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If You Stay Focused…

February 15, 2016

Wonder sincerely where the JNU or the Hyderabad University students get their time and energy from to organize and participate in protests other than for Academics.

One of my recurring nightmares is from the year 1986. It is about my Standard 12 board exam Maths paper. The blue-print has undergone vast changes over the years/decades and the scope of the syllabus has also been improved substantially. But in those days, we had some 1 mark questions, 2 mark questions, 3 mark questions and 4 or 5 or 8 mark questions I guess. Ofcourse we had choice in some sections, though not liberal.

Normally I would follow the exact question paper pattern in answering but for the first time in exam hall that fateful day long back, I decided to tackle the tedious problems first.

We had Calculus both Differential and Integral, Trigonometry-Algebra etc in the part III of the paper that carried maximum marks.

I attempted the first problem that was Integral calculus. I did not get the solution. In trepidation, I scored it off.

Next was one from Differential Equations which was my easy favourite. Once more the LHS did not tally with RHS and I scored it off as well. I looked up at the huge hanging wall clock and noticed that a cool 20-25 minutes I had wasted on 2 lengthy complicated problems I could not solve and I had nothing to show in the paper.

Hurriedly I returned to Part I and started tackling the paper by the given order. Could not finish on time. The 2 problems I had scored off had been correctly worked out by me, I later found through the newspapers. The candidates were to be given grace marks had they attempted the questions. Therefore I ended up scoring only 90% in Mathematics. A big set-back because until then it was rare for me to miss a centum at school.

The entire vacation, the nightmare haunted me almost everynight. In my dreams I would work out the problems step by step and score them off. I would wake up sobbing and shaking.

For years I remembered even the paper, the exact problem. In my mind, I worked them out to the last final step. It took over 10-20 years for me to forget the complete details of the problems.

Even now I get the nightmare occasionally. The ringing bell, the teacher threatening with pulling the paper from my hands as I shiver, cry and beg her for extra time…!

Over the years, I wonder what could be the reason for this strange exam paper dream obsession of mine. My guess is, the guilt feeling lodged deep in my heart for missing something valuable. Another could be that academics mattered to me as much always.

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My B. Sc. Maths classes were hardly exciting and I hated them frankly and even regretted having opted for majoring in Maths.

But it was diligent working out Maths that got me clearing Customs/Central Excise/Banking exams etc like a breeze.

I applied for Customs etc for Officer category not clerical. Got selected even for Group III services in State Board.

All these higher examinations needed you to answer a special paper of your choice – and mine was always Maths.

Not a single alphabet you learn goes waste, I learned in those years. My PG in Econometrics also helped me in my Bank interview. In the panel was someone who liked a little knowledge of Economics in aspirants. He particularly liked the Maths-Economics combo. I knew right at that moment, I was selected.

In university days, life was very tough. I managed to make both ends meet giving Maths tuition to school and college students. In my final B.Sc, I was already tutoring 2nd year B.Sc maths girls.

During summer vacations, worked for IMRB in their research department. They paid 30 bucks a day which was big money for me.

It is academics that saved my life.

Therefore I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for protesting students of any kind. There are so many, many bright and eligible and meritorious candidates waiting to get into right universities but denied entry because they are being blocked unfairly by QUOTA CANDIDATES. How callous of the Dalit students to misuse and squander something so precious offered to them on silver platter bypassing the honestly deserving cases.

In my days in Madras University, my department MUSE was over 60% filled with dalit students who knew next to NOTHING. We felt the shame and embarrassment acutely when we had visiting professors from foreign countries giving us guest lectures. A big pindrop silence hung over the quota candidate section. Rest of us had to step in and answer for them as well if at all they bothered to attend lecturers.

It is wrong to state that the staff of university are upper caste. Not at all. Even among the university lecturers/professors, already by 1989-91, a good majority were SC/ST with PhD (acquired how is a big puzzle).

Research had touched a new low. All of us were in haste to get out of the university fast. Those like Maths, Statistics, Music (Carnatic), MBA, Sanskrit etc had fortunately less number of reserved category candidates because these were tough subjects where you really had to WORK HARD which our quota candidates were never upto.

From my experience, the Dalit candidates showed no interest in academics or in improving themselves. None held anything against them but they always harboured a serious inferiority complex (naturally). The superiority was more about knowledge base. Mass failures among them, not surprisingly. The quota candidates however exhibited extraordinary interest in anything controversial like political, social issues over academics. Campus to them was a fertile ground to start an argument/fight or blow up a trivial matter into mammoth proportions. ANYTHING TO IMPLICATE THE MERITORIOUS ONES. 

Still almost all SC/ST candidates from my university got into Railways/Central/State Govt Undertakings/PSUs etc through quota reservation even before our results were out. In this one area, I did not see them drawing back. They claimed concessions as their rights and never felt any shame about it.  It took rest of us 2-3 more years to fit into suitable jobs, fighting our way up every inch. None handed down to us anything in silver platter.

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From my graduate years I can recall this: We Maths/Physics/Chemistry girls never had spare time ever. We had volumes and volumes to work out. Our Chemistry/Physics friends also had to toil in the lab.

