deponti (deponti) wrote,

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Pride...and prejudice...

My spouse did his B.Sc at Shillong and later took the "by three" course at IIT
Madras. I don't think this was due to any academic drawback as he topped the
European School Certificate when he finished school in Bangalore, and topped
the University in his B.Sc. This may sound irrelevant bragging...but's relevant...

When we were based in Chennai, he was added on to the IIT Alumni egroup.
At the time, we had only one email id which I used to access ( my spouse has
never been an active emailer, and I do most of his correspondence for him).
I found that the moderator of the IIT egroup seemed a gregarious person, who seemed to have bounced back from a most horrendous brain surgery. I was quite impressed by his joie de vivre.

When some of the jokes on the egroup started getting a little risque, I
wrote and said that there might be other women reading the emails and hence
he might like to tone it down a little bit. To this I got a reply that he
and his wife found it "very strange" that I was accesssing my husband's
email id.(How his wife was reading my email, I don't know!) Then he asked who my husband was, as he could not place him.

I told him that MH (my husband) had done the "by three" course. I was amazed by the
tone of the reply to this. He actually said (after 30 years' interval!) that
he would not have cared to know someone like MH even if he had been in
the next room in his hostel, as he was a "by three" student and they didn't
like these people who entered IIT by such means when the others had got in
by merit.

I wrote back to him expressing my surprise at the intensity of his response,
and let him know that contrary to his reaction to my participating in MH's alumnus activities/egroups, I had felt so welcome amongst his IIM
friends that I had actually started the egroup for their batch. Not one of
them looked down on me because I was a non IIT or non IIM person.

It was even more amazing to see his response change immediately. MH the
IIT "by three" was not worth knowing, but MH the IIM guy was. He even
invited me to be a moderator for the IIT-Global egroup. But having had a
taste of the prejudice that persisted after three decades, I withdrew from
the correspondence altogether.

I still feel so uncomfortable when faced with this kind of intellectual
snobbery. Yes, no doubt the cream of students get into IIT and IIM. But does
that mean that those who don't get in or do different programmes are somehow
lesser beings? This is something, I feel, which every intelligent IIT and
IIM alumnus must introspect about. I do often see youngsters who are from
the IIM's behaving as though they are somehow superior to non-alumni. Nobody
is superior to anyone else because they have more money or brains or
looks...this is what I firmly believe. Those who are really accomplished
find something good and interesting in every one, no matter how different
the background may be. To me, goodness of heart and real humility about
oneself are what mark out people who are superior to others.

If I think I am somehow superior to another..I am actually inferior.
Tags: snobbery

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