This week, I realised yet again how lucky I am to be living in these times. Sure, we have our fair share of problems – for example, global warming is threatening to turn the entire planet into the second class general compartment in a Virar fast, even as the powers that be spend all their time looking down each other’s pants to see who has the biggest nuclear warhead. (Oddly enough, this is one size battle that the Chinese can easily win)
But everything said and done, I’m still lucky because I don’t have to run around seeking admissions to colleges where the brochure reads as follows: “Those desirous of applying to our highly esteemed institution that exists only to crush the human spirit should note that in addition to a 100% aggregate, we will also need one of your kidneys, and later you must sacrifice your first-born at the college gates. If you are unable to do so, then our Dean is legally bound to come to your house and spit in your grandmother’s face.”
My consternation stems from the 100% cut-offs issued by Shri Ram College of Commerce for their B.Com (Hons) course. Like all major decisions in Delhi, including the ones made in Parliament, this too seems to have been fuelled by ungodly amounts of alcohol. The last time a bunch of professors got so drunk, they set up IIPM.
So this is clearly a serious matter and gives begs an obvious question – why are students killing themselves over the chance to be a glorified accountant? Just to put things in perspective, to become a politician and take on the massive responsibility of governance, all you need are criminal tendencies and a pulse. And looking at the BJP’s top brass, I’m not even sure about the pulse.
Delhi University has always been notorious for its cut-offs, and yet it has no trouble filling seats. So it logically follows that there should be a sizeable number of intellectuals there who’ve managed to get in and complete these courses. And therein lies the puzzle. I mean when was the last time you went to a Delhi pub, looked at a ‘Jat Boyzz’ in an Ed Hardy T-shirt and thought to yourself, “Hmmm, this fellow looks like a real intellectual. I’ll go discuss India’s foreign policy with him once he’s done shooting the bartender.”
Things aren’t great in Mumbai either. Admissions begin this week and according to a recent report, cut-offs here could also touch 100%. If they do, I’m sure Manmohan Singh will pop out of hibernation and commend the students of Mumbai on their “spirit and resilience”.
The lack of seats is further accentuated by the fact that many top colleges, such as Xavier’s, are minority institutions and have about half a seat available for the general category. Then there are quotas for a number of other communities – Sindhis, Gujaratis, Muslims, Tamilians and North Indians (Although I’ve never heard of a Parsi quota. It makes sense – there’s no point having a quota when the entire community can fit onto one bench)
So given that it’s mathematically impossible for everyone to get through to the college of their choice, I’d like to offer a bit of advice: The name of your college, much like Rohan Gavaskar’s surname, ceases to matter sooner than you think.
I would know. I studied engineering at a college so backward and primitive that they had classes on how to create fire and use it to ward off mastodons. I survived that – thanks to a very close friend called Kingfisher – and so will you. Unless of course, you join IIPM.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 19th June 2011)