Raju reached his room after a light lunch. He did not like the food that day in the mess. In fact he had major issues with the choice of menu followed by the caterer. He picked up the newspapers which were slid under the door and started reading the headlines. Meanwhile, Prakash came running to his room and told him that marks for the mid term exam for XYZ subject were out. Raju swallowed the saliva in his mouth and started checking the online system for the same. No surprises. He had managed yet another C in yet another subject. Phew! He was happy he had got away. Raju had never studied that domain before nor did he see that subject's relevance with management. He just wanted to scrape through. Raju was one of the few people there who were not so worried about their grades. Raju believed his rat race had ended with the BAT (Beautiful Admission Test).
Raju always knew there were very few people like him on campus. But today, he was going to see yet another facet of Indigo Institute of Management. Indigo Institute of Management followed a relative system of grading students. The rationale behind that was to give students a taste of real life where everything is based on comparisons. Some people said it was a good system as it kept everybody on their toes yet some others were not so sure about it's merits. So basically, the system went like this. You got a letter grade (A+,A,A-,B+,B,B- ...... D- and finally Fail grade) based on your ranking in class. So the top 5% got the A+ grade and the bottom 5 % would fail or get a D- . So your grade depended on performance of others. If others did better than you , you were at grave risk of getting a poor grade. Deep in their hearts most students wanted others to do badly than them. They derived maximum joy looking at others helplessness.
Prof. Pradhan, the one who taught XYZ had asked students to check their papers before 6pm that day.He had given his papers to his academic associate. Raju couldn't care less. He went back to the mess to have an ice-cream. On his way he met Bob who was fuming with the kind of marks he had got. " I am from XYZ domain background! I know my subject. How could I get so less?!" Then he saw Sonali running towards the academic block. She was the fattest female (of the few females!) on campus and it made a funny sight. Raju could not help but smile.
In the mess, he met his good friend Anand who was quite upset. Raju asked, " Dude , what's the matter?" Anand replied , " Yaar yeh XYZ ke result se my exchange programme is in grave danger. A s in, i won't get the college of my choice. " Bells started ringing in Raju's ears. 'Even i want to go for exchange !' he said to himself. "Suna hai public apna marks badha raha hai XYZ mein. His checking is awful!", continued Anand. " Apparently, a few XYZ experts had pointed out mistakes in Pradhan's associate's marking. " Dekh boss, I need to increase my marks too" , said Anand. " Public apna karvayega toh I also need to do it. Coz else, I'll lose out in relative grading. Mujhe B aa raha hai abhi. Who know C ho gaya toh ?!"
For the first time, even Raju felt the pressure to go and see if there was any scope to get his marks increased. " Agar sab bol rahe hain toh kuch toh mistake kiya hi hoga uss stupid acad associate ne", exclaimed Raju and joined Anand to go towards the academic block. There were over 30 people in the area around Mr.Pradhan's office. Inside his office both Anand and Raju started hunting their answer paper. Raju heard Sonali pleading to the academic associate " Arre Sir aise kaise aapne itne number kaat diye! Aap dekho toh sahi, maine topper se compare kiya hai. aap ne usse poore number diye hai mujhe sirf 8 diye, Yeh bhi koi baat hai " ( Sir , please reconsider how you've evaluated my sheet. I compared it with the topper. You gave her full marks. You gave me only 8. How unfair?!) Sonali had a sweet but very irritating tone. Coz it was too sweet. Sonali was 22. The associate added 4 marks but she was hungry for more. He asked her to come after lunch time as he was hungry for food. All this time, Sohambhai was standing in the queue after Sonali. He was one of the oldest students on campus. He was 38. He had also come to get his marks increased. He was perspiring profusely.
Raju glanced at Sohambhai once and started feeling uneasy. He started getting that familiar feeling of claustrophobia. He felt sorry for Sohambhai. He felt sorry for himself. He started wondering where he had come. A 38 year old man was fighting for 5-6 marks that would ensure a C+ in XYZ subject. He then glanced at the now 50-60 people who had collected there. They were all there to get their marks increased. Everybody was insecure about their grades. Even people who had no problems previously had now come to ensure their relative position. Meanwhile, Raju saw a few guys in a corner changing the figures and marks alloted to them in pencil by the academic associate. They were then going to show him that there was a totaling mistake. "Dumb Associate ! Who checks papers with pencils! Worse, who keeps them open for inspection, alteration, modification and mutilation like this!", they joked internally. These guys were in the age group of 22-25. Raju could not believe what he just saw. He was seeing 20 somethings pleading, cajoling, crying , even cheating for 5-6 extra marks! He saw the pressure that put on the 38 year old father of 2 to get his marks increased! What a sight! This at one of the premier post graduation colleges in the country. Worse, these are supposed to be the brightest minds of this country and supposed to head the biggest companies in the coming years!
Raju left the academic block at once. He returned to his room.All this for what?For a subject that has less than 10% weightage in your final CGPA? For being in a position to get that coveted job? Raju kept asking himself. What is the purpose of this education? What is the purpose of me being here? What is the purpose for all these people?
He was too tired to think further. He went to sleep.