/A Fresher’s Perspective I: The Brand Name

A Fresher’s Perspective I: The Brand Name

The following is an opinion piece by Mritunjay Kumar Joshi, a Y16 undergraduate student. The views conveyed in the article are solely of the author. The opinion section of Vox Populi provides a platform for the campus junta to voice their opinions.
This entry on the topic ‘IITs: Passion or a Social Pressure’ received the third prize in the freshers’ writing competition.

“Beta, life set ho jaegi…”
We all have heard one or the other variation of this expression. We have heard it a lot.

As soon as the news of our JEE preparation spreads, plenty of family members, neighbours, every random family friend and all the relatives that exist only during the exam result declaration period, constantly tap the doors and windows of our head and then smack it with these lines.

It is just like one taps an egg against a bowl to crack it open and then mix it all to make omelette.

We are, most of us, converted into such omelette. Just like the beaten egg, our brains are all turned topsy turvy and delusional by our dear society. Not to mention the overcooking in the social pressure cooker.

Most of us have studied endlessly for two­-three years. Blindly. Dedicated major chunks of the 24 hours that we so fondly converted into a pie chart only to use as the tissue paper after eating samosas while cursing every other trigonometry problem. All this cursing and blindly working just because ‘they’ told us that this is a great career path. True it is. But by being blind, we never asked “Why do I want it?”, or “Will the fattest package that I am told I need really satisfy me?”, or “Is this decision really mine?”

Most of us never had time for such introspection because ‘The Monkeys’ were hanging on each others tail in ‘Concepts of Physics’ and it was our duty to address this issue of utmost importance.

We must realise how twisted this tale of IIT entrance exams is.

“Oh, you committed a silly mistake in the practice test? And fixed it? Cool. Thats great! But…Sharmila Aunty kya kahengi if you dont get in the IIT’s due to such silly mistakes?” So many of us have this add on fear of what if I do not get a good enough rank?… Still the main concern is not the ‘not­ as­ expected ­rank’, but what will ‘they’ think of my not ­so­ good­ rank.

The social pressure is immense. If happiness is a sunny day in a beautiful hill station with birds chirping in the deep blue sky, then such insane pressure is raining cats and dogs at the same place coupled with some chocolatey landslides that drag you along.

The IIT tag, is really over hyped in our society. Yes, IITs do offer really incredible opportunities and after coming here, pretty much nobody regrets the lack of clarity of their passion, but the social pressure that many people face in the process is not justifiable.

Many people get into IITs just for the sake of it, many people opt for a branch that they have no interest in only because it’s an IIT and society will think highly of them for being an IITian.

“Cool. You say that you love what you do? But…whats your branch’s average and highest package?”

“Oh, you made it to IIT? Which branch are you doing Btech from? So…you mean not B-tech? (makes poker face and leaves).”

“Wow, you have such a good rank. So where are you taking Computer Science?”

So often it happens that people who want to study basic sciences and go for research are demotivated and they don’t go for what they really want to do. Society has kind of primed us to get a job quick and make loads of money, money enough to use the Rs. 1000 bills as tissue papers after eating samosa.

Many people are like “Oh, so they have a BS programme also in IIT?”

And we fall for such people who live in their own world and let them influence our passion and path that we follow in life.

People do say that IIT is not the end of life. But pretty much everywhere the same people say, after a time interval of about 1 hour, 13 minutes and 11 seconds, that, “IIT nikaal lo…beta, life set ho jaegi.” And on top of that they create an environment that makes us feel that IIT is the ultimate aim of life and for however short the interval might be, a thought does cross the mind that maybe he was just joking when he said that IIT is not the end of life.

The matter is really serious, there are plethora of cases when people just have had enough of the social pressure and it all explodes. When they really cannot take it anymore and they decide to end it for once and for all, saying very often “I failed you.” or “I could not make it.”

All because they were made to think that it is a really gargantuan thing that they are working on. Once you fall into this pressure, there is no escape, there is no reason behind it, it’s just a circular argument meant to make you go haywire.

But even amidst such dark and mostly pointless abyss of social pressure, there are some people who remain really passionate and dazzled by the exciting opportunities that they will get in an IIT in a field of their choice.

They pursue what they really want to. No matter if that gets him in the Guinness book of world records for witnessing 1000 unique weird faces people make on hearing his choice of higher studies.

Such people really want to do something and make a difference. And all this does not require any external stimuli, it’s just the ‘antaragni’ they have.

One can argue that getting into IITs really needs passion and dedication. Passion to be at ‘THE PLACE TO BE’ and dedication to make it. It is indeed true. But that passion mostly ends after the exam, no matter what the result.

It is a really fuzzy boundary between IITs being a symbol of passion or them being the symbol of drudgey and social furnace that the students endure. But the recent trends clearly show that IITs mostly represent the latter.

Test it yourself, the words IIT and IITian. What does it bring to mind? Most probably it is something like ‘a great package’, ‘good social status’, ‘easy life in the future’, ‘great matrimonial prospects’ or something similar, and in less numbers something like ‘a researcher’, ‘the guy who is changing the world’, ‘the person who studied hard for JEE only because he wants to really study more’ and so on.

This bias is the output of our all time favourite criteria for checking if our choice is right­ society and social pressure, the evil within.

Written by Mritunjay Kumar Joshi