i had recently written an essay on the recent reforms in the IIT-JEE. To give it more publicity I had given it to our student media cell (which, except for a jarring abberation, is a pretty well-run organization) and they had sent it to a few newspapers.

The Times of India has published it as a front page article in today’s education times. Takes up around 4/5th of the top half of the front page, with teh other 1/5th devoted to Prof. CNR Rao (JNCASR) ‘s views on the same.

Whatz more, they have published the article exactly as I have sent it – they said that since it is an opinion based article, they are against editing it and asked me to make some changes by myself. Kind of ethics not expected from the ToI !!

Anyways, i’m feeling kicked that I managed my first “publication” in a national scene. Hope I can write a few more good ones.

the responsibility i shirked…

As I had told you last week, I had “gone on strike” and refused to take up a certain responsibility on behalf of the finance club in IIMB which i’m part of. I had said that I wasn’t confident of doing a good job of it and hence didn’t want to give false promises.

Inspite of my backing out, others in the team decided to take up the responsibility and the worst i had feared had happened – i was not confident on the data sources we required for the project. it turns out that they haven’t been able to locate a good enough source. so the entire project has been scrapped .

When i was told this by a teammate today, my first reaction was “I told you so”… Dunno if i should feel guilty about this…

my story…

I started off as a rebel. Used to question everything and did nothing unless i was convinced about its usefulness. Mom gave up on me trying to make me religious. I was the teacher’s nightmare in school and my parents used to be frequently called for complaints. I was later made school captain and i started functioning as a student union leader. However, i made sure I wasn’t sacked.

Then new blood (i.e. me) joined that institute (IITM) and quickly got subdued. I was forced to conform. People in the hostel suppressed my madness with constant banter. For a week I remember everyone avoided me. Because I was being myself. They tried to condition to behave the way everyone else there did. People would try and interfere with me every other moment. Having had a major personal disappointment just prior to joining IIT, i needed friends. And the only way i could make them was by conforming.

Then, there were complaints to my parents from my relatives that I’d become too arrogant. “It’s all because he has joined IIT”, they said. Parents, unfortunately, took their advice and tried to “reform” me. At one point, I even landed up on a psychiatrist’s couch. Nothing came out of it.

Yeah, I had become a “good boy”. Every action of mine was well thought of. I used to doubly check that I wasn’t offending anyone before doing or saying something. I religiously listened to my parents even when they said ridiculous stuff like “you should not be seen in public with a girl of your age”! LOL! I stopped playing games because I “wasn’t good enough” at them. Tried my best not to offend anyone. Did only “socially acceptable” stuff. I was indeed the “good boy”, pleasing all and offending none.

Then, suddenly to my surprise, I found out that I had lost all confidence in myself. Good but not great grades didn’t help either. Extra currics also suffered big time. As I became the modest wimp, I had lost all faith in myself. I ended up not enjoying IIT life as much as I should have.

Thankfully, somewhere down the line, I did one sensible thing and wrote CAT. 2 years in an IIM would give me another opportunity at a similar institution and opportunity to make new friends. My confidence started rising in 4th year at IIT. At the same time I started throwing tantrums.

First few days in IIMB I tried to be a “pseud” guy. Fell flat on my face. Returned to the “wimpy” mode. Had a jolly good time in 1st term, except for a personal disappointment. Started faring pretty well in both acads and extra currics. But still every action of mine was guided by the “shouldn’t offend” thought. The life I lived and the life I wanted to live were totally different. I wasn’t at all happy with myself and used to cry every other day (almost).

Somewhere down the line, I think i’ve changed back. Dunno how I did it though. Probably through spending time with myself. My confidence has never been higher. I have become exremely self-centered and arrogant. I shirk from responsibilities. I do only those things which I believe are useful. I live by the instinct and continously follow my heart. I forget my duties. I refuse to help people if I don’t want to help them. Have become a kinda “bad boy” now. Don’t know what people think of me and it doesn’t matter also. What matters most is that I am happy now. I have been on a perennial high for the last few days!

You must have a healthy disrespect for conformity and a healthy respect for rebellion.
– Prof. Ramnath Narayanswamy, as part of the course “Tracking Creative Boundaries”


My maternal grandmother passed away early this morning. Had been suffering for a long time from a multitude of illnesses. Hence it didn’t come through as a shocker. In some sense it was a kind of relief that her suffering has been put to an end. May her soul rest in peace.

