ख़ुदाया जज़्बा-ए-दिल की मगर तासीर उल्टी है
कि जितना खींचता हूँ और खिंचता जाए है मुझ से
The desire of my heart, O God has but a contrary effect
More she goes away from me, as more I try to attract
Unity in diversity. A line that finds itself in school textbooks across India. A phrase which has echoed within her classrooms for many decades. Whether it’s a school situated in the misty hills of Arunachal Pradesh, located cozily amidst the puny shade of coconut trees in Tamil Nadu, housed amongst the heritage buildings of South Bombay or one in Leh whose windows offer a splendid view of the unending Himalayas. This unity comes in many shapes and sizes eg. Indian railways, tea/ coffee et. I am going to throw light on one such aspect of unity – the premier educational institutions of India. Everyday millions of Indians burn with the desire to get into its top educational institutes. Following is a sneak peek into the first term of my journey called PGPX at IIM A starting with Term 1. If you happen to be one of those aspirants aiming for WIMWI (the other name by which IIM A goes as well :Well-known Institute of Management in Western India) this article will help quench your curiosity to some extent and may inflame your desire further. Else, you may enjoy voyeuristic pleasure.
The course began with an induction stretched over 3 days. The inaugural address was delivered by Prof. Erol D’Souza, Director followed by Welcome address by Prof. Arindam Banerjee, Chairperson PGPX while the concluding address was delivered by Prof. Shailesh Gandhi, Dean Programmes. Over the subsequent period, the batch was introduced to interesting concepts such as looking within, appreciating differences, working with teams, learning through the cases et.
For my batch i.e. the 14th batch of PGPX a.k.a. x14 the theme was a dark blue IIM A branded polo and jeans. Ironically, some were barely fitting inside it and then there were those who were flaunting it like a championship title. Kudos to diversity.
My Syndi My world (Well, almost)
noun: syndicate; plural noun: syndicates
“a group of individuals or organizations combined to promote a common interest”
An essential component of the PGPX journey is the syndicate groups. The entire batch is divided into groups varying from 6-10 individuals per syndicate. The syndicate (colloquially called syndi here) is a mirror of the diversity of the batch. Each is provided with a separate syndi room plush with all the tools needed for an effective and fruitful discussion (emphasis on the word fruitful). Group assignments, decision sheets are supposed to be cracked by all the syndi (emphasis on the word all) mates and then submitted. My syndi has total 6 members. It’s the syndi I needed and perhaps deserved as well. It can’t get any better. There are 3 married, 2 unmarried guys and 1 semi committed persona here (yes, you got it right, all boys). One has seen 6/7 world wonders and has traveled across the breadth and depths of 21 nations, one has led large teams, one has handled portfolio worth millions of dollars, one has worked for over 15 hours a day in 2 firms out of his passion for blockchain, one is a guru of mental maths and has worked with a much coveted consulting firm. These are my syndi mates. A very important thing that all of us share is our ability to laugh at ourselves, the thing that keeps us going through the gruelling curriculum. Syndi J guys, if you are reading this, I have immense respect for all of you and I am trying to learn something from each one of you.
Observations (Amateurish Philosophy + Psychology + Human Evolution)
I believe that there’s an innate desire which pushes intellectuals to redesign and restructure the society as per their beliefs. The world they have inherited is just too imperfect for them. Prophets, sages, kings, philosophers, politicians and even economists to name a few have tried it again and again. Plato, Confucius, King David, Marx, Hitler, Pol pot…
Closer to home we have Shakyamuni, Asoka, Osho and MK Gandhi et. attempting to create a new society. One wherein people would be live a different life. A life closer to the utopia each thinker had imagined. As Marx envisioned his man to be able to fish in the morning and do critical theory at night, without ever becoming a fisherman or a critic. Everyone had their vision for their new society and the new man.
