The last thing due – A guide for future aspirants of TISS

I just got done with my no dues certificate today. It means I am done with all the dues and I don’t have any more debts with the institute. Although, in the literal sense it means I will get back a few thousand rupees I had initially paid as fees, it actually means a lot more to me. And I feel I have one more debt to pay to my alma mater. And I cannot leave this place without it. No, this is not a sentimental and nostalgic account of how I would miss people and the institute. It certainly is not! So I am trying to write something which would help people, aspirants and otherwise to know exactly what they ought to know when they seek admissions to this prestigious institution and/or visit it for a conference or a paper presentation or a seminar and what not.

Let me clarify one thing very clear. For the people who read this and take it literally, I am using the typical method of sarcasm and satire – a boon to writers who don’t wish to write things as they are, but what as they are not. So, ponder over it, debate it, criticise me on my face or on any medium, and do all that you want to- but do not take my words literally, and do not follow it as its written. Ah well, better do that too!! And it would only make this piece a bit worthwhile to read.

So enough of these cautions and precautions. Lets just jump to the dirty business. So, you are now a graduate and want to do something for the poor and hungry people of India. Welcome to TISS. This institute boasts of such legacy in changing lives of the poor and the marginalised that it has actually succumbed to its own created benchmarks.

 What to do first then?? Keep your radical approach to look at things outside the gate when you get here for the interview. They don’t have a place here. But yes, do not forget to lie about how you felt that volunteering for an NGO for 2 months changed your life during your hard earned prestigious schools and college education. Do not say that you want to get a job at the end of this course, but that you want to devote your life to a professional career for the dying poor. Do not forget to attach certificates of all the social and cultural activities you have ever received an acknowledgement of, especially if it says that you did excellent work in assisting some big shot social figure in organising a public meeting, a conference or a social audit, even if you had no clue about what exactly was it for. All that really makes a difference, and that can certainly melt hearts of the interviewer about how sensitive and devoted you have been.

But wait!! Never try to continue doing the big inspiring words you said in that interview. Those are just for the interview, just to expertly fool someone who has been an expert in doing (or writing papers twice a year to keep getting promoted and earning huge salaries) on those same issues. If you try to do all the big words you said to get in here, you are doomed. (Those were lies, remember! Oh of course you remember – you made them up yourself or with ‘helpful’ seniors, who told you what all to do at every stage to tap the minds of the interviewer in your favour)

I am sorry I am not dwelling too much on the intricacies of what do they ask in the interview; you surely must know someone who maybe did an MBA coaching with you and then decided to join this place, or who now represents a state or India in some high end forum and of course in high paying jobs. They must know it better to teach you the tricks of the trade. For others not fortunate enough to have such resourceful peers, you are not really required here. They need better people to come here– who can talk well, and write well and present well. You might still get through, although you are not meritorious enough on these grounds and are merely honestly committed to your words and causes- miracles do happen right! So never stop believing and keep trying. You might succeed one day.

And so now you have realised that when you are inside this place, and you have to now put up a face. A face so strong that the super-bright students continue to hold you in high regards. That you are so great that you fought internal and external battles to reach here and you shall keep your commitments intact forever. But again you must always keep in mind that this is all a farce. You must keep in mind that your intention behind all those words and talks is something much greater. That intention must always keep focussing on how to score the biggest job. Isn’t that what you have always wanted? To get a nice job and a good salary package, irrespective of what the work is. You don’t really need to bother about idiots who assemble at every chance they get to gain petty popularity. They came here through a miracle, and those miracle dependant people are much lower in intellect and conviction than you. They have lost their way and think all that they do is right, that they are trying to make this a better place – and they believe that they would make their worlds a better place through all that. But there is not much to worry about such people, they cry hue over every small detail and think they are bringing democracy and justice. I say that there is not to worry about them because they are bound to fail, because you will find great alliances in people who will help you with dismantling those erroneous efforts.

 Before you get too romanticised with the idea, let me tell you one thing. Merely doing well in an interview and securing admissions will not make you a true TISSian. You need to have some extraordinary qualities and you will need to demonstrate them in whatever way possible. I shall now list those qualities so that Mr. is freed with the burden of guiding you before the interviews.

  1. You will need to get your head tested in the most scientific laboratory in the world and obtain an NOC from it. If cursing discrimination and shouting your heart out on anybody and everybody has been your way of life, or if you intend to do so in your life, you need to take heavy doses of corporate media house reports and epilogues mentioned in traditional cultures to remind you that you live in a world where all this dissent has no place. You would be given crash courses in inspirational patriotism if you think people protesting against the state, be it your fellow students, dalits & adivasis, kashmiris, Maoists (or terrorists or hurdles in development) or any such people are justified in any way so that you do not lose track of how the world runs.
  2. A special qualification is cynicism and hopelessness. You have not completed your education if you have not mastered these skills. You need to keep practising such skills on e-mail threads, social networking sites and if you feel like (and only if YOU feel like) in conversations. You indeed have the liberty to not really mess with the lesser beings, those who do not have any other purpose in life than to disrupt the state of affairs. You should also choose to hold values and ethics in life very high– the ones which run the world- globalisation, caste and gender structures; among many others. But you will only have to share these with the lost souls, for they are also your fellow beings and the least you can do is to guide them to the proper path. (C’mon, you are good people, remember!! You are not like the rest of the cruel world).
  3. The last and most important thing is to stay as far as away from the word ‘politics’. That does not mean you should not support electoral politics.  You should, so that a true democratic establishment must run the place. And you must keep asking them questions which nobody else asks- about why the DJ at the last cultural festival was not happening enough and why can’t they ban couples sitting in shady corners and disturbing the pure atmosphere of the campus.
    But never try to align with all the words like ideologies and keep your focus on getting jobs for yourself, the ones that you think will be good for you. I should not be patronising here. But if you ever feel that anything anywhere in the institution is going on which you are forcefully made to feel is undemocratic and unreasonable (forcefully because always remember that there actually cannot possibly be anything wrong with anything here), take a deep breath and relax. Give a call to your richest friend, hang out at the coolest pub and upload pictures and dedicate status messages of the awesomness on Facebook. Note down all the likes you get on these and keep a database ready. Quote this in research studies and take pride in what you have done. Keep hard copies of all such things- Who knows! The next thing you know is that maybe the institute will give out scholarships or a direct Ph D offer to pursue it further.