Would like to put down some thoughts that kept going round my head earlier this morning. It is a slightly impersonal view and you people might think i’m heartless and stuff. However, the fact that it wasn’t that much of a shock meant that I could observe stuff clearly. And there were thousands of stuff I could write about. And this is only a summary of my thoughts earlier this morning.

Granny lived with my mom’s eldest sister (who’s unmarried) and a housekeeper. Death happened around 1:30 am. Aunt called up my uncle who lives nearby. He quickly arrived, saw granny had passed out and went to the nearby Ramakrishna Hospital. Asked for a doctor to come and confirm the death. A thousand bureaucratic hassles followed. They cribbed big time. Finally sent a nurse in an ambulance to the house (which is bang next door to the hospital). Who confirmed the death. And charged Rs. 500. And refused to issue death certi.

Me went there at 2 am. Then went off to an aunt’s house nearby to crash. Went back at 8. The place was swarming with people. Hundreds had come to offer their condolences. Including very distant relatives. And a fire had been lit in front of the house. People were crying all round. Some were philosophising. Others just talked about the recent ganguly-chappel spat.

Found myself in an awkward situation. 16 hours of Floyd a day means i’m perennially high and always smiling. Found it tough to put a woresht look on my face which everyone else had done. Was pretty embarrassing actually. My granny, who i had lived with for a large part of my life had passed away. Relatives from far and near had come and had broken into tears. Worst case they looked pretty hassled and upset. And there i am, with a “normal” look on my face talking to people as if nothing has happened!

Then, the ceremonies happened. Granny had “booked her own funeral in advance” some time back. One phone call and people from this funeral service came armed with a hearse van, a priest, puja equipment and what not. They had even booked a slot at the crematorium. I hear that even the ceremonial rites which will go on for the next 13 days have been arranged for!

The corpse was brought to the courtyard (an uncle remarked how till a minute before death the person is referred to by name and then immediately after he/she becomes “the corpse”. he talked about some soul level stuff…). We had to pour rice on granny’s mouth and then go touch her feet. But it was a little spooky so i just did a namaste instead of touching her feet.

Then there is this woresht funda that you shouldn’t eat/drink anything between the time you come to know of the death and you’ve seen the corpse and then had a bath. Me got slightly screwed as my head was throbbing as i gulped down some bananas as soon as i got out of bath at 1 pm. Dad was in a much worse state. He broke fast only at 3 pm as he’d accompanied the corpse to the crematorium and he’s diabetic and has recently had a surgery. dunno how he did it. the lengths to which people go to appease society!

Then there’s the funda that when people who accompanied the corpse return from the crematorium, no one is supposed to SEE THEM until they’ve had a bath. VERY SHADY. and i questioned it and got a pasting from mom (who has been pretty upset). And no food is supposed to be cooked at home. After i had my bath, i went to a restaurant which sells wholesale meals and brought stuff for the people.

The superstitions seem very arbit and laughable. But i’m not allowed to question it. I’m sure they had SOME funda behind them when they were framed ages ago. Sad part is they haven’t changed with advances in technology. I think that is a fundamental problem with many people in India today. and also in the past.

We had a glorius ancient history. But our people in the medieval age refused to adapt themselves to the changing world. And got left behind, forever. Even now, many laws refer to acts passed way back in the 1800s! Yet another instance of inertia. Really pissing off.

Another fundamental problem with many people here is that you are not allowed to ask questions. Generations have been brought up on a diet of suppression and conformity. No wonder most of our industry today relies on being “techno-coolies” rather than being at the frontiers of technology and innovation! Which reminds me, I was supposed to attend a conference on Innovations and patents in India. Couldn’t go because of this unfortunate event.

Then this thing about “you should always respect elders and listen to them, no matter how stupid they are.” Yet another cultural issue which hinders progress.

reservation fundaes…

Spent the last couple of hours teaching math to a friend of mine. He entered IIMB through a reserved quota last year. Did extremely badly and flunked the first year. If he doesn’t do well this time round, he’s been told he’ll be asked to leave.

During the course of my teaching, I figured out that his level of understanding is much lower than most other people I have encountered. The way I had to teach today was totally different from the style I adopt during the tutorials I take. I had to literally hand-hold him as I took him through one of the not-so-tough parts of probability theory.