Following the recommendations of Professor George Robbins of UCLA to the Planning Commission of India, on 11 December 1961 WIMWI was born. Key founders were the Government of India, the Government of Gujarat, Harvard Business School, and prominent members of Indian industry. Physicist Vikram Sarabhai and businessman Kasturbhai Lalbhai, both natives of Ahmedabad, played crucial roles in setting and nurturing it. Ravi J. Matthai who was the first full time director at just 38 years of age, too has influenced WMWI which endures even today.
My experience so far tells me that the founders of WIMWI too had a similar vision. To create a new society within the existing one. To create a new man/woman. The signs are all there, you have to observe (and not just see). As they say you have to read between the lines here you need to read between the red bricks. For instance, the clocks in the classrooms depict seconds along with the hour and minutes, the library is open 24X7, some professors have a habit of closing and locking the doors as soon as the clock says start. Sometimes I also wonder whether I and my batch-mates are a part of some grand experiment. As for the creation of a new society, my take is they have been largely successful but when it comes to creating a new man/ woman well at least in my case, all I can say is time will tell.
The current batch comprises of 140 people with diverse backgrounds with experience ranging from Agriculture to Nuclear power from Economics to Petroleum Engineering and from Dentistry to Start-Ups and a lot more industries. Some have left their high flying careers in developed countries to pursue PGPX. Thus, with almost a nano India around you, conversations get really interesting. They range from the beauty of the opening scene in Lawrence of Arabia to how a friends’ friend turned from a tiger eater to a tiger conserver, how Japanese toilets are the best place as a creative stimulant to how to start your own NGO post the course. From how silly of SRK to have fooled his wife in the movie Rab Ne… to how a colleague had a choice between joining ULFA and OIL Ltd. and he chose the latter. The list is endless and so is the brain stimulation…
आगे आती थी हाल-ए-दिल पे हँसी
अब किसी बात पर नहीं आती
हम वहाँ हैं जहाँ से हम को भी
कुछ हमारी ख़बर नहीं आती
Earlier my heart could beguile me a while
Now, nothing can make me smile
I am at a place where about myself too
I hardly ever get a clue
This will be short, at least for this piece. I wanted to get into IIT because most of my friends wanted to get into IITs. But, I couldn’t crack the IIT-JEE. Hence, I secured admission to Govt. College of Engineering, Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Immediately post my engineering I wanted to do MBA from a top tier college because I wanted to start my own venture. I couldn’t crack the CAT. But, I did start a software start-up with 2 other friends. After 3.5 years of ups and downs, mostly downs in the business, we had to shut it down. It was a grand failure. I am a lot more than what these lines depict. But, for the time being enough exposes about me and my failures 🙂
There’s a river of classes, assignments, cases, quizzes, exams and most importantly concepts that separate the 2 pics (Harvard steps and the one above). They were taken after a gap of almost 1.5 months. The first pic was taken on the very first day of induction while the second was taken post the last exam of Term 1. But, we are yet to see the ocean aka Term 2 in this context. Lets see whether we sink or swim…
P.S. As I peep through my window, I see clouds gathering over my hometown, a much needed respite from the usual scorching hot weather. But, these are not monsoon formations, they are still one week away at least. That’s a long and arduous wait for a region reeling under severe drought. One of the largest dams in India lies ~ 60 Km away from me. Its less than 1% full. Water is being scrapped out using suction pumps. Similar situation persists across Maharashtra. We need rain lots of it.
Coming back to the controllables, I started this blog with a sher by Ghalib. But, what’s the context, you must be wondering ? Is it a message for someone? But, why would I publish it in a public forum and also when its of no use to the rest. So, what does it signify? Maybe a clue to approaching the course. One thing I can say with certainty is it carries significance, especially for future PGPXians. Well, you will have to be a bit patient and wait. I will soon unravel the mystery in the upcoming blog.
Also, in an unfortunate set of events, the semi committed status of my friend has been reset to single. Thus, I would like to take your leave for now with one of my favourite quotes by Steven Weinberg “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless”…
I would like to thank Suhani Jain ( Student, PGPX 2019-20 ) for crisply editing this blog amidst the demanding schedule. It wouldn’t have been easy to get my message across neatly without her help.