Posted by: Vikram | March 20, 2009

India’s smartest states are ….

Well, Arunachal Pradesh it seems, atleast when it comes to engineers. The table below lists the states (and some UTs) along with the number of students per million population of the state that cleared the AIEEE,

State/UT            Number of students per million population that cleared the AIEEE

Chandigarh 1190

Andaman & Nicobar 726

Arunanchal Pradesh 556

Delhi 495

Sikkim 340

Manipur 327

Himachal Pradesh 210

Uttaranchal 194

Goa 192

Haryana 180

Jharkhand 171

Assam 168

Tripura 164

Rajasthan 152

Andhra Pradesh 148

Meghalaya 128

Chhattisgarh 108

Pondicherry 104

Kerala 103

Punjab 98

Jammu and Kashmir 96.4

Madhya Pradesh 82

Nagaland 80

Uttar Pradesh 80

Mizoram 71

Maharashtra 63

Orissa 60

Bihar 58

West Bengal 46

Karnataka 42.3

Tamil Nadu 35

Gujarat 34

Data is from

Jokes aside, what does this data mean ? The first thing to verify would of course be that this is indeed the case roughly every year. But assuming that it is, why are literate and ‘advanced’ states like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat at the bottom of the pile ? With Tamil Nadu, the presence of the state entrance exam, the TANCET does explain some of the discrepancy between perception and reality. But I think the real problem is that although TN has done a great job of buliding schools and enrolling students, the kids are not learning. The latest status of education in India report by the NGO Pratham indicates that only 62 % of the students have the number skills in grade 2 that they should, which is lower than the national average. Even though I would expect the data above to correlate more with learning at higher grade levels, I am sure that if kids are not learning in grade 2 then they arent in higher grades either.

Also surprising is Karnataka’s number, but again the Karnataka CET can explain some of it. Bihar doesnt do very well, but the Pratham report says that the state has done a great job of improving both access and the quality of education in the past 3 years. One can expect this number to go up in the years to come. Two other strange states are Mizoram and Nagaland. They do much worse than their other NE counterparts (who are among the top performers), inspite of being the most literate states in the entire country. Why this is, is beyond me.

Rajasthan and AP are the best performing ‘large’ states. Rajasthan is another state that has invested heavily in education in the past few years. I was a bit surprised to find Haryana at they very top, but it might be a fluke. The top performers are the hill states like Himachal and Sikkim, this is in keeping with the general better governance in those states.

One thing is clear, smaller states do better. It seems the smaller size ensures better governance, especially in matters of education. But this does not mean that states be split up, only that state governments decentralize their control over education to districts and municipal bodies.


  1. Strange indeed, about Mizoram and Nagaland. But I also think its about how literacy rate is not exactly equivalent to further studies (although it undeniably plays a major factor). I have come across people doing a research on this earlier too and I will definitely pass you the link if I come across it.

    People are intrigued about what Mizos do or disappear off to once they pass the literacy rate threshold (clearing 10th standard) because we seem to remain stagnant after that. Interesting observation indeed.

  2. I ahve no reason to beleive that this report is not correct.However,most surprising is the situation in Andaman,Arunachal,Kerala and K’tka.

  3. I think that perhaps a more effective and meaningful view would be to see the number of students clearing an examination w.r.t. the number of students.
    Engineering is not the only field, and only type of education. Though it is believed that engineers are the measure of a country’s economy, but literacy means a different thing perhaps at national level.

    If, the number of students appearing in each state are proportionate, then according to the above data, i believe that it is perhaps the children of comparatively less privileged that strive more to excel in studies. The data can be slightly correlated to the economic status of people residing in the respective states.

  4. I have to agree with R.K.

    I think a significant part of the explanation is how “engineering-crazy” a state is. There’s a bit of an engineering craze everywhere in India, but at least for A.P., it is an overwhelming rush. Nothing else matters, nothing else is deemed interesting. Families will mortgage houses and pay their entire life savings to get their child an engineering seat. There is an entire caste system among college students based on whether they are in engineering or not.

