT-service and tech-support jobs; data-entry; data-processing. Good ones: MS.
The flip side for the south? Nearly all the good students ended up in either medicine or engineering programs. Talent vacum for other fields. In addition: abundance of seats in mediocre colleges made some of the students lazy when it came to national level engg/medicine exams.
FIITJEE, Bansals, PI rapidly expanded in the north in the 90s because at that time, for non-south folk: just 5 IITs + 1 BITS; no IIIT for half-decent engg education (at least 50 good campuses now): that's how most Olympiad medallists; JEE/NEET toppers are mostly from that zone
The Computing boom changed a lot, though. Didn't require heavy infra like mech/chem did. Some colleges like Jaypee, Thapar, JSS created the right culture (despite no fancy resources) & created excellent engineers esp in software.……
Today, a similar kind of divergence is observed in medicine. TN has a large number of pvt medical colleges (often run by shady politicians, but still) but the good thing is - at least a lot more students seem to be considering bio and medicine post k12

Even when colleges teach little; knowledge, awareness, confidence spreads. Esp with the web. Zoho founder's post about the benefits of the "placebo" impact of poor-quality education. 20 line program for a CS degree can give confidence for much larger tasks…
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