The medium of expression..

Today, we are surrounded by all the modern technology and amenities. Every aspect of life is touched by some form of technology or an intelligent machine. One of the most vital aspect in human life is communication. This is what separates us from other animals. That’s why we humans are called social animals. And we have developed all sorts of devices including telephone to mobile phones, internet to social media, news media to radio transmission to facilitate this communication.

We are all connected in this web of information and communication. There are hardly any places on earth, where any network range, be it cellular or satellite cannot be reached. The world has been brought together with this invisible links of radio waves. We can talk to anyone, anytime, anyplace on the planet within seconds. If we cannot talk, we can leave a message, send a video, update our status, tweet something, post on the wall, and so many other options are available.

Yet, amidst all this digital crowd, we seem to be lonely. It’s as if we are lost in the crowd. This is baffling because inspite of all the tech devices at our finger touch, still our network seems to be lost somewhere. And this network is from our mind, our heart. We seem to stay away from group. As if we have taken for granted that we can connect with our friends and loved ones, anytime due to all the advanced technology. Yet, we fail to do so.

I wonder how many of us really stay in touch with our good friends? I understand that due to busy work schedule and family responsibilities, its not always possible to stay in the loop. Infact, it is said that after marriage, the couple often lose contact with their oldtime friends. Only after a dozen of years pass by, kids grow up, the mid-life crisis of late 40’s hit us, and then some invitation for a school or college re-union comes up, that when we try to connect back to our friends.

Earlier, there was no Facebook. So, the friends only had a option to connect using either phone or home address, which also changed often. Now, there is no such barrier. Yet, I find that more than 95% of my friends on Facebook, who used to be my good school and college friends are just ‘Digital’ friends today. No one is in touch with each other, even though they are just a click away on the app. While, we might be living in the same city, yet it feels like we all residing on different planets. I feel like they have become something like a fixed deposit investment, which I can use(connect) only when the term is over, like only when there is some kind of re-union or alumni meet, whatsoever.

I have often believed that letters are like the mirror of human mind and expression. Because when we write an informal letter, we often put more in our emotions and expressions than we would on facebook, or whatsapp. Maybe, because we are concerned of our privacy. In older days, this form of letter writing prevailed due to this subtler form of expression. Now, even though it has been replaced by more faster and encrypted ways of communication ( after all, letters were like an open secret, with an end to end non-encrypted transmission) like emails, phone and video calls, but its hard to replace the train of thoughts and ideas which used to get expressed in letters. Thats why all the letter writing between eminent personalities like Gandhi, Tagore, Nehru, Lincoln, Franklin, Vivekananda, Marie Curie, Einstein and many more have been collected and cherished in the form of books and in museums. Because those letters reflect the personality of those great men and women.

Even love letters are considered like a sacred form of expression between the couples. I have always believed that apart from love letters, there is no other form of delicate and honest communication between lovers. Today, lovers use all form of mediums be it facebook, instagram, whatsapp, or even an email to profess their love. Video calls, or proposing directly is the standard norm yet human mind is elusive. Because the mind often misinterprets the direct communication face to face, or voice as well. Only eyes tell the truth.

This poem in hindi perfectly tells what eyes speak..

आँखे सब बोलती हैं
सारे राज़ खोलती हैं
आँखे आईना होती है मन का
आँखे बोलती है दिल की ज़ुबानी
कह देती है अनकहीं कई कहानी
इंसान कितना भी छुपा ले जज्बातो को
मन कितना भी बहला ले दिमाग़ को
चेहरा झूट बोल सकता है
मुश्कान झूठी हो सकती है
आँखे सब बोलती है
सारे राज़ खोलती है

Translation:
Eyes speak everything
they unravel all the secrets
they are the mirror of human mind
they speak from the heart
however man tries to hide his emotions
or mind tries to elude the brain
human face can be liar
or smile can also be liar
but eyes reveal everything
they unravel all the secrets...

Just like eyes, the letters are the perfect medium to convey what the eyes tell. I am sure that however innovative ways of proposing or expressing love might happen, be it like proposing near the Niagara falls, or in front of Taj Mahal, the subtle expression and emotions which letters convey cannot be emulated.

