(This article is available in Polish here)
“Have the match-making aunties started making a queue outside your home?”, I asked my friend, who was passing out of IIT.
“Yeah. A lot of proposals have already come. My mom is handling all that stuff”
“Have you been booked already?”
A question kept buzzing in my head.
I asked him hesitantly,” You will not be taking dowry, right?”
After a few moments of awkward silence,
He said,” My parents want to me take it. I can’t go against their wishes”
A bitter feeling of disgust enveloped me.
I wanted to say, “After all this education, in supposedly, one of the most prestigious institutes in the country, you are consciously making a choice to be complicit in the perpetuation of a hideous social evil”
I couldn’t. I knew he had no answer, except a few helpless shrugs. I shifted the talk towards movies and cricket- the binding force of Indians.
This was a conversation, that surfaced on my memory, when I read this article, where a website has been created for potential bridegrooms and brides who studied in prestigious institutions (IITs, IIMs etc)
This was, to me, a digitization of what IIT/IIMs have always meant to me. A stairway to exclusion. This is not an exclusion that is blotted by any hint of guilt. This is an exclusion that is celebrated. This is an exclusion that is to be proud of. This is an exclusion most middle-class and above Indians fetishize about.
Yes, IIT is a fetish of Indian middle class.
IIT is a dream many children are forced to dream from as early as 6th standard. IIT is a destination that imprisons children in corporate ghettos where education is completely stripped of its essence and a homogenous cuisine, comprising Maths, Physics, Chemistry, is consistently shoved down the throats of students. IIT is a protective cover that shields children from the distractions of society, culture, sports, arts etc which hinder their path to ‘success’.
IIT is the question. IIT is the answer.
IIT is everything. IIT is everyone.
The personalities dwarfed by this complex pedagogic process internalize the exceptionality of their existence that they were made to believe since long, and the confusion of adolescence mutates into an extra-terrestrial arrogance and apathy. They begin to enjoy the social status the society blindly bestows on them. They walk up the stairway, step after step, year after year, until they reach the zenith of elitism. Comfortably placed in that bubble, tightly packed in their gated communities, they flash their tags of meritocracy.
Marriage is an ingenious institution in this country to maintain caste,class and gender hierarchies. The process of selection of potential brides is a profoundly racist , casteist ,classist and sexist endeavour. That marriage should be built on the foundations of love and empathy is an alien concept here. One word that is most misused in this context is ‘wavelength’ – which essentially is an euphemism for ” Is the woman white enough? Is the woman’s ‘character’ alright? Is she one of those feminist-types? Is this relation caste and class compatible?…..” and other regressive questions.
IITians and IIM students just intensify the ingredient of elitism in an already flawed marital system.
There is a false sense of assurance provided by some folks in the article that through this website the focus would be shifted to education rather caste and religion etc. This is a highly misleading and a false illusion, just like some Indians who believe globalization would lead to dismantling of regional and feudal disparities, and we know how that is working out. This is just an effort to make it easier for these people to find a person of the same ‘wavelength’ in terms of caste, class, religion, and education-which-does-not-liberate-woman-with-false-feminist-notions.
Can we dust off our hands from the misdeeds of these meritocratic messiahs?
Do we, as a society, have the right to question this hideously elitist, the blatantly sexist nature of their motives, their brazen attempts to assert their rightfully gained snobbishness? Who nurtured their privilege and their sense of arrogant entitlement?
Don’t our faces glow with admiration when tomorrow someone pretentiously introduces himself as an IIT graduate? From where does this uncritical adoration of these institutes take root from?
Shouldn’t these institutes take responsibility for the lives of children, deprived of their childhood and holistic education, distorted in their name? Shouldn’t government intervene to put a check on the hideous business of coaching institutes- an alibi for academic ghettos- that have sprouted like cinema posters in every corner of the city?
The grotesqueness of this enterprise should force us to reflect on the structural inefficiency of the education system and the charade that the private corporate entities have made of it in the guise of ‘international’, ‘concept’, ‘techno’ schools.
I will end with a verse from my poem “Two I’s of T”
A generation passes by
on the two eyes of technology
that a country is proud of
And can’t get enough of.