Taking it to heart...

Summer of 2001..
A R's classes..

Sitting in that class with all the happy faces around me, I couldnt help but wonder why I wasnt feeling happy.. Why wasnt I feeling happy for them and why I wasnt feeling happy for me. The class was for coaching us blokes for the engineering entrance exam(2 yrs in advance!!!). The class had a steady mix of ICSE guys and SSC guys. The ICSE results had been declared two weeks ago. The SSC results were declared 2 days ago.. The happy faces however did not belong to the ssc guys.. Ofcourse they had scored 85%+ which during our times were decent scores, but the jubilation had somewhat been dampened by the scores of the icse dudes.. The lowest icse score in the class was 87%.. The avg icse score was 90%. At that score any ssc guy would be famous in his galli and mahulla, with aunties coming to him and asking him bout what coaching class should her son should join and stuff like that!

Now getting admission in Mumbai is fierce competition, more so in the central suburbs, simply coz there are more students than college seats, not to mention 50% reservation(subject of a different post) and various regional quotas.. Every mark counts, and when you see guys from a different board getting scores as high as 92% , simply coz 90 marks in languages are gettable for them whereas only a handful of ssc students get those kinda scores in languages, you cant help feeling sorry for yourself..

AR's classes continued well into the admission season. You expected colleges to do something bout this gap in the scoring of the two boards. They didnt do nothing..! You expected the State board to intervene.. It didnt do nothing..! The icse guys got admissions in the first list itself.. Ruia, Ruparel were easy pickings.. Sies and Khalsa were too downmarket.. Sies was chosen only by those who wanted their education to be free.. Sies offered full scholarship to anyone scoring more than 90%.. Yeah that included even the icse guys. And the city was full of 90+ icse students.. I lost respect for the college after that.. 

The ssc students  on the other hand were waiting for the second and the third lists. The ones with less than 85%, like me, waited for the fourth list..

Rejection is a big deal when you are young.. When you dont make it in the first 3 lists, its the college telling u that u aren't fit to be in the elite.. You aren't good. You don't meet the standard. Its what a designer feels when his designs get rejected, its like when a filmmakers feels when his movie flops.. But it is tougher here - here YOU are the product..!
The filmmaker can come up with a better movie next, but how are you gonna come up with a better - YOU?

Admists the turmoil of thoughts and emotions, I remember telling myself - "I will make them take me in the next time.. "
Such wisdom could come only from the very young and the super naive..

Now that I look back at those 2 years after ssc that I slogged, I realise I did it to prove to those colleges how wrong they were.. And how their "elite" students wont make it to the Engineering college that I will make it to.. And yet, the thought itself is so wonderfully stupid that I cant help but feel proud of it.

Summer of 2008.
Siemens Design office.

As I was flipping through the newspaper, I came across this article bout a new "system" that will  be introduced this year. It said that the ssc students needed a fairer trial versus their peers in other boards. It said that Icse board had a liberal marking scheme and to normalise that, the govt. has come out with system. 

I couldn't believe what I was reading.. This is what I have been saying all this years! I finally had it in print! Some smart guys in the govt. had finally taken notice of the injustice imparted to ssc students and had come up with a plan.. 

Cynicism disappeared.. Idealism returned.. Justice does that to you. This system was not gonna affect me in any way. I was through studies and college. So were all my friends and everyone I was close to. But I still couldn't help feeling happy that atleast someone will get a fair deal. Finally after all these years, the govt took notice. Thank you Education minister.. You are the man! 

The number of ssc students in the elite colleges doubled! Ruia, Ruparel, HR, Xaviers were, all of sudden, within reach.. Ssc students were finally getting what their marks were worth.

Summer of 2008
Mulund Residence

Last Saturday, I woke up to this - IT'S CANNED

The Mumbai High Court has ordered the Govt. to can the system they used for admissions. They say the system used isnt fair on the Icse students.

Now the system :
Lets say you score 83% in ICSE. And lets say the avg percentage of first 10 rankers of ISCE board in the state is 98%, then your percentile will be - (83/98)*100=84.69%ile

Lets say you score 83% in SSC. And lets say the avg percentage of first 10 rankers of SSC board in the state is 93%(yeah! thts the wide gap in the marking I was talking bout... ), then your percentile will be - (83/93)*100=89.24%ile

Pray tell me Mr. Chief Justice Swantanter Kumar, how is this system flawed??!! 

