Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Anil Wilson = Matyr, Me = Huh?

This is a blog where I bitch about the media, my dearly beloved profession and whil this post explores some of the deepest darkest politics of St Stephen's College, it also highlights how the media - from bleeding heart liberals in NDTV and the Indian Express to the commercially minded sycophants in the Times of India have made Anil Wilson, of all people a Matyr.
Now, before some of you ask who the fuck is Anil Wilson, I'll answer that question. Anil Wilson is the Principal of St Stephen's College, Delhi University. SSC is north India's most renowned college by miles. It is a seat of learning (hah!) and power where thousands of bureaucrats, politicians, diplomats, journalists, academics, businessmen, film-stars have all gone through. I spent three years of my life, which in retrospect seem like a pot-filled haze in that college, the last two years in a place called 'Residence' something which most other people will call a dorm or hostel. But at Stephen's we were different. We lived in this aura of snobbishness, an aura of invincibility - we were Stephanians after all. Not all of us, actually only the sad day-scholars lived like that, as I said I was usually too stoned to notice. When I wasn't stoned I was either - scoring stuff to get stoned, trying my hand in a Shakespeare play (and making an ass of myself in the process), Quizzing (and thus sustaining my stoning and drinking) and maybe attending classes (not too many of those). I had no time to be snobbish. The women came and went and were incidental to the entire plot.
As usual, I have gone off on a tangential digression. Just talking about college connects synapses that have not been fired in six years.
Anyway, on Thursday Anal Willie, as we call the old man, quits. He claims that Bishop Karam Masih, the head of the college's Supreme Council had 'put pressure' on him to admit some jeweller's daughter. Now, in yesterday's post, I mentioned that Willie was a very sweet guy to me as he allowed me to sit my third year exam without me having to crawl and beg him for permission. I will honestly admit that by no logic should I have been allowed to give that exam, because my 'real' attendance was attrocious. I had struck deals with some teachers for attendance and was ready to give a potential Oscar winning performance in Willie's room for permission to sit my exam. However, I never did go to Willie's room, Dr Anil Wilson, for whatever reason allowed me to sit the exam.
Three years ago, in that room with portraits of CF Andrews and Samuel Scott Allnutt looking down, Wilson with his walrus inspired moustache was interviewing me for admission into college. I can safely admit that both my father and my mother had left no stone unturned to ensure that I made it through. But that was only after the cut-off for the interview was declared. I had safely made it through the cut-off and had enough credentials to get through. But, in SSC its not always who you are, its whose you are. Whose son/daughter/sister/brother/niece/nephew you are? That way, I could hardly be faulted. The 'whose' I was, was and remains an extremely influential personality. So admission, like it or not was a cinch. The same day as my interview my mother met many other such 'whose' who she remembered from years ago also getting their tots into college. The interview was always regarded as a joke, a method of weeding out the 'desirables' from the 'undesirables' - in SSC next to Rohtas' Dhaba on any given day you had the sons and daughters of at least one prominent editor, several bureaucrats, even more politicians and the occasional businessman and academic. So what is this controversy all about because the St Stephen's College admission procedure was always fucked and remains fucked, and this is from a person who benefited from such a fucked procedure. Its about politics, high-level politics.
Now, this Bishop Masih seems to be upset that Anil Wilson is not admitting as many Christians as he can. Wilson can admit 50 per cent of the intake as Christian's, but only admits 30-odd percent claims the Bishop. This year, some Christian students denied admission took the matter to court, I don't know what happened to the case but I believe they lost - because the college can enforce this quota on their discretion. And with so many desirable kids to admit, and so few seats wht does the Prinicipal do?
Also, I hear that during the 125th anniversay of college, certain individuals like the Bishop were sidelined. It became a Willie and Willie show. There was also the issue that certain individuals instead of going through the right channels for admission - HoD's, former students, and even Wilson were short-circuiting the process and accessing the Bishop with promises of donations to the Church of North India (CNI). Now, I am not insinuating that anyone involved in the admission procedure is corrupt, but with a non-transparent admission procedure there are extreme risks of people becoming morally or financially corrupt.
Willie was always accused of being a tight-ass. There is the admission issue, there is the sexual harassment committee issue with Nandy Narain and there are several hundred students issues. So how to defend yourself in this sitaution? Pull off a political masterstroke, become a matyr. And Willie has done that to such superb effect that everyone has forgotten the other problems. So what if a couple of ad-hoc teachers will get fired in the process, Wilson was a good operator. He survived 16 years as Principal of SSC he has to be, but I never thought that he could be so brilliant. In the process, you sideline all other issues, everything, make the Bishop look like a conniving jackass and get yourself appointed for life too. Plus, pull in all the favours you can, after all you did get half of NDTV admitted into SSC once upon a time, and because most of them were day-scholars they won't remember incidents involving boxes of turd and that asshole Frank. Nope, becoming a matyr on the altar of conscience is very easy to do.
The Supreme Council will never accpt his resignation. And in a weird sort of way, I hope they don't because if they do they will appoint a fundamentalist Christian in charge of college. And whatever you might say about Dr Anil Wilson, he is a secular man and St Stephen's must remain a secular college. So what we have here is a damn and be damned situation. Wilson is no angel, and nor is he a matyr. He has changed college for better or for worse. But, I would rather have him around than have other wacko's. But, I do believe that the admission must be made more transparent for the future viability of college. Make SSC a meritocracy as it was in the 60's and 70's. Make sure the best get admission, but then again in an era where half the world gets 99 per cent in the CBSE boards how easy will that be? I don't think it will be easy at all, but changes must be made if SSC is to continue producing some of India's best and brightest.
All I can do now is pray that St Stephen's survives this politics of matyrdom. Ironically, this college is named after the first Christian matyr.
Ad Dei Gloriam.


Anonymous said...

Ol' chap, you don't give an exam...you take it. And funny, a secular college for the Haves! I want SSC to change, but it shouldn't forget its roots.

enjoy reading your blog.

Yohan said...

This issue is getting murkier and murkier. Valson Thampu's comments shocked me.
(He's the former chaplain I had so much respect for...I dont know what to think any more!)

He had some rather bad things to say about the archbiship himself. Of course, he hates Willie. During his farewell service in the chapel Willie described him as a friend. Later on a few of us were talking to Thampu, when he said "I don't know how someone can stand up in a chapel and lie." He also said that some people derive all their worth from their chair.

Ouch. But what he said about the Bishop (not sure which one) was hardcore. 5 new cars in 5 years. Hullo.

And now he claims that Willie's bringing this up is against the community???? I'm a member of the "community" and I say this:
The community be damned. Let's have some honesty an clarity.

The ideal principal would be an Old Stephanian. Preferably from the seventies.

Anonymous said...

bloody wonderful!!! :) i loved reading ur blog.. both the thampu and this ones... i m in stephen's first year.. wud luv to noe more abt nandy, frank etc...do write sumthin abt dem too...

thanks and continue wid the gr8 work

Anonymous said...

heard mr anil wilson died afew days ago.you are the best person it seems to pay atribute to him.waiting to hear from you.....