So here goes nothing. In a particularly disturbed mood, after yet another encounter with the ugly side of life at a ‘premier management institute’ housing the ‘best minds of the country’ and a pep talk from a major source of inspiration in my life, here I am, writing (for the first time I confess) about something that really matters to me.
As I was walking to class today, I passed a congregate of youngsters wearing that unmistakable trademark formal attire and that even more distinctive ashen-faced doomed expression. “GDPI”, came the reflex thought. And as we walked by, I could feel their eyes on our backs, looking up to every person on the other side of the river as some sort of Demi God. And even as my friends and I giggled at the thought, I couldn’t help marveling at the extent of misplacement of this perception. If I am any sample to go by, many (if not most) of us are pretty clueless as to which lucky gust of wind blew us across and how we landed atop these ivory towers. I, for one, find myself increasingly bewildered every time I realize what these credulous aspirants’ version of me is. Unsolicited Orkut scraps from strangers galore, asking for guidance(!). While I get away every once in a while with obvious wisecracks about ‘body language in a GD’ or ‘honesty in a PI’; the truth, I have to confess, is that I would usually do this more to wash my hands off an unwelcome stranger than to render any real help. And I guess it is nothing but the much celebrated brand value of the institute that lets me get away with these antics and makes my unsuspecting correspondents buy this crap I offer them on the silver IIM platter.
Harsh reality is… let alone them, I can barely help myself in the place I have somehow landed myself. Which brings me to the catharsis. I have always been a staunch believer in the concept of Its all for the best. But the heavens above really seem to be testing my faith long and hard this time round. Call me a bitter if you will, but finding a foothold in the foreseen moss of competition and the much unforeseen muck of politics of an IIM has proven to be way harder than I would’ve reckoned a year back. They say a B-School teaches you a lot. I am beginning to wonder if there is more to that statement than meets the eye. When they say B-School, do they mean just the lectures and the case studies and the field projects? Or does the word also encompass the parallel universe of ruthless and endless struggle for survival? A world of the proverbial Indian crabs, pulling each other down, blindfolded by ambition, thereby ignorant to the larger good?
Not long back, I recall, the media was having a field day covering students of more such ‘premier’ institutions forming human chains, staging protests out on the roads, braving the Indian summer.. the Nation admired with glowing eyes, the commitment of Young India to the virtues of social justice and of equality. I find myself in the unenviable position, however, of having seen both the masquerades of ‘young India’.
As yet another MBA aspirant, I cheered with the nation as I saw these students fight for justice. I dreamt of the meritocracy they talked about and wondered how the infamous politician in question failed to see the beauty in the simplicity of the solution they had to offer. Start from the grass root level. Bring every child of the country at an equal pedestal. And then let the OMR sheet decide who lands where. I idolized my warriors of righteousness as I saw video clippings of them facing tear gas and water cannons play over and over again.
As an MBA student today, I find myself a hapless witness to people belonging to the set I once venerated, lobbying for petty gains, battling it out to the hilt to push themselves that extra incremental notch ahead and leaving no stone unturned to suppress the merit they once so vehemently advocated. Though let down by her heroes by the look of things, the optimist in me tries to seek solace in Darwinism. This is Natural Selection in action—Survival of the Fittest. The only catch, however, is that the definition of ‘fitness’ seems mutilated beyond all morally plausible recognition.
One may question the point of this post. Am I daring to present an argument against progress? Am I trying to be the voice of rebellion against Adam Smith’s age old theory of self interest as a source of social justice? Or am I just a bitter loser unable to cope with the pace of a competitive world, venting my frustration on the only space I have access to? Quite honestly, your guess is as good as mine. At some level, I worry that there is something wrong with the new world I find myself a part of. At another, the wide-eyed optimist in me continues to wait.. for the best to come!!
“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”