Tuesday, June 06, 2006

If Not Profs, If Not Batchmates, Schrodinger Will Get You

Arjun Singh never studied in an Engineering College, for that matter, in any fiercely competitive professional college, or else he would have thought twice before implementing it.

Take the example of IITs. Not only at the entry level, quotas will have to be implemented at grading level too. I will tell you why.

In my batch, in the year 1995, there were about 350 students. Imagine this scenario, which I am sure Arjun Singh hasn't. In our classes in school, there were always two or three studs who would always take rank 1,2,3 between them.

Below them, competition gradually eases down, and after rank 10 - almost all are at level play field. So normal students escape the heat generated by top 3-4, and bask in the glory of topping the rest of the also rans.

Not like this in IIT. Most of the guys and girls who get in had been in top 3-4 in their respective classes. Then there are icings on the cakes in the form of Math/Physics Olympiad Medallists, State Board Toppers, ICSE Toppers, National Talent Search Examination selections and so on.

So you see, there are no also rans. Certainly not the above ones. But as they say - Kabul Mein Bhi Gadhe Hote Hain, there are also people like me. I was an inconsistent 8th ranker in my class. Never above that, and often below that.

However, if you consider only Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computers - I would move, perhaps, three and four notches above, but not any further.

And when you are left with an army of super intelligent, fiercely competitive, and hard working 350 individuals who spend less time in the hostel, and more in the Lecture Halls, Tutorials, and Libraries - its akin to leave a sacrificial lamb before hungry lions.

As if this was not enough, there are profs. They come in all colours nasty, smirking, sadist, even scheming. Good natured ones are very few and far in between. They may take a surprise quiz immediately after a Rakshabandhan, or they may set midsemester exams right after Diwali day. Their most potent weapon till date - an open book exam.

An open book exam simply means - Aukat Ho To Ker Ke Dikhao!

Now comes the curriculum. I will put before you some bare facts. The three-year chemistry course taught in BSC is crammed into one semester course. Physics is crammed in two semesters, and Mathematics in three.

The very first lecture in Chemistry will introduce you to Schrondinger, and his equation E Shi = H Shi. Now you would say Shi Shi cancel Ho Gaya, and E = H, but its not like that. I don't know what it was even now. No, I didn't forget - I simply never knew.

Schrodinger was not the lone tormenter. Louis Pascal had his say in every field. Then there were Green's Theorem, Langley Theorem, Stoke's Theorem, Linear Algebra, Complex Algebra, Mechanics Of Solid - so on and so fourth for four fast & furious years.

And the grading would be relative. There were no absolutes. Even if you scored 80%, you might be at the bottom. Not that you ever scored that much. When I first got 18 out 40 in my first physics paper, I cried in my room. Later I heard that the class average was 15, so I was above average. That's the story there.

Still, I would say - I survived, and survived honourably. But there are many who can't. Even after legitimately cracking IIT-JEE. There are many terminations, probabtions every year.

And those who get through quotas are put in slow pace, that is they pass B.Tech in five years instead of four. Still many can't because, though number of course per semester decrease, they are graded along with non-quota guys.

So when these 50% quota will get implemented, that would not be enough. Life behind the gates is even more tough. How would Arjun Singh ease that? Perhaps quota at the grading level too because for Schrodinger everyone is equal!

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