Over many years, with utmost sincerity, hard work and honest intentions, a set of people spent a lifetime to built the reputation enjoyed by IITs and IIMs today… reputation of being the best, of admitting only the best and grooming them to be better than the rest and ultimately of branding them for life.
What else do the institutes give its students other than the brand name? A good job to start with, a salary figure more than the peers, relatively faster career track, a few formulae of survival in society and a little bit of knowledge. As a few after-effects, they get a false sense of worth, a peer group with an unnecessarily high set of expectations, an unbelievably high performance pressure, a pride difficult to leave behind, a hope of bright future and a set of envious people waiting for a chance to demean them. So where does these institutions leave its students… these institutions claiming to be building future success stories? Now that’s an interesting irony.
Learning opportunity or just tags?
Millions seek them, few manage to earn them, and most are left behind with a lifetime of longing and desire. However, hardly anyone is able to realize the true impact of what they achieved or what they were denied. It is especially true in today’s time, where these premium education institutes have become an object of desire. Much more than a learning opportunity from some of the most knowledgeable academicians as a stepping stone to a good career, these institutions have ended up as a coveted tag after the name.
A part of the blame for the after-effects also goes to its ancillary industry, the coaching institutes, which have sprung up across the length and breadth of the country facilitated by many aspiring entrepreneurs, as a profitable money making venture. Stakes are high for students and claims are higher by these institutes, 100% success rate, 80% admissions, money back guarantee… you name it, they offer it. The students are lured and so are the parents. An average middle-class family with constrained resources cut down on their other needs to fulfill the dreams of bright future of their kids, and a faint desire of moving up in life with their success. Young minds, still vulnerable and mostly unaware about their true talent and abilities simply take the easy decision and follow the herd, supported by their parents and families. They practice and practice more, resulting in a set of individuals who are selected because they knew the tricks and tips of cracking some of the toughest entrances and not because they have it in them. Some of them might never be able to make it if there was no pattern to the entrance exams and no expert analysts at their coaching institutes to identify these trends and guide them. Nevertheless, they make it to the much sought after institutes. They are now a part of the exclusive club. How they got in is a question nobody is interested in. The world cares only for the tag, because that’s what they understand.
The brand name gives them a chance to be noticed in a crowd at first, but whether they can maintain that attention for more than 2 seconds is a question. My personal experience with some of these branded samples has been quite disappointing. I made a genuine effort to see beyond the tag, but my vision met only a vast void filled only with gas and air. My sample size is too small, I agree. But I am now biased against the judgments based on branding. I have lost faith in the quality of brands. Many of these have failed to live up to the reputation of being the best. Most are, at best, only mediocre.
The lost grandeur?
The institutions have to now work harder to ensure the quality of influx of students or live with the sub-standard quality of professionals churning out in the market carrying their brand name. That’s the only way they can sustain without brand dilution. That’s the only way they can be fair to the ones who are genuinely the best and fair to the average ones who doesn’t have the ability to cope up with the pressure of being qualified the best. The IITs and IIMs have lost the grandeur they have earned and lived with over the years. Kids across the country still fight with millions to be a part of the best. They still don’t know where it will take them in future. The kids already spoiled by the Indian education system, where the focus is on numbers and statistics rather than true learning, add another layer of rust on their brains and intellect with a pinch of arrogance thrown in for special effect, that comes with the ownership of the brand name.
And I wonder…
And sometimes I wonder about the future of India where the entire system of education is so messed up. Every year our education system churns out an assembly of so-called ‘perfect’ products. The primary education kills the curiosity, the secondary butchers the creativity, the senior secondary wipes out any desire left to learn, the graduation compromises the strength of character, and the post graduation adds the perfect cherry on the perfect cake giving the false sense of maturity and overestimation of self-worth to the already rusted brains, closed minds and distorted personalities. In a span of 20-24 years, the society and our education system converts the kids into a machine that is a part of the herd with no clue about where they are and where they want to be. The few thinking minds and fewer thought leaders have a direct and unfavorable impact on the development of our society and its future.
Sometimes I wonder if any of these machine creatures ever stop running towards some unknown and futile goal, even for a second and think what happened to the curios child within, who had this uncanny ability to look beyond the boundary that defines the rules of society and life created by the apparently mature adults. The after-effects of education leave behind a set of adults who learn to be a part of the system with a typical mindset. At each step of education is added a layer of human vices… envy, pride, indolence, anger, hatred and the like.
The ‘typicals’ v/s the ‘rebels’
The after effects of our education corrupt the virgin minds for ever. The few that remain untouched by the ‘typicals’ are labeled as the ‘rebels’. These few who dare to differ either make big success stories or keep fighting until they give up or die. I wonder which of the above definitions I fit in. I really don’t know. Perhaps I am the observer sitting on the bleachers enjoying this splendid game of struggle between the typicals and the rebels, playing my bets on the winners with few other observers like me, who refused to be a part of the sport to enjoy the fabulous view from the bench, at least until we manage to gather enough nerve to step into the field and fight with the rest.