Friday, June 20, 2008

Matric fail मँट्रीक फेल

There is a very disgusting ad doing the rounds on television these days. Contrary to what most suspect, it has nothing to do with displaying maximum parts of the female human anatomy with minimum clothes.

It advertises some energy saving CFL bulbs being marketed by what I thought, was one of India's leading IT companies(Wipro), who was, or maybe is, also involved with soap. As in washing, not operas.

So what is disgusting ?

A very presumptuous, money minded man, talks down derisively to a slightly older, supposedly uneducated, confused man, to tell him that the energy saving capabilities of the CFL bulb were really equivalent to putting money in your savings account. He ridicules the man , treating him like a dumb kid being subject to rote learning, and abuses and addresses him loudly ,as "matric fail", clearly designed to elicit a "laugh" from everyone around including the shopkeeper .

Given the lopsided standards in society today, he succeeds. I wonder what the company is trying to tell us besides the wonders of the CFL bulb.

What else is to be expected, in a society, where education has become such a business, that we now have, a category called "education moghuls" or "shikshan maharshi", patronized by those in politics who acquire cheap government land with spurious lofty intentions, and then build their "empires" fuelled and funded by outrageous fees charged from students , and never mind that several families may have just denied their current generation their own house , lost their ancestral land , denied a similar chance to their female offspring, or gone into debt, all under the pressure that "this admission was a must".....

What else is to be expected in a country where ability to threaten is often accepted as a management technique to be employed in communicating with examiners , currency notes are often stapled to examination answer books; come march-april, newspapers are replete with stories of how some invigilator was bashed up because he tried to forbid some guys from passing examination answers from outside a window to students inside, and june simply sees newspapers full of details of students who end their lives because they couldn't face failure and parents at the same time..........

What do you say about a place where an all-round brilliant student was once docked marks in national board exams, because he dared to solve the a mathematical problem in an innovative way, (way beyond the comprehension of those Kings of By-heart who go into a tizzy just seeing an English spelling, wrongly, but logically phonetically written), the concerned parents who brought in experts to prove their child's point were successful, and the parents politely refused when they were asked to make an "application" to have the child declared a topper in an exam he had topped anyway...........

What else is to be expected when authorities act as if education is only about college, and in the meanwhile, schools in remote parts of the state close down because the money sanctioned for repair of the roof of the single room primary school building, never reaches there, and materialises as a motorcycle for some one's son, who probably couldn't spell "truth" if he was asked......

What is to be expected by sets of parents so brainwashed by the rote form of learning, the neighbour's child's success, and intricacies and movement of the decimal system in the 90th percentile of marks, that they ridicule their child who is a gifted artist and or sportsman, reacting to low marks by acquiring into a plethora of mental ailments which they then pass on to their children , only to benefit a breed of counsellors and psychiatrists that has since become very prominent....

Does being "matric" imbibe you with common sense , or a halo of brilliance ?

For some people ,the answer is a resounding NO.

In my childhood, there were many women, who had studied only up to the class 7, prevalent in those days; sometimes due to brothers reaping most of the family resource benefits, and sometimes due to financial,societal or geographical constraints.

Some of these folks were mothers, some were grandmothers, not very "educated " in the formal sense. But their sense of the greening of the environment, their natural abilities in energy saving in most of their household activities, their understanding of economics in the home, and handling of family members with differing mental and physical abilities could teach today's educators a thing or two. This knowledge was never hoarded, kept secret, or sold. it was available to those who looked like they could use it.

They didn't have degrees in liberal arts or sciences, but were able to relate what they learnt to day-to-day matters of living, problems and all.

And lets not restrict it to the female of the species.

A lot of the men then, made their careers by being clerks, after some kind of basic education. Matriculation was mostly a function of the other requirements and needs within the immediate family, based on everyone's health and monetary situations. Being a matric didn't mean you calculated things faster, or read faster. It meant you qualified for a job in places like the government , where matriculation was a weeding process for others rather than selection process for you.

Today my "uneducated household help" , who operates her bank account with an inked thumb impression, can calculate things faster than some people I know . Her son, who probably classifies as an aforementioned "matric fail", runs a fresh vegetable stall, and is yet to be cheated by anyone, including some educated types. He married a "matric pass" girl, who, after having 2 kids , wanted to do a state government computer skills course, and it was her , so called, first-grade-fail mother-in-law , who enthusiastically stood behind her, offering to manage the kids, thereby sending a message to her sons.

Unfortunately, the prevalent thought today is that education ends with a degree; you pay for it, you get it; if you don't have a degree, you are not only unfortunate, you are stupid. Doesn't matter if you don't end up learning. You need a stamp, a label. And forget your aptitudes, your native intelligence, and special capabilities. Green doesn't mean trees, it means money, like the currency notes the "educated" man flashes in the ad, and the disgustingly subservient look on the face of the other.

And so the man in the Wipro CFL bulb ad, epidermically thickened after being derisively addressed by the so called successful, moneyed, arithmetically-enabled disgusting non-gentleman, will go home, install the bulb, and try to use the "savings" to build up a fund to send his son to some outrageously expensive coaching classes, so no one , can, EVER, call his son a MATRIC FAIL.

Deep down , somewhere , it hurts.

P. S. Does someone in Wipro actually see what ads they are putting up?


  1. Thank you once again for this enlightening piece, I do agree with you and I had the previlege to visit some of this instituations in Hyderabad where there churn out students sitting for the qualification exams and it was like a prison. They don't have any life at all except the 4 walls and mugging or memorising from the books. Now tell me what kinda of student would you produce? I was there because my accountant wanted to build a 5 storey building(on his ancestorial land right in the heart of city) and wanted to rent it on a long lease to these tycoons who run these instituations. I can tell you it's really a money churning business. Parents are willing to sacrifice everything that they have to put their children into even LKG these days but at the end what you get is high collared criminals with innovative ways in committing crimes and if you see the criminals they all do have a string of degrees. I guess a Matric graduate is more honest and simple minded.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog and I must say that your blog is simply amazing. The posts are so thought-provoking, with insight and humour...and extremely interesting for me, because I'm a non-Maharashtrian living in Mumbai for the past few years. I loved the details of the traditional pangat, your driving license tales, the dog who dogged the runway, and this brillaint invective against thoughtless, supercilious advertising. I'm added you to my bloglist, the pleasure of reading your posts is addictive.

  3. Sucharita, thank you for the kind words. Like the Scientific American recently published, Blogging is therapeutic. When one gets angry with something , blogging is an ideal outlet.

    Mr Sukku, yes, I have also heard about the "education" factories churning out "brilliant students " in Hyderabad. I am so relieved that I am NOT a student today.......

  4. Hi Sucharita and Ms ugich,

    Well I know how difficult it was competing with the factory outlets in REC Warangal, where I did my Engineering on foreigners quota, I didn't know then but only recently when I went to the factory...hahahaha..well I wasn't one of the toppers, just scrapped by but I guess I am doing well as I am stationed abroad that is in Hyderabad and would be posted back home soon and overseeing South Africa too as my new assignment from end July 2008 onwards.

    You are right about blogging, it's like the safety valve on the pressure cooker.........hisssssssssss.....