Lets assume that you are right, after all you have read a lotta law books and passed from the best schools(Icse were they?), what do you intend to do about this situation? since we are canning this system, is the govt. allowed to come up with a new one? Or do we go back to like it was all these years? 

I have nothing against the Icse guys, some of them are close friends of mine. Half of my cousins are from the Icse board. Many readers of this blog are Icse educated. I think Icse educated guys are very intelligent. They know bout a lotta things. They are exceptionally good at Indian and World History. And are also good at Science, esp. Physics. My knowledge of Icse students is limited to my cousins and my friends, so my observations are an extrapolation of it... 

But you cant deny that Icse is liberal when it comes to marks, and when it comes to admissions ssc students always get a raw deal.. Maybe, just maybe, this new system was unfair to the Isce students, but then, all these years have been unfair to us..   

I read somewhere -"Part of growing up is taking what you learnt from that and not taking it to heart...". 
Mr. Chief Justice, I am taking this to heart, not for myself, but for the thousands of kids who coz of your esteemed decision will have to learn that life is unfair and live with it.. Not that I dont want them to know that, we all figure that out eventually, its just that adulthood can wait, 15 yr olds shouldnt have to go through this..

For the record, no Icse student from A R's class of 2001 could make it to my Engineering college.. 

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12 letters to the editor:

    On October 2, 2008 at 1:41 PM     
    aroop said...

    How much does the chief justice earn, chances are, for all you know, his kids might be in an ICSE school..

    If you have the neutrality to call a spade a spade, then you'll agree, there's no such things as an average icse student is smarter or dumber than his ssc counterpart.

    The difference, is the family you were born in, whether your father could afford Jamnabai Narsee or Mulund Government school, and i have dined and tippled with kids from the elitest families(Owner of Ecole Mondial) to downright poor(zhopadpatti) in mumbai and intellectually, the board doesn't make an ounce's difference. well informed, may be but more intelligent.. bleh..

    Although probably the icse schools feel obliged to make the paying fathers happy with marks when schools like Ecole mondial(international School) juhu, charge 9 lakhs per annum and my entire education tuitions and school, college fees, and probably inclusive of my future hypothetical mba degree would cost less.

    I have pondered the issue time and again and seeing the two side of the coin, the only acceptable conclusion i could come up with was having quotas, now don't start that we have enough quotas already, listen to my solution first.

    Say you have 500 icse students in mumbai and 50000 ssc, and 1000 hsc seats in Chelsea College, you maintain the ratio of 1:100 in the hsc as well, this always draws ire of the icse students, saying it isn't fair, what if the average icse student is more smarter, thats why i built up my argument clearing the fact at first, if you agreed to it then, you cant raise the point now :P

    but as i always say,

    "Life isn't fair, it isn't meant to be, the sooner you make peace with that fact, the quicker you'll find eternal happiness" - Aroop Chaudhari.

    On October 2, 2008 at 2:44 PM     
    Mayu said...

    Hey,i wish 2 tell u people- Mr. Chief Justice is also a problem 2 da Judiciary in general!!!!!
    He's a nuisance 2 all the judges working in da judiciary as well! i wud like 2 cite an example- Apparently, he rejected a senior judge's transfer appeal(who was severly handicapped) on da mere grounds dat climbing 3 floors of da court building where he was transferred widout da help of a lift wud be a good exercise for him.
    Well, not only this, i can go on citing examples of his improper decions but dat will lead 2 a creation of yet another blog!
    Arshat, i luv u for writing this one!

    On October 2, 2008 at 4:52 PM     
    Hiren said...

    gud 1 arshat...
    but i wuld like 2 share 1 of my experience..
    1ce durin our ssc admissions (whn i was standin in a long queue of 1 of d colls in mumbai) 1 icse guy came in wid 75%...
    he was disappointed wid his % & was askn every1 whthr thrs any flexibility 4 icse/cbse guys is coll admission.
    i mean he was tellin dat his board is tuffer thn d normal ssc board & hence thr shuld b a different admission system 4 thm.
    & some of d parents of ssc guys wr agreeing 2 him.
    i was lookin @ thm & thinkin, didnt thr sons or daughters tell thm how much did v slog 4 1 full yr 2 get some decent % @ ssc..

    so bottomline is dat thr shuld b some justice done 2 d ssc students.
    v dont hv toppers @ 98%..
    max our toppers can get is 94%
    & v hv 'n' number of ppl rangin in 85-89 whereas icse hv 'n' no of ppl in 90-95..
    so somethin hsuld b done..