But the sad aspect is today, letters communication have become rare like a good politician. The most obvious reason is there is no need to write letters, when we have more faster and simpler tools like emails, phone calls, text, video etc etc..I agree but still I feel this form of communication ( especially informal)has to be preserved. Because letters open a new door of mind which is more mature and understanding, which a messenger text or whatsapp message cannot.

I am ending this post for now. As we becoming more and more busy and occupied, the communication channels are getting closed day by day. Its like we are experiencing solitude amidst a crowd, and that can be one of the worst evolution of humans. Because we being social animals, and all these communication technologies were meant to increase human contact, but rather, what we are seeing is we are just communicating with the machines, and not humans. Instead of getting closer, we getting drifted apart from our friends and loved ones.

Soon a day will come, where a robot will take care of all our calls, messages, filter out the important and spam ones, send a reply on our behalf. I am sure this will happen some day because of the way AI and robotics is advancing…

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The hype of elite college admissions!

College Admissions Scandal: How the Elites Escape the System – The Patriot  Post
Credits

Recently, I watched the Netflix documentary – Operation Varsity Blues: The college admission scandal. After watching this documentary, I am stunned with the way this scandal was carried out. I had always heard of scandals and frauds in banking ( like Wall street – Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme), government ( Watergate), and mostly in Hollywood high profile scandals.

But this one in the field of education is something rare. Maybe becuase there is already a way to enter the college which is known as ‘back door policy’ where any interested student for an elite college can gain admission after making a hefty donation to the college or university. But what Rick Singer ( who is accused of carrying out this admission scandal) did was to open a ‘side door’ by faking the students profile with fake SAT or ACT test scores, and even wrongly displaying to the admissions team about being an athletic recruit. It has been covered nicely in this documentary and it sheds light on this obsession of parents to use any illegal means to make their kids get into the elite schools, by using their money and Rick’s ponzi scheme.

But apart from such admission scandals, what bothers me more is this hype to get into elite colleges and universities. In USA, be it Harvard, or Stanford, or in India, be it IIT and IIM ( Thank God, I haven’t heard any admission scandal in IIT or IIM so far). I can understand that it is very natural for anyone to aspire to get into such top colleges, as they have proven over time and with their thousands of successful alumni, that its indeed one of the life’s changing experiences to enter and graduate from such Ivy league colleges. The right kind of networking, amenities, professors, courses, and the charisma these universities have often sets the life of those students who study and pass out of these colleges, which truely makes them a part of an elite group, even though exceptions always exists.

But the most important part is not everyone can get into such colleges. Only the competent, intelligent and deserving gets into. The admissions process is highly selective and that’s why it isn’t easy for all to get into it. But still the students and their parents are obsessed with such admissions, and hence, they try super hard to get into these elite institutions. That includes spending the entire high school years in just studying, with no other personality development, paying millions for tuition, coaching and career counselors, working hard to score maximum in test scores ( SAT, IIT entrance etc).

And after all the above copious efforts, if the student fails to get into his/her desired college, then the depression and stress the entire family goes through is very disturbing. I had tried to crack the IIT entrance exam a decade before, and couldnt do it. I remember it took me quite sometime to get rid of the depression and sadness which often comes along with such failures. Infact, it also led to a sense of loss in self-worth which is very detrimental for a 18 year old who has not even reached his legal age for almost doing anything in the world. But I was lucky to have got into a good college later, and soon came out of the sadness. But not everyone is lucky. Many students cannot bear the pressure and this loss of self-confidence compels them to take extreme steps, like suicide.

While this is the dark side behind the rat race for college admissions, but cheating and bribing( using side door) to secure an admission is even more perturbing. Because not only its illegal but also it undermines the hard work and efforts of all the good students and their parents, who have been burning the midnight oil to clear the tough exams and get admission through legal way ( also known as front door). The actions of those who had bribed and tried to undermine the credibility of the admission process is culpable and those people should be sent to jail. ( But the netflix documentary shows that Rick Singer is still a free man, while others have been sentenced to mere 4 months or even 14 days of jail sentence)

Also, it makes me wonder if the college education after all deserves so much attention? Do the graduates from such elite colleges really change the world? I know many famous engineers, businessman and politicians have studied in such elite universities. Barack Obama is a Harvard law school almuni, and so did Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg went to Harvard. Many Nobel laureates and scientists are from MIT, Stanford and Harvard. England’s most of the politicians have PPE degree from Oxford. IIT’ians are