A question: has anyone taken on one of these prospective interns? (And if so, how was it?) Most of them would clearly be hopeless, but there are some that look like they might be OK. The trouble is, there's some kind of economic principle at work here, that says that in a market that's flooded with bad eggs, the good eggs cannot be sold. In this case, what happens in that we end up deleting all these emails without reading them.
One such email that I bothered to read yesterday was typical: it claims to have read the recipient's work in detail, then goes on to profess an interest in a range of topics none of which related to anything I know about. I suppose that email was sent off indiscriminately to a large number of academics, and you might be fooled if, by chance, you have the same research interests as the ones mentioned.
I'm vaguely disturbed by the way these emails produce a kind of stereotype of these students; eventually you cease to regard them as individuals. I'm curious as to why it is Indian Institutes of Technology that produce them, and no other countries seem to do so. (I could not find much from a brief perusal of the web. Here is a related earlier discussion.)
Research Ethics: a Brief History
2 hours ago