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2 Jan 2007

Yet Another Rant by a non-IIXian

Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:27pm

Last week, as I cursorily scanned the latest books on display at a bookstore, I spotted this one that featured the most bizzare USP in recent times. Below the title By the River Pampa I Stood, the line - akin to the punchline for a product's advertising copy - read A novel by yet another IITian. It is, to my mind, an amateurish promotion method adopted by the publisher. I find it amusing that the writer should endorse such a marketing approach that exploits the reputation of his alma mater.

Erudition is worshipped in society and there seems to be no cure for this disease. For reasons beyond my comprehension, IIXians are treated like celebrities in this country. There's this prevalent belief that if you are from IIX, whatever you do is a class apart. You write a book and you believe it's enough to print "written by an IIXian" to make it to the bestsellers' list! The recent Pan-IIT meet was covered by media as if it was the confluence of Nobel laureates to discuss the sorry state of world politics. Another group that is treated similarly is the NRIs. The promotion of films by NRIs in the last few years reflects this quite. And all they make is crap! Gosh, things are bad!

I don't intend to dismiss the reputation of the institutes. Their stature is too obvious to challenge. Although they still lag far behind in comparison with the best in the world, yet they have been doing great in this country for decades. The disturbing factor is not about the institutes themselves, but about the chaps who graduate from these. The perceived value of these fellows in the industry is unreasonably high, and the chaps (not all, but most) themselves think all non-IIXians are inferior mortals. Going by the number of Nobel laureates or management gurus or research scientists that come from Harvards or MITs, our institutes are no match. We don't have a single program that can be put alongside - in comparison by any criterion - the Society of Fellows program. The joker Laloo could effectively tackle the chaps at IIM-A, but found himself cornered by those from Harvard and Stanford.

Coming back to the caption on the book, it says nothing about the content of the book. It says nothing about the writer per se either. It tells you about the group he belongs to, a group distinguished in fields not connected to writing. It's not inappropriate in all cases though - if you are a brilliant chap from the London School of Economics and you write a great book like Freakonomics, the mention of LSE fits into the equation. However, if it's a work of mushy romance or a bloody thriller, I'd find the mention of LSE a little cranky.

As regards the numbers, I believe Stephanians have written more books than IITians have. But I never spotted the line "Yet another book by a Stephanian" on any book. And, heck, the number of books written by non-IITians far outnumber those written by IITians. If I adopt the same logic and revel in the size of the group, I should have the line "Yet another book by a non-IITian" mentioned more prominently than the title itself on my book. Sounds ridiculous and reflects vanity.

No doubt, IITs and IIMs have been doing great for years, and I wholly appreciate the alumni's achievements. But I don't buy the idea that all IIXians are more brilliant than all non-IIXians. And I find it stupid when one uses his group's reference to promote his work in a field that the group is not known for. Intelligence doesn't need the crutch of reputation of institutes, and it's absurd to derive confidence from the same.

I'll be happy if someone finds the cure for the disorder of correlating intelligence with pay packets and treating IIXians and NRIs like celebrities. 

P.S. All references have been made considering the majority. So, wherever the reference seems to point to 'all', I rather meant it to point to 'most'. Considering that I respect friends (brilliant indeed) who made it to IIXs, it is rather bad writing than intent if I slipped into generalisation anywhere.

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7 Comments | "Yet Another Rant by a non-IIXian" »

  1. By RealityMirror: IIXians

    6 May 2009, 2:18am [ Reply ]

    That is the precise reason why India is called a "cesspool of filth" by most of the westerners. We revel in filth and filthy ideas and instead of respecting and recognizing knowledge, we simply resort to respecting the tokens associated with knowledge accumulation and dissemination. Changing our approach to "brands" and appreciating real knowledge and merit would definitely bring us redemption from our irrationality and ignorance. No offense to the IIXians here and they are definitely a brilliant bunch.