    On October 4, 2008 at 7:35 AM     
    Chriz said...

    man i am not sure abt the grading system in north.. but from the place i come from.. it is state board, central board, icse, matric .. and all of us are confused...

    On October 4, 2008 at 7:58 PM     
    Harish said...

    The way education is imparted to an ICSE guy is very different from the way it is given to us SSC guys. Also the marking shemes followed in the exams is also quite different from each other. You have n different boards , you have n different systems.

    Whats the solution?
    The quota system is one. It will work in the same same way it works between Diploma and Engg.
    Another one might be to have admissions totally on an unified enterance test for colleges and do away with the undue importance attached to the 10/12th std exams.
    Yet another would be to slowly absorb all those from different state boards into the central system either CBSE/ICSE.

    Coming to SSC v/s ICSE, saying a SSC guy is less intelligent than a ICSE guy is wrong. Similarly the example of no ICSE guy getting into the engg coll also doesnt mean that they are any less intelligent than SSC guys.
    Maybe most of them cant cope with the level of stupidity incorporated in the state board style of examinations. Repeated Question Papers with more emphasis on the presentation of the answer than the actual content and such crap.

    Ultimately i feel the knowledge levels of students from diff. boards may differ but the intelligance and learnability of an individual is not affected by the various board he/she studies in...

    Most of what you said made sense..
    But I dont agree with the Quota part.. Quotas in our country never get revised..

    Lets say we have the quota in the ratio you suggested, but what happens if more and more Icse guys opt out for IB or ISC colleges.. or worse, wht if ssc guys shift to isc or IB colleges? It is not impossible with he economy booming and all..

    And I never compared Icse students with ssc students.. I just said the ones I knew were intelligent.. :)

    "Life isn't fair, it isn't meant to be, the sooner you make peace with that fact, the quicker you'll find eternal happiness" - Aroop Chaudhari.

    You read it here first people!!


    That bad eh? Someone who cant be just in day to day affairs is somehow passing judgments on issues this important..

    Seriously yaar.. I feel like laughing when ppl like say they scored less coz they were in Icse.. Bet deep inside even they know how stupid that sounds..


    Same here.. We are as confused as you guys are! Only more! :P


    About the Quota system revert to my response to aroop's comment..

    I am sure you will agree the quota between Diploma and Engg. doesnt exactly "work". But I dont know if there is an better soln there..
    Other two options that you have suggested make a lotta sense..I completely agree on absorbing ssc students in cbse/icse boards though it seems to be an uphill task..
    The idea of an entrance exam also seems doable..

    Coming to ssc vs icse..
    I never said ssc guys were less intelligent.. I just said that the few icse guys i knew were intelligent..

    And I did not suggest that icse students not getting into the best engg collges makes them less intelligent..
    That comment was made just to make the readers realize that in a different setting different students will perform better.. So the colleges which thought they were taking in the best of students, werent necessarily doing a good job of choosing the best ones..
    As I see it, the main job of a Junior college is to make sure its students make it to the best professional colleges, but that doesnt happen always now, does it?

    And about the answers being presentable and all in the state board, isnt it like that the world over?
    I believe when you choose to enter a system, you also accept to abide by its rules.. So when in hsc, do as the hscians do!(er..pls bear with me) And who knows how crappy icse is! For all u knw, it might have more questions repeating than hsc..

    I agree bout the learnability and intelligence being unaffected by the board part..

    On October 6, 2008 at 7:49 PM     
    arpita samanta said...

    "taking it to heart" is quite a blog!!!...and it brings to light the enormity of the marks system in our state...being an ssc student myself,i to empathize with al dose whu hve bn struggling 2 get in2 decent junior colleges 4 all dese years...althgh it had been relatively easy 4 me...but i do remember the condition of few of my close friends because of the unfairness of the admission criteria!!!...i also believe that the icse students put in a lot of effort to get the scores...but we can't deny that at the end itz the ssc guys n gals whu have to bear the brunt of the viciousness of the marks system!!!

    Thanks for the comment..
    The system is really weird, and I have been thinking for the the last few days bout it - if there is nothing done bout the disparity in the marking scheme of the two boards, it will only get worse for the ssc students..
    The no. of Icse schools that are coming up is crazy! With so many Icse students wanting to get admission in the best of JCs, the ssc students will be pushed away to make way for them!