    In other states, perhaps people are unwilling to bet *everything* on an engineering degree. For example, I do think Gujaratis are very smart people; they probably just aren’t that interested in engineering and want to go into business for themselves.

    Perhaps including medicine in these statistics would give a better idea of how well a state is really doing.

  5. i think the ratio of how many students take this exam to the number of them who get through the exam is to be considered —Are you arriving at the decision of “smartest states” based on this ?

  6. @ Kima: Indeed, high literacy rate shows no correlation here. I think it is because the quality of education and the attitude to higher studies (in the area of engineering) matter more. Please do send me that research when you find it.

    @Chowla saab, yes Karnataka especially was quite surprising to me.

    @R.K. and Anrosh, yes, number of passers divided by number of takers per state would have been more effective. But I couldnt find that data. I also think that the number of students taking the exam will be rougly proportional to the population of the state.

    @Armchair, yes including medicine would give us a better picture, but that kind of data is hard to come by.

  7. Arunachal Pradesh’s figure does not surprise me. They have an engineering college in the state and people have seen how competitive and rewarding it is to pursue Engineering course. Nagaland and Mizoram do not have an engineering colleges in their state. Just to appear on the entrance exams itself is an arduous tasks for students in these two states. If an Er. colleges are instituted in Nagaland and Mizoram, the figure too will go up. Just like the no. of Ph.D candidates among Mizos just shot up after we have Mizoram University in the state.

  8. We have very good government schools, in fact most of them are better than private schools.

  9. @Armchair Guy,

    Being from AP, I should say that the craze on medicine is as equally high as that on engineering.

    And I think we should definitely encourage such craze. We Indians are woefully short of engineers and doctors to serve our population (especially because a sizable chunk of the graduates migrate).


    I don’t know if you should use the AIEEE exam clearance result. Me thinks there are several flukes here.

    A better way to judge the performance of each state is to measure the share of their populations amongst engineer workers in different sectors (computed again with respect to the state population size, as in the current survey).

  10. Hi Vikram,
    I can talk about Maharashtra. We don’t have many people appearing for AIEEE because the state education test is considered superior and if someone appears for AIEEE, its because they can’t get thru the Maharashtra state system. 😛

  11. All,

    Here’s something this data seems to be correlated to, the expenditure per student in every state.

    Arunachal Pradesh tops the list and Gujarat seems to be a the very bottom. Take a look at page 28 of this report,

    Click to access aser08.pdf

    @ Priyank,

    yes we do have the MH-CET in Maharashtra that takes away some of the students from AIEEE.

  12. You and other bloggers have talked of state CETs.

    Apart from this, you should see access to IIT-JEE and direct admission to colleges like BITS, Manipal, Vellore and the like.

    The next that you need to see is the total population of the state, number of students aspiring for an education in engineering, and those who get an opportunity after passing a host of entrance exams.

    The next factor is many students who have been unsuccessful in these exams will probably opt for diploma courses at various polytehcnics. Post a diploma, a student can spend an additional year and still get an Er degree.

    Lastly, one must also see how many alternative opportunities exist in that state. Gujarat with a vibrant industrial, commercial and entrepreneurial culture may give ample opportunities to students apart from engineering.

    In Maharashtra, many students opt to join agriculture universities also. Non-engineering sectors like finance and other services also pull a lot of youths away.

    One needs to consider many more factors beyond AIEEE statistics to come to some conclusion.

  13. AP oh ya sure…My batch was the first time NITs were drawn under AIEEE…and I tell you, AP competition is soo high…like my AIR and State rank are just few hundred ranks different……especially in the first 5000 ranks if you see the statistics…In AP, most parents want their kids to be either engineer or doctor…no other profession is seen as a profession!! Thankfully, my parents never forced anything but I love MPC so chose engineering and currently am working in a refinery in a challenging role 🙂

    But still, I think we need to consider many other factors not just AIEEE!! I feel they show only part of picture!

  14. @ Vikram

    Best performing states in IIT JEE are Punjab,UP,Delhi,Rajasthan and AP….

    i think JEE should be a better criteria

    Vivek, first of all, do you have any evidence that suggests that those are the best performing states in the JEE ? Second, the AIEEE is a better indicator, because it constitutes the bulk of India’s future engineers. JEE is a very small sample set, about a 10th of the AIEEE sample size.