My Maths classes started the very first hour, the very first day in my college. Fresh out of school, my lecturer did not take over 5 minutes to introduce herself to the class. She reeled out some 40-60 Differential Calculus problems to work out – all verbally! My pen started scrawling right then keeping pace with her and never stopped until the final year. Her name is Shyamala. I still remember her speed and agility in working out complex calculus problems without referring to any texts/notes or writing in the board. One second if I missed, I would miss out on an entire problem. No absentees all 3 years among Maths students unless otherwise it was absolutely necessary.

Hundreds of theorems to prove, hundreds of derivations to arrive at. Mathematics is abstract subject. You get the point only as you wind your way through the course.

We had cycle tests, monthly tests, quarterly exams, half yearly exams and model exams even in graduate studies. No time for respite.

But I recall how the other department students enjoyed the college days. For them, it was time for a 3-year period of excursion in the campus. They hung out in our (sparse) canteen and wash rooms for hours. They bunked classes even in my strict college to go to pictures or beach or shopping or eating out. In our college bus, they were the loudest. Even in bus, I would be poring through important notes and papers to attend a test the following morning.

Weekends meant loads of assignments and preparations.

We referred to more than one prescribed text book. My professors recommended more than one author to prepare us for the best.

Science studies are not easy. Assignments, assignments and more assignments. Non-stop tests. The 3 year period was rigorous.

Yet whenever time permitted I took part in literary contests like essay competitions, poetry (I wrote some amateur things even as earlier!). Participated in many inter-college culturals. Won prizes too! I had similar company – also from science departments.

One thing strange about non-maths/science graduates was that, they had loads of time that they wasted. They could have qualified themselves in better manner. They were after all learning theory subjects. You did not need to work hard to substantiate or prove anything basically. It was cake walk for them.

But in literary contests I was impressed by the fact that it was Maths/Science graduates who dominated. I can’t recall the boys’ names now. But I did come across some regulars from Loyola and Vivekananda (men’s) colleges in those days form Physics/Chem/Maths department who competed with us girls in essays/poetry.  In my PG days, I had a dumb-charades team formed with Maths graduates like me who were quick to grasp and a tad sharper. I could not somehow gel with Economics background girls-boys. Our very view point in life differed. Our Maths-Econometrics team also won a third place in University culturals in Dumb-charades. We were equally avid participants in theatrics giving a run for their money for social sciences graduates.

Maths and Science definitely help you hone your skills better, in my opinion. You can have lucid, practical ideas not vague, ambiguous theories like the kind normally floated by lefties. Our academic background makes us believe in workable solutions and point to truth straight away. There is no beating about the bush. Journalists today who are social science grads no wonder try to justify irrational and  impractical stands on matters.

I never have had respect for Social sciences graduates like those who studied Psychology/Economics/Literature/Sociology/Political Science. Now my views have changed slightly but back then we girls categorized the non-science students always as ‘wastrels.’

From my Maths department, we already had girls studying computers in NIIT and Apple even as back as in 1986. Today they are all in the Silicon valley. That was the year, private engineering colleges opened up in the city for the first time. Still getting into Maths/Science courses was not easy. I got my admission to B.Sc., only on the third final list.

In our PG days, many of us were simultaneously upto something or other. 5 of my Econometrics classmates got into US universities for Ph.Ds and never got back to India. Rest of us were trying to get into banking/govt services. Private sector in India was not yet as expansive and the IT boom was still a few years away.

Getting into core industry is difficult even in present times. You can therefore picture our period. Without sheer hard work, you could arrive at nothing.

Yet in my batch, none was left stranded jobless. We bet the quotas, we bet the recommendations, we bet the bribes and we still all got into well paid jobs and launched ourselves headlong into our careers without any external help.

Only 2 things helped us get where we are today: Sincere Hardwork and NO-DISTRACTIONS.

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My husband recounts his first job experience as civil-structural engineer:

He joined his first project after he applied for a placement through ‘The Hindu’ advt on getting his degree.

Everyday he had to report to work at 7 am. He would be given lab samples (soil etc) to take to Manali (30 km afar). He had to commute by bus only. Getting back he would say most of the times he missed lunch and subsisted only on tea and bun from petty shops. Evening 3 he would have to go to site. Back home by 10 pm.

Whoever had fun in university, he says, could not complete degree on time. What it took a mere 4 years for engineering graduates like him, took some people 6 years. He says ‘work while you work, play while you play.’ The hardworking ones are reaping benefits now.

No distractions out of academics. This inspite of him representing his university in interests as varied as Cricket and Scrap Arts. He never compromised on acquiring theoretical or working knowledge.

Gone for over 6 months in Malaysia without a day off working in Petro-chem sites – for over 12-13 hours a day.

He knows how tough life is and as a practical man therefore, avoids controversies.

Engineers lives are productive. At the end of the day they can say, they made a good living.

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When I was out of my bank job due to my Union leanings, I never regretted it. But what if my family conditions had been demanding or different.