Having finished teaching him, I am forced to raise this fundamental question as to whether we are overdoing reservations in the premier institutes. Many candidates who enter through the reserved quota end up doing pretty well (in fact this year one such guy, a good friend of mine, narrowly missed out on the coveted Director’s Merit List which is awarded to the top 10 performers in the batch) but there are also many who end up doing really badly.

Some of them take three years to finish the course. Some of them are forced to drop out. Some manage to finish the course but it’s a nightmare for the placement committee to place them at the end of the course (yeah the last bit happens with some general category people also but the incidence is much less among them).

There’s this other incident I would like to quote here. A girl wrote the JEE one year before me. Didn’t do well enough to get in but was offered the “Preparatory Course”. At the end of the course, she was found not to have done well enough to continue to the main program and was asked to leave. She raised a hue and cry, moved court, moved the National Commission for SC/STs and managed to get in (as my batchmate). I have heard from my friends and juniors that she’s unlikely to leave IIT with a degree.

Are we raising false hopes for these “weaker sections” by reserving too many seats for them? Would we be better off taking only those candidates from the “weaker sections” who are reasonably good and are likely to successfully complete the course and not keep taking just to fill a quota?

The guy whom I taught today has already spent a year and a quarter and 2 lakh rupees for his education at IIMB. And he seemed to give an indication that he’s not doing too well this time round also and is likely to quit sooner or later. And he had a software job before he joined IIMB. Now, as an “IIMB dropout”, it would be tough for him to find a job. Wasn’t he better off still working in that software firm?

Important questions to be answered but i bet that in the name of populism, vote banks, etc. these quotas will only increase and more people’s life will get ruined this way.

changes in myself….

of late i’ve become highly individualistic, arrogant, self-centered, short-tempered, etc. Just the way i was in late 12th standard or when i just entered IIT.

and as of now, i’m yet to experiences the repercussions of being this way (i’ve been like this for the last 6 months). and i’m pretty much enjoying life. and i’m also confident about myself (almost bordering on overconfidence) – confidence was something i sorely lacked during the last 3.5 years of life at IIT when i tried to be a “good boy”.


i didn’t resign…

i didn’t resign as i had planned. instead i decided to back out of that particular project only. here’s what i sent:

i’m neither motivated about the forex game nor am i confident of doing a good job of it.

under these circumstances it would be silly to promise to deliver this to someone.

hence i would prefer NOT to do this game.

i’ve taken this decision after prolonged thought and considering multiple points of view.

and i’m not open to any further negotiations on this.

Feeling totally at peace with myself now…

more club issues…

part of this finance club in IIMB. there’s a huge looming opportunity coming up in the way of a mega online game our Forum for Industrial Interaction (people who organize Vista, the bizfest) have offered us.

Sad part is i’m the guy in the team who will have to do the work connected to that if we are doing it. and i DON’T want to do it. and everyone else thinks it’s a “wonderful opportunity” and want to do it. anyone in their positions will – they aren’t going to put too much effort into it anyway. and they are VOLUNTEERING ME to do the work…

have gotten my resignation letter ready… will be sending that off now…


wrote a paper for Vista, the IIMB BizFest. Couldn’t imagine that such fraud jobs can also qualify as “papers”. It wasn’t even a neat copy-paste job. read up a couple of websites on a topic, made up a fraud “lever model”, applied it to the topic, wrote about whatz wrong with the topic… and gave a list of “just like that” recomendations…

halfway through the paper, i felt really pathetic about it and suggested we not send the paper. however, my partner said that we wouldn’t lose anything by sending and since we had already put in that much effort we might as well send it across…

still can’t stop laughing about it… and i’m definitely not going to wait for the results!


as i sit and think about my career choices, i suddenly have this feeling i want to become a prof. in something like economics or public policy. at one of the top institutes in India (IIT,IIM, types). i enjoy teaching, i enjoy research in stuff like this, if i’m a prof people will LISTEN to me, i’ll have the opportunity of interacting wiht some of the best people in india.

guess after my MBA i’ll work for 3-4 years (my mom says 2), then go for a PhD and come back and bcome a prof.

those of you who’re into research/teaching please tell me the cons of such a career. money is not an issue. i don’t mind not getting extremely high salaries as long as i get enough to keep me and my family happy.