Monday, July 14, 2008

On College

The following post is about St.Stephen's Colllege, Delhi University. A College which I attended and where I got some sort of an education, but more importantly, the college where I made several close friends and learned more about everything else than about life. A college where I discovered acid, pot and binge drinking but when which opened my horizons of music, manga, literature, science and even friendship. This is not about the media, this is about a place I felt strongly, and a place that has been ruined over the past half-decade.
If you don't want to read on, your call.
Despite the fact that I do not agree with her politics, Barkha Dutt is a proud college student and her column in HT Saturday about college is wonderfully well written. It is difficult not to feel a tinge of regret about St.Stephen's today. The 'mafia of bishops' as Barkha call it have ruined college with a heady cocktail of puritanism and insanity. College is not a great 'educational' institution, it might have been but the quality of education imparted at least in the late nineties was patchy to say the least. My biggest learning in third year was that Bill Bryson is a great author - he wasn't on the course by the way, but a teacher used to read passages from 'A Walk in the Woods' out in class. College was always about everybody else, smoking pot and discussing the plausibility and contradictions of time travel with my berst friend who was in Philo Hons. on the rear balcony of Muk East before APD screamed at us for making a racket at two in the morning. Getting plastered on Grad Dinner afternoon with god knows what.
The rot started in 1999-2000, after 2001 things started to go down the drain when a puritanical regime came into place in Residence. This isn't about tank-tops and baniyans, this was about everything. Forget cheap Mall Road pot, when MS Frank took over as Block Tutor in Muk West, he cracked down on non-block students staying there. I was in my friend Thakur's room in W-Block at around 10.30 at night just yakking about some shit, when Frank came and tried to chase me out. But I didn't go, and the man threatened to suspend me. For talking. At night!
His actions today should not be seen as out of character. The man is so mad, that after he suspended Nana ('No Dogs or Franks allowed' was written on his door), a couple of other folks (manyDosco's among them - many of whom are high-level i-bankers today) sent him a gift pack of shit. Other one was the plastering of Muk West's walls with hardcore porn pictures because the man once confiscated 'wanking' material - this was a boy's block full of 17-20 year olds what did you expectMost block tutors were nice guys, guys you could have a drink with, but Frank was an idiot. I didn't realise that he wanted to deliver the body blow to college.
Please reserve seats for members of your community, but do not do this at the cost of the institution, which is what is happening today. There are some of those who want to build a brand new institution standing for excellence in education. These grads include several successful entreprenuers, bureaucrats, journalists and bankers. I'm fairly close to some of these people and I thought that they were mad initially, but when it comes to the madness stakes, the 'mafia' is truly miles ahead today.


Anonymous said...

Hey K, any news about that stephens friend of yours who got kidnapped???

Anonymous said...

As a person who is quite senior to you in the media, please allow me to subnit a note of dissent about your observation that Barkha's article "...wonderfully well written".

What do you make of the sentence in her piece that runs "Two ministers in the present union cabinet � India�s foreign secretary and the head of the country�s Planning Commission � are all Stephanians"?

Clearly she does not know that information in parentheses -- or between hyphens -- is some additional statement about the original subject -- in this case the two ministers -- who preceded you and Barkha to St. Stephens. The way Barkha has written it connotes that one of the two cabinet ministers being referred to is the union foreign secretary and the other heads the Planning Commission. You should have noted Barkha's mistake on this count as well.

As stipulated by the Constitution, the Prime Minister of India is, ex-officio, the head of the Planning Commission. He is not from St. Stephens.

The overall trouble with a journalist like Barkha is that she has simply not gone through the editorial discipline that instils the consistency and discipline that are essential for any columnist. There is very little merit to her breast-beating communication style; and I daresay that her presence in the editorial pages of EchTee owes to some other talent.

The important thing is that young journalists can often err in thinking that just because there are increased opportunities of sounding their opinion; they would be naturally good in doing so. It is a danger that even you can trip into. I say this as a person for whom reading your blog has become a habit -- even though I studied in the college across the road, and trained as a writer under vastly superior editors including your father.