Even though we had a despot for Chairman, some of my friends escaped unscathed too through the years. They say, they kept mum and cultivated patience because they did not have husbands like me to bail them out, how true.

These are the hard lessons of life I learned.

The bank is not about the chairman. The bank still goes on. My services were not for any individual. They were for an Institution. I must have managed to stay afloat. The real heroes are those who survived their stint to relate their stories later.

What is the point of the entire rebellion. Union is now most corrupt – this is the latest news from my bank, now merged with a colossal nationalized bank. They are taking lakhs for recruitment I believe. We defeated one demon only to grow one of our own,

The very point of my struggles/protests for my bank stands defeated today. The entire chapter is meaningless.

I am blessed with a generous husband, otherwise what would be my case today?

One more statistic like Rohit Vemula? Rohit made it to Page 3 or his 72 hours in air in his death. Soon the world would forget him and move on to the next sensational story. Definitely our media will. Who is the loser now. Who is the FOOL?

If given a chance to rectify something about my career, I would go back to my bank days and erase my Union leanings. It cost me dear.

The Union office bearers all have now got back into the bank through back-channels once the chairman left. They were paid arrears with interest. The scapegoat was me and a bunch of lady colleagues. The greatest betrayal was how the unionists forgot us in their haste to get back into services once again. Some of us were the essential casualties in the process. 

Imagine the numbing shock that pervaded me when I came face to face with my manager who was instrumental in damaging my career and bringing it to a close. I met him at my union GS son’s wedding reception and learned the painful truth that they had remained friends over the years. On that day I decided, self-interest is the best interest. There are no permanent friends or enemies in life. No fixed principles. No lofty ideals. Everything is subject to change. Compromise, peace is the key. Holding grudges or loyalty is of no consequence.

JNU and Hyderabad students must all be art/social science graduates with so much time in their hands. Can you manage to take up a banner if you have to work out pages of calculus or if you have hours scheduled in physics/chemistry lab? Or if you are a medical/engineering graduate? You can spare the time and energy because you have no obligation to fulfill, nothing much to do. 

When there is no fodder for the brains, all your other sense kick in to work the most as the brain lies rusted.

Media guys are in newspapers mainly because they couldn’t perhaps deal with science or maths in their school/university. Explore their backgrounds : they all will be social sciences or literature or arts graduates. Their jealousy stems right from college days for the better-off: science/tech students.

You see the screeching bylines in papers, ‘breaking news’ tv bulletins. How the media persons sensationalize non-existent issues. Why? Because they have to justify their existence, their livelihood, their unproductive wasteful pursuits.

What was Vemula studying. Economics I bet. Psychology (not Psychiatry which is a branch of medical science). Political science. Literature. Sociology. And yeah the STUPIDLY VAIN JOURNALISM. TOURISM. All useless subjects that need to be scraped from universities. Delhi Universities are ‘reputed’ for offering NONSENSE courses.

Count how many Maths/Physics/Chemistry/Life Sciences/Bio-Chem/Engineering/Medical students are there leading protests in universities. ZILCH. A BIG ZERO.

That’s the picture for you.

ROHIT VEMULA WILL NOT BE MISSED BECAUSE HE WAS TRULY A NOBODY. Even he seemed to regret his ‘association’ going by his own admission (as revealed in the suicide note). Like I belatedly regret my union links. JNU student-activists will one day learn what a high price they will be paying for today’s misadventures. NOTE GUYS AND GIRLS: ARVIND KEJRIWAL IS AN IIT ian. NOT A NA-LAYAK LIKE YOU. He first minded his own business that’s why he is where he is today. His daughter is also in IIT now. Not in JNU like you – the cattle class. Now this must be some food for your thought.

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The greatest service we can render to our society is discharging our duty first without a lapse/excuse. If everyone of us can take care of himself/herself, there won’t be grounds for conflicts, if any. Only when we step out of our boundaries when it is deemed inappropriate, we have issues at hand. Universities are temple of knowledge and learning. Not meant for anti-national activities, especially in support of dreaded terrorists like Afzal Guru who attacked our national parliament.  Or Memon who aided bombing Mumbai Stock Exchange. NO SIR/MADAM, THIS IS NOT FREEDOM OF SPEECH OR DEMOCRACY. It is you, only you, who are acting contrary to the idea of India. And now that you acted in full knowledge, face the legal consequences. After all you are LEFTIST.

 

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WHAT YOU CAN PROTEST FOR IN UNIVERSITIES:

  • If facilities like Library. Computers, Lab Apparatus etc are lacking/inadequate/out-dated
  • If amenities like Canteen or Rest Rooms are lacking/inadequate/ill-maintained
  • If Faculty is not upto the mark
  • If Valuing system is faulty or biased
  • If Tuition Fees are unreasonably high
  • If Syllabus is out-dated or irrelevant
  • If there is no scope for self-improvement/personality development/grooming via attending guest lectures, extra classes, etc.
  • If there is no scope for research/future
  • If there are no internships/industrial training coming your way
  • If you have been unjustly denied admission/entry into anything you are eligible for
  • If the course is dissatisfying in any other way

 

 

 

 

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From → Dilli Durbar

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