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(Here I am talking about youngsters who are yet to decide their future. So this may not be extrapolated to everyone in this world)

Now its exam time here in IIT Madras. The semester is getting over. The students are seen, either in a sleepy mood, having mugged the whole night of the previous day, or running around worried, to complete the lab reports or taking the photocopy of their friends’ notes. Many of them look frustrated or deeply anxious about his/her performance in the examinations. The final year guys are worried about finding time to complete their B.Tech projects, I must admit, none of them, after getting an offer for higher studies or getting placed, are motivated to complete it. Of course, some other lots of guys, who have easy going attitude, are still in the same mindset. They do whatever they want, I mean, they are little bothered about the general exam fever that has affected the major lump of the institute…….

Let me start with a very basic question. What did I learn in the last semester? The courses which were taught here? I should say a big NO. This is because, I mugged the things taught by the professor on the day before the examination, and I forgot them the day after. I didn’t learn much here, then why did I mug them, if not to get the concepts? I did so to get good grades. How much did I ponder over the ideas which the teacher gave us? I spend little time over them. So what did I accomplish when I got the good grades? I learned to beat the IIT system of education. Well…….I should say this one I learned when I was in my school. So it’s just a kind of routine work for me…

Essentially, there are two kinds of people in the world. One, the group that know what they are doing and the second, who don’t. The second set of people does things just because others who succeeded in life did so. In fact 99% of the people in the world belong to the second group. Original thinkers are very less in number in this community where we live. The same applies to the educational institution in which I am in right now.

Many of them are more bothered about what the other person have done more than him.

The reason which they say for this frame of mind is that the system is bad, the institute tries to relatively grade students based on the three hour test which the teacher give. They hardly look for his/ her capability to apply the concepts which he learned from the course. In fact some of them are vehemently arguing for a more continuous assessment of their understanding in the course. One more thing to be said is most of these people (not all), will again blame the teacher who tries to implement some kind of a better system of evaluation through term papers or projects for pushing them too far!

The question to be asked now is, what can you do about this? No system is perfect in this world. All of them are moving towards completion, which take several light years to reach. So I feel the best thing to do, naturally, apart from suggesting the loop holes in the system is to look out how much one can extract from the system. The fundamental idea behind the undergraduate system is to find out where exactly your interest lies. If you are able to find that out by the end of your graduation, you have really learned something. That is where the success lies. At least you should be able to say what not you are interested in. Even that is a huge amount of knowledge gained.

Then I can ask, are all the people in the world, who are interested in us, having the same concept about our potential? Don’t they look for our grades more than our interests? Then won’t you, irrespective of your capability be sidelined for a guy who learned to beat the system? Surely, they do. This is the right way to go also. There are guys who are exceptionally good in the area of their interest, but miserable in everything else. They say, it’s better to be good in one field, than to be an underperformer in everything. Definitely, they are right. But this idea is applicable only to a higher level. You can’t expect a straight, easy path to achieve your passion. There will be roadblocks on your path to the Neverland, which you are trying to reach. So I say, we should take the other courses which are thrust upon us as such roadblocks, and put effort to go through them. This will show more about your determination to achieve your dreams/ interests.You should conquer the courses which doesn’t stimulate, there lies the real test in your quest for your interest.In short, you should beat the system, without forgetting to find out your real interest.

Finally, I would like to conclude by including the lyrics of the song , “wherever I may roam” by Metallica. Before I do so, I would like to add, many of these ideas, I got from my talks with my friends, my acquaintances etc.

…and the road becomes my bride
I have stripped of all but pride
so in her I do confide
and she keeps me satisfied
gives me all I need

…and with dust in throat I crave
only knowledge will I save
to the game you stay a slave
rover wanderer
nomad vagabond
call me what you will

but I’ll take my time anywhere
free to speak my mind anywhere
and I’ll redefine anywhere
anywhere I roam
where I lay my head is home

…and the earth becomes my throne
I adapt to the unknown
under wandering stars I’ve grown
by myself but not alone
I ask no one

…and my ties are severed clean
the less I have the more I gain
off the beaten path I reign
rover wanderer
nomad vagabond
call me what you will

but I’ll take my time anywhere
I’m free to speak my mind anywhere
and I’ll never mind anywhere
anywhere I roam
where I lay my head is home

but i’ll take my time anywhere
free to speak my mind
and I’ll take my find anywhere
anywhere I roam
where I lay my head is home

carved upon my stone
my body lie, but still I roam
wherever I may roam

April 2005
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