Amidst the noise about how this year mattered to bankers, politicians, environmentalists, neo-Nazis, and godmen, one important voice was left out in the cold. It isn’t like we young people are used to too much attention; but to listlessly ignore the tumult in our lives isn’t quite done.
Education may be the best phase of everybody’s lives – but one considers it memorable only when it has passed. In the midst of dreary college years, it is quite, quite horrific. Don’t you want to know, then, how this year broke new ground in our lives?
Pulling all stops and no résumés
To talk of bankers in NYC turning into taxi-drivers and snobbish MBAs in Bangalore having to trade their Mercs for measly Maruti Esteems is all very well. But there were related tragedies in our world that went unreported for the most part.
The mammoth crowd on the first day of placements in college would make you think this was the Indian Institute of World Culture’s annual book sale or MTR on Lalbagh Road on a Sunday morning. It was, of course, as worthwhile as neither. The placements, however, resembled the aforementioned in two ways: the money involved was microscopic and your chances of getting in first were bleak. Something like one in 672,525,924.
Smiling HR people walked into pre-placement talks, demanded academic excellence, extra-curricular vigour, an indefatigable temperament, and some “X-factor”. All this in exchange for peanuts and promises you wouldn’t leave their organisation until 2054. Nobody batted an eyelid – who knows when the next organisation will come looking for recruits, or if?
Someone great said “failure was the stepping stone to an MBA”. I forget who. What nobody said, however, was how the entrance test preparation constitutes two parts ambition and 98 parts desperation. When most of us were driven (away) by the job market fracas to the outstretched arms of entrance exams, A Leading Global Provider of Tests together with the Indian Institutes of Management firmly put an end to this option. Not only did they bring in a shiny new computer-based test, but also ignominy to what used to be the most well-organised entrance test in the country.
“The CAT has always been a test of candidates’ ability to manage time and come up with solutions under pressure,” says a media-shy employee of the Leading Global Provider of Tests. “While each year the candidates were tested on their prowess in math and English, this time it was more about their ability to gather as many repeated questions as possible (discreetly) over the 10-day window, fix broken computers, deal with ridiculous speculation, and solve problems in spite of distractive proctors trained to annoy to perfection,” he says, adding “Oh, we also threw in some questions where the right answers were missing”. He explains how the scenario occurs routinely in management and was, hence, a necessary parameter that demanded testing.
Hartals and haranguing
In what will definitely go down in history as a plot for three lifeless art-house movies, the students of Osmania University used their angst and, erm, free time to try change the history of their state(s). The Telangana protests were a definitive youth initiative; especially in a time when the average age of the youth wing cadres of political parties is 42.
In spite of this year-end analyst’s best efforts, everything that happened in 2009 sounds like an unoriginal montage stitched together from the past. It’s as if the script writer of world history ran out of ideas. A contrived film that derives the noir bits from the dot-com-burst-mooted recession of 2001, the slapstick from the CATastrophic(!) paper leak in 2003, as if the Telangana protests were a grander imitation of the Central College strikes of the ‘60s, and with Aamir Khan looking like a clown trying to do what only the inimitable Dr Rajkumar could do by reversing his age-logic in numerous films all those years.
Yes, gentle reader, you got that right. Like the septuagenarian in your neighborhood cynically comments, “nothing changes”. The more things change, the more they remain the same; as did the year gone by – for men, women, the young, the old, and the bankers. ⊕