  15. Vikram

    Plz see following link from “The Hindu” about last IITJEE results, numbers are given zonewise

    Delhi,kanpur and roorkee zone combined sent 2407 students in IIT out of total 5537 seats, and these three zones comprise states of Delhi,UP,Punjab,Haryana,Himachal and J&K which is small area geographically..and given 44% of total IITians

    following link shows these zones comprise of which states

  16. Vikram

    I sent you the response with evidence, but is not appearing here, plz check your spam list

  17. wat this guy is saying??????if u ask to any1 u can see tht keralites are the smartest educated and people who attain the top position worldwide,,,if u say tamil i understand their education and standard of life only exists in city limits the rest of tamil nadu is in a pathetic situ….but if u check kerala the standard of living is same everywhere,,,,,keralitis r smartest and educated tht 2 100% no doubt,,,plz check the wikipedia and thr u would get a list of noted keralites plz check tht out,,,,

  18. i think the word ‘smart’ should not related with education. there are lot of dumb people in the world who are educated well. smart means something else. you cant give a good meaning to the word ‘smart’. overcoming struggle in life is kind of smartness. people with no education are smart in different areas. smart can be smart in different areas. i may be wrong .. what you say..?

    • You are absolutely right Siddartha. Perhaps what I should really say is that these states have smart administrators who have invested in the education of their citizens.

  19. Interesting post, however your assertion about Gujarat being “literate” and “advanced” is misplaced. Gujarat undoubtely has attracted lot of investment and is very industrialized with high GDP growth, and has media go gaga on its “development”.
    However dig into social fabric and human development, its quite backward state. Its human development indicator is among the worst in India, Malnutrition is very high, Sex ratio is among the poorest in India (Surat with sex Ratio of 755 is the worst off district in indis in this regard). Situation of women & lower cast is also deplorable. Hunger index in Gujarat is again the worst in India.

    In Hunger Index, Gujarat is even below states like UP and Orissa.

    Hence Gujarat is somewhat similar to Haryana, Haryana has highest per capita income among all states in India and very high growth rate with low poverty and high prosperity, but has among the worst in sex ratio.

    • Welcome Rohit. Perhaps you didnt notice that I had put ‘advanced’ in quotes in the relevant line of the post. It is mostly for the reasons you have mentioned.

  20. Some of the comentators have mentioned that poor performance of certain states is due to states own entrence tests which takes away students from AIEEE, which is absolutely not correct.
    As most of the students aspiring to be Engineers invariably take AIEEE parallel with respective state exams as AIEEE gives opportuinity to get admission in NITs which are very reputed (second only to IITS) institutions, along with many other reputed institutes.

  21. Slogging in front of books is not equal to smartness!!!
    see Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadela and people like them. Not some fucked AIEEE score. U nerd author.

  22. Historically [Last 200 years], Bengal has been the seat of intellectualism of India. Janan gana mana adhinayaka Jayahai by Rbindranath Tagore, Bande matarm by Bankin Chandra Chatterjee and Jai Hind by Subhas Chandra Bose have all been given to India by Bengal. 4 out of 7 Indian Nobel Prize winners are from Bengal [Not including Prof. S.N.Bose of Bose – Einstein theory and after whom the god particle “Boson” is named, Jagdish Chandra Bose the rightful inventor of wireless communication technology – Marconi the Italian scientist stole info from Bose]. Bengali Monk Swami Vivekananda is an ICON of Hindu India.

  23. Unfortunately, there is not a single good thing that has come out of any HINDI speaking State [Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajastan etc.]. South Indians would rather self immolate than adopt/accept Hindi. Bengalis believe that Hindi is the language of “Nauker, Chakar” [Domestic servants].

    Once India’s GDP comes close to say 15 trillion dollars [Year 2035 – 2040] India will be made [BY THE USA?] to DISINTEGRATE on Linguistic lines!! – SAVE MY PREDICTION ON YOUR REMOVABLE THUMB DRIVE!!

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