System and Me

In & Out



I wish to write a succinct rant over our system and well, mainstream Indian literature.

Don’t worry. I come not to bury the force that comprises mainstream Indian literature, for I do not intend to throw further dishonour upon a name that is constantly sullied by you, me and that pseudo – intellectual critiquing this article while picking his nose. The very same person who, between periods of judging the literary capabilities of other people, howls with consummate delight at the framework of our national mindset.

You do know who we’re talking about? Nothing vague about the subject? Very well, let us proceed with my rant.

We judge this small group of writers today, who write about the mistakes made, the love found and the lessons learnt during their ‘youth’, for the fact that they play to the masses with this content. But wait, that makes no sense. They’re not the only ones guilty of this. As a matter of fact, everybody plays to the masses because according to them, any person is as solid and relevant as his sales, which honestly seems to be a pretty correct logic. We have grown up to believe that the only true barometer of success is our education and our salaries. We are the fallout. Our degrees and out ‘professional skill – sets’ are our chevrons, the only things worthy to be put on a plaque, almost our entire human worth.


Curiosity and creativity in schools are useful only as far as they help you beat that other person in the class who plays a lot of sports.

Slowly, and often, painfully, you move forward. And while moving forward, you might as well get confused. If you’re one of those people who gets confused, as over 9,00,000 kids every year are, you will study for the JEEs, the AIEEEs, COMEDK, CLAT and over 13 other similar exams. As you wind down that path, you will meet people who will seem to have completely forsaken any pretence of intellectual curiosity. And these people are doing quite well because of that.

It is completely normal for a youngster to not want to know anything beyond his secluded reality.

Politics and philosophy are meant for charsis. Art and literature are meant for someone who trip too much on LSD.

Literature. Wait, we started this off with literature. I digressed on the way, apologies. We were speaking of mainstream Indian literature. In this country, where for every nerdy kid who had a closet full of graphic novels, or has read The Calcutta Chromosome or Kafka at The Shore by the age of 16, there are 3000 who cannot handle an exposure to any form of alternate reality.

Wait, who would want to read graphic novels, or comic books, in general parlance? They are a strain on the eyes and the young nervous system. They are horror printed on pulp paper. They are only a form of negative literature and are bound to make kids products of juvenile delinquency.

Unless we want a generation more ferocious than the previous one, who can think for themselves, beyond the nine figure salary and a job that turns you into a desk dummy, you ought to keep your children away from any of this.

Let us get back to our topic, mainstream literature. It’s not fantastic. It’s not well – written. Wait, I’m expecting too much when I say this. It’s not even well researched or spell – checked. You cannot expect a 15 year old to read Edgar Allan Poe when he’s studying 18 hours a day to get into a college of repute and damn well knows that most of his peer group is doing the same.

The ability to appreciate and contemplate over fiction, be it in any form, depends solely upon a reader’s ability to conceive or imagine an alternate reality. However, within this disorder of competitiveness that exists within our education system, an alternate reality can be conceived only to the limit of studying in an IIM and having sex with your girlfriend in your room.

We do not need any form of artistic expression. We are happy within the snug comforts of our rooms, gulping 3 mugs of coffee and keeping our heads low under our table lamps, reading that 1500 page Crash Course for Your Competitive Exam textbook.

Let us once again get back to our subject. This is no form of pretentious art; it does not lack any aesthetics. It only represents the worst in us, and does a pretty good job.

How is it not possible for anyone to admire it? That’s exactly how young India thinks. Who do we blame for this? No one, just ourselves. Over the past seven years, I have seen a lot of people, myself included, pass through the formidable gauntlet of Indian competitive exams. I’ll speak for myself. I shrunk into a shell trying to convince myself that the world does not exist beyond the next exam.

There is no point in having a holistic approach towards the world unless you have a group discussion in a management course.

There is no point of reading Murakami or Gaiman in school unless. Oh no wait, there is no point of reading Murakami or Gaiman in school. None.

But our mental wiring is not the only problem you know. It is just one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

So hold your breaths, fellow members of the unease inflicted minority, because you may huff, shriek and tear away at your hair till you’re green from the exhaustion, but this system is here to stay.

Which isn’t a bad thing, for it is the most honourable thing! It is only how your worth will be judged, by your uncles, aunts, parents, neighbours and that distant relative who calls once in a decade to know your CAT percentile.

Photography By: Utkarsh Sinha