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Saturday, March 19, 2011

It is a Diploma... :)


The hall was packed as Chadda and I entered. 

I could not believe my eyes, there were nearly 60 students in the auditorium. Chadda was scanning for a place to sit and saw the middle row was unoccupied, started navigating towards it. The seat was bang in front of the elevated podium. 

Chadda as usual was silent and just sat with a calm look on his face waiting for the session to begin. 

My mind however was unsettled seeing the humongous space.

We were here in an introductory session of “achievers workshop “organized by IMS India Private limited. IMS was one of the leading institutes that provided coaching for cracking CAT - the most respected aptitude exams for anyone aspiring to enter into the realms of management. Of course managerial aptitude was the last in anybody’s mind when they decided to go in for CAT. 

Almost all (including me) just saw the media splashing news about the skyrocketing pay to many at IIMS and saw it as a nice way to grow up in scale. Almost all get sick of engineering when they enter the final year and MBA offered an attractive escape route for many to get a respectable life in an economy where engineers were dime a dozen. And the nice ratio of 70% of the intake being engineers further made it the logical choice for many techies.

I was of course one among the crowd. 

Chadda however was from the topmost colleges in the country. We had both gone in for CAT and he had ended up with a top score, I on the other hand had cemented my mediocrity with an average score, but nowhere near to getting into the IIMS. 

Strictly speaking this session was only for the high scorers who where enrolled at IMS .I just classified on the second count! But still Chadda insisted that we both attend the introductory session as our knowledge of management was just limited to fancy terms we had both gobbled up at some point in our graduation.

The session was supposed to educate us on various aspects of management and the road ahead that is what to expect in the second round of selection, the group discussions and the personal interview. The session would be handled by some Paresh, an MBA himself majoring in Human Resource management.

I glanced at my watch and, it was still 15 minutes for the lecture to begin. 

People were still trickling down in ones and twos. A girl dressed in the traditional salwaar kameez and a beaded jhola bag made it to our row and asked,” Is this seat taken? “

I shook my head and she slid into the seat adjacent to me, undid her bag took out a register and pen and stared ahead with a serious expression.

Bored I said,”Srikant”, “Varsha ‘she replied back.

“So what’s your expected score?” I asked.” I might just about get a call from one the IIMs maybe Indore .I did well in verbal section but messed up the quantitative section.” , she replied.”

 “What about you? “ Just ok in all the sections did slightly well in verbal.” 

This elicited a smile from her, we were companions she thought .

So what is your background “mechanical engineering”, I replied. The smile died away replaced by a frosty “I see “.I was nonplussed at the sudden change in her demeanor. And what about you “literature honors, DU.” “Oh that’s nice” I said, being an avid bibliophile I looked up at anything related to them.

” Must be nice reading up for a specialization, “I added. She stared back and replied,” What so nice?  Nobody gives a damm about literature and I did not have mathematics like you guys. And I had to work very hard to get myself up for CAT, thanks to the tough competition given by you guys.” 

Oho this madam is all messed up. And I wasn’t exactly an ideal mascot for the engineering tribe. I was about to correct her when there was a sudden silence

Shifting focus I looked up and saw a squat short bespectacled man dressed in slippers and a faded shirt a size too large for him .He was avidly gazing at the crowd, with a large smile on his face. 

I caught his eye and his smile widened. Puzzled, I nodded my head .Why is he so happy I thought and nudged Chadda .

Chadda, as usual knew what I was thinking and being the cynic he said , ” If you were there giving gyaan for a couple of hours, for a nice pay wouldn’t you be happy? “He mouthed turning to me.

“Good Morning to all “boomed Paresh’s voice .All noises ceased. “ First of all I would like to congratulate you all for doing well in the first round “.

I slid away from focus feeling slightly guilty. “However the road ahead is even tougher “continued Paresh. “And through this session I would just like to highlight some of the important aspects with respect to a management education.”

Paresh launched into an introduction of himself. He had passed out from XLRI more than 10 years back, been a HR guy for Maruti for about 5 years and then quit. He skimmed on the part of being out of Maruti. But the gist seemed that he had messed up something out there and predictably he turned the tables on Maruti for the incident. Then he fished out an article dealing with the life of corporate, the business managers of large MNCs.

“It is not about money, “he droned on.” If you are good at something don’t chase money keep doing it and money will chase you “.Aha this gyaan now seems interesting. What I am good at, I thought inwardly. Well am good at reading and public speaking, debating and all. 

Then I though about playing tabla I am good at that too. 

So then do I spend my life debating and playing tabla? 

The mental picture of beating a tabla and shouting vehemently did not look very good. I shook my head, it’s no good .These culture specific activities are for the financially well off. Middle incomes like us had to find a way to get regular food on the table .Maybe later I though once in a good job and good money I can do all that. But something told me that it would never happen.

Snapping out of the internal though process I focused on the session again. Paresh was reading from a piece of paper, what he called the typical life a big shot manager.” Armed with a two year diploma in hand, techno-mangers brace themselves to enter the realms of management. Most venture into the domain of investment banks where the big bucks are. They put in demanding 13-15 hour workdays and no holidays. For money they forget their family .In the relentless pursuit to reach the top they upset the delicate balance of work and life. After a couple of years they realize that they have nothing in life save a pot of money and fancy material comforts.” Paresh paused and looked up. 

The entire class was staring at him with utmost seriousness. I glanced around all too mindful of the effect Paresh had created. For a minute even I felt the futility of all education. A quick look around I noticed a burly Delhite, scribbling furiously.

I nudged Chadda again and he replied “, that’s Gurdeep, he is from my college, pretty serious most of the times and always taking notes.” Meanwhile Paresh returned the piece to his packet with a satisfied smile.

“So, what do all you budding managers think about this article. I personally think it has a very valid point. I urge you all to consider very carefully before taking any career decision. And with that I would like to conclude the session. Are there any questions? , said Paresh. 

All looked around expectantly, I involuntarily turned to the sardar who still looked lost in what he had just written. Then with a determined expression he raise his hand .Paresh said yes , the sardar stood up all 6 foot and some inches’ of him , took the mike as it was passed to him and said “ Sir, myself Gurdeep,in light of what you have just said, I would like to know if IIMs offer a degree or a diploma.”

There was pin drop silence after this statement.

Paresh looked like he had been handed a hot pan and did not know whether to hold it or drop it.

Suddenly there was a snort of laughter from someplace, a giggle broke out another place and a full blow laugh escaped me. That was it; the entire group started laughing uncontrollably. Even Paresh‘s lips went up a bit, in what seemed to be a hint of a smile.

 I looked at Varsha even she was laughing, the serious expression gone from her face. 

She leaned toward me and whispered, “Now I know all engineers are not alike,”.I added,

”You may never know some may be even good at literature,” and gave her a wink.

3 comments:

TDM said...

ha ha ............IMS workshop n wannabe MBAs. gud one

btw why no Ts in though(t)s...... accident or is there an habit forming??

Srikant Rajan said...

Hi Mahesh, not sure what you mean by "though(t)s", "t" is there in thought in this write up :)

TDM said...

"Then I though about playing tabla I am good at that too."
"Maybe later I though once in a good job and good money I can do all that..."

a couple of places where i spotted