  2. By Vj

    5 Jan 2007, 11:34pm [ Reply ]

    @Blue Streak: Thanks for referring to that blog. It made an interesting reading and, yes, made me glad that some IIXians are objective after all. May their tribe increase! :-)

    @qualified_trash: I can understand... beneath the veil of nicety and grand ideals, discrimination is rife. Hope things get better.

    @vijaya kancherla: Indeed! No denying the fact that quoting the affiliation helps the credibility factor because of the associations - often wrong - that people have with 'images'. Few people are aware of the concept of multiple intelligences that you referred to! And your reference to 'lack of resources' and 'guidance' is commendable. Most people don't even acknowledge, let alone admit, these as vital determinants.

    @duggi: If you read it with more care, you would've noticed that I didn't dismiss the stature of the institutes. Nor did I dismiss "all" IIXians.

    @IIXian: Thanks for writing that - it only reaffirmed how the reputation of institute gets into the heads, in the form of 'pride', of "some" IIXians :-) If I may humbly point out, you read it just superficially, for I never questioned the standing of the institutes.

    As regards your logic about insecurity, let's see - if you rant against the silly deeds of famous/notorious politicians or goons or celebrities, does that imply you are insecure and envy their standing?

    Let's not forget that institutes are just facilitators. Satyajit Ray or Coppola never went to any film institute. David Ogilvy doesn't have a degree in mass communication/advertising. If Ray condemns the quality of work of FTII graduates, does that mean he is insecure that he hasn't made it to FTII? :-)

    For all you know, I may be from one of the top 25 management institutes in the world. In that case, do I have any need to feel inferior to IIXians? :-)

    What if we had just one IIT - say, IIT Delhi - and one IIM - say, IIM Ahm'bad? That'd make all those chaps from all the other IITs and IIMs non-IIXians. Does that take away their brilliance?

    The line is always thin and vague. Chill!

  3. By IIXian

    5 Jan 2007, 11:43am [ Reply ]

    Dude. You are speaking sense about the book and the author. But you are uttering trash against IIX in general. Please keep your insecurities to yourself. And DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT generalize IIXians. I am almost 100 % sure that you are very insecure than your so called brilliant friends who made it to IIXs... A confident chap would never rant against someone who achieved something. Grow Up Kiddo!!!

  4. By duggi

    5 Jan 2007, 8:59am [ Reply ]

    dude, ur angst against iix is totally misdirected. see, an iix difinitely gives a student an edge, it teaches something which other colleges dont, but if some iixian is arrogant that he is from iix and ur not, he dint learn anything from the institute. and all this hype? its just corporate doing stuff to help itself, see through it.iitians are as diverse as other ppl, there are those who are dumb, there are those who are hyper intelligent, but the difference is that we know what we are. not all iitians are super ultra mega lightning champions of excellence, not all non-iitians are the sloppy dumb blokes. but when somebody is branding them and using it to promote something, rest assured he is intending only to make money, and spark off such blogs which increase his books popularity. but when u rant about somebody else's hype, it shows something about u.
    dont get into the bloody traps corporates lay.

  5. By vijaya kancherla

    5 Jan 2007, 3:08am [ Reply ]

    An insightful blog

    I am in total agreement with you on such irresponsible use of institutional affiliations towards promoting one self for ones own individual benefit.. using a tag of a premier academy can only show one

  6. By qualified_trash

    5 Jan 2007, 2:52am [ Reply ]

    you could have NRIs who are non IIXians........ such as myself and I agree with you on "But I don't buy the idea that all IIXians are more brilliant than all non-IIXians"

    believe me, I have faced this shit many a time ......... :-)

  7. By Blue Streak

    2 Jan 2007, 5:38pm [ Reply ]

    Couldnt find much to disagree with you :)
    I guess you will be glad to know that your sentiments are shared by the IIX-ians themselves, as reflected in this particular blog: mydayzwithmyself.blogspot.com
    (Article title: "Guy in the Mirror")
    Best regards.

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