Earlier in this series: S01E01: The Pilot
Kids, last time I was telling you about the extremely volatile yet interesting times that your superDad grew up in. The Indian economy was liberalized in 1991 by Dr. Manmohan Singh (who was castrated later and acted as the PM. Weird that his name started with Man) and the middle class was starting to find its footing.
The age of Ramayana and Mahabharata was past and babas started popping up left, right and centre (like pimples on the face of a sixteen year old girl) preaching abstinence by the daylight and giving sexual prasadam to their most favored disciples at night.
Long before Lord Ganesha decided to become the brand ambassador for Amul Milk, people queued up the temples from Vaishno Devi to Rameshwaram offering coconut as bribe to the Gods to fulfill their wishes. Just like the multitude of Indian population, their aspirations were also an example of Unity in Diversity. For a Sikh would bow his head in front of the Akal Takht and pray that Babaji be kind enough and send him to Canada to drive a taxi, a Gujju would disturb the sleep of the entire neighbourhood by organising a jaagran to please maata raani and ask her to give his son a wife and dowry (and either the wife be beautiful or else the dowry better be handsome), and a South Indian would put three white stripes on his forehead and pray to the God to give him more saambhar and naariyal chutney. No, actually kids you must remember this, the South Indians are the most learned people in India. Every village in Tamil Nadu has sent more number of kids to IIT than the number of PMs that Uttar Pradesh has sent to Delhi (I am not counting Mayawati. She says so but she was never the PM. She is just a bit loony. Don’t believe me??? Ok, she installed a million elephants in UP and then kept crying over the paucity of sugarcane in UP). So, the south Indians prayed for education and an admission for their progeny in the IITs.
This brings me to the original story I wished to tell you. About IIT. Kids, in our times becoming a doctor/engineer was the second most cherished dream, second only to becoming a sweeper at Heathrow. And IIT for engineering aspirants was like Amsterdam for the playboy, Vegas for the gambler and India for government officers. It was such a revered institute that its entrance examination was deferentially called IIT ji. I am telling you that people were so obsessed with IIT that they would be pretty happy if their kid spent 4 years doing his B.Tech at IIT, then 2 years for M.Tech at IIT, 5 more for Ph.D. from IIT and then become a teacher in IIT.
The exam was one of the toughest in the country and overnight coaching centres cropped up across the country (not like pimples but more like mosquito bites, concentrated in some regions). One fine morning, you saw a board for F(uck)IITji outside a shop which earlier used to sell lamb-chops, and the next morning, you will find Ban-Sal hoardings decorating the neighboring scraps shop, and within a week every possible shop in the market was taken over by Narayana, Oasis and their various manifestations. But all had the same goal, to mint money from the parents and promise each of the four lakh students an admission ticket to the 2000 odd seats in IITs. Once again Unity in Diversity.
It was more like a red-light area, with pimps calling you from every window enticing you to take ‘admission‘, some offering crash courses to overcome past failures, some special extended courses for the beginners with personal attention to every student, and some even boasted about highly qualified and experienced teachers from every corner of India. The only difference was that while we would go the red-light area hiding it from our parents, the parents in turn hid it from us and before we even knew, got us enrolled in one of the courses. That’s why I rather call it the Blue Light Area.
P.S. Best of luck to over 4 lakh students appearing for the biggest fuckfest of all times (IIT-JEE) today.