This post was in the back of my mind ever since I left the Centenary Hall of Madras University last Friday evening. The occasion was the 34th convocation of Anna University and the chief guest was the CM. The visit of the chief guest ensured that the security detail was a nightmare but this post is not entirely about that nightmare but something that made me think long and hard.
There were 600 graduands (learnt this there) awaiting their degree that conferred the title of Doctor of Philosophy on them. The better half was one in that 600 and the only reason I ventured into the hall. A Ph D is the culmination of a long period of study that not many take up for various reasons but the minimum time should be around twelve years of schooling, three years of undergraduate followed by two years of post-graduate study which will lead to five or so years of research before one becomes a doctor. So it is one long and usually rigorous process.
You would expect that education will make you a better person, after all ever one wants to become educated causing good schools and colleges to turn away prospective students for want of capacity. Education may give a person many things, the foremost being a career and in the search for a job it appears that either the students are distilling and imbibing only that which is useful to land a job or the institutions are providing only the diluted content and ignoring that they should turn out a well-rounded individual.
If I sound incoherent, it is because the appalling behaviour that was exhibited by some of these “doctors-in waiting” at the convocation made me cringe. Rank indiscipline, lack of basic courtesy, and complete lack of decorum at a time when people are taking time off to honour them for their academic efforts made me wonder if it is worth the effort. Despite repeated pleas by a professor on the mike to take their seats, these graduands in their robes ignored the requests and continued walking around the hall looking for their family members to show the degree that will be given to them after the rehearsal. Nothing worked for these idiots, public requests on the mike or instructions by the volunteers, made me wonder if mature adults need this kind of spoon feeding.
Then after the event the mad rush for the snacks and the photographs, pushing and shoving their way through not caring whether a man or child was in their way. Some of them after eating dump the boxes outside the garbage bins placed there. If this was not enough the Vice Chancellor seemed to struggle to read the speech that unfortunately for him was printed and given to everyone. Cringing at the mistakes and feeling bad that this may reflect on the state of the esteemed university left me worried. I do not have a problem if someone has a challenge with the English language, I feel bad that not enough time was given to rehearse the speech to remove challenges.
The silver lining to the dark cloud was the speech by the Chief Minister. I am not a fan but I grudgingly must accept that the speech was good. The speech may be written by a spin doctor from the back room but it requires skill to deliver it well and here the schooling shone out. A distinguished alumnus of the Sacred Heart Matriculation, she used big words which though very suitable and appropriate have layman’s synonyms.
Maybe the idiots I wrote about earlier did not have good schooling or maybe they never paid attention to what was taught or maybe they were not taught the finer things in life or maybe they do not care that decency is a by-product of education, or maybe they are simply not aware, some people are no better that those education passed by.
Schooling starts at home, maybe they had good teachers but maybe their parents were not good enough.
And that folks is an unexpected post number 100 for this year. I was stuck at the nineties especially on 99 for some time suffering an acute writer’s block which coupled with the early start to the Christmas season has kept me away.