New Delhi: India needs its graduates from premier institutions such as IITs to serve larger purposes rather than boosting sales of detergents at large multinationals, former president Pranab Mukherjee said recently.

"We require the talent of an IIT graduate for better purposes, than advancing the sale of detergents at any of the large multinationals. That job can be done by anybody. But surely the talent, knowledge and merit of an IIT graduate isn't required for that," Mukherjee said on Saturday at the Indian Management Conclave in New Delhi.

He added that there was need to promote basic research in the country.

In the last academic year, an estimated 75% of entrants at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) were engineers, with a sizable portion comprising IIT graduates. This has been the trend over the years, and has often led to questions on how engineers form the majority of management school graduates and thus under utilise the knowledge they gathered at IITs.

Sales and marketing are among key verticals for which companies hire from top management schools in India, offering lucrative salaries.

In 2017, Google CEO Sundar Pichai at an event in Kharagpur had expressed his surprise on the issue as well.

“There is a lot of pressure to follow a set of rules throughout your career (in India). When you are in high school you think of college. I get very surprised that people get into the IITs and immediately they are thinking about IIMs and so on. It is so important to get real world experience," Pichai had then said.

Engineering graduates often move to business schools in order to boost their career profile because management graduates earn substantially more. While the average salary of an IIT graduate is around Rs. 800,000, it's almost double for a graduate from a top management school.

For decades, entrance exams at business schools have been skewed towards engineers’ aptitude, with non-engineers finding it tough to crack the exams. But things have started changing as management schools have realise that a heterogeneous classroom will help produce better business leaders. Women and non-engineers now get concessions during the selection process at IIMs and top B-Schools. The fresh batch at the top IIMs this year, for example saw women candidates number between 24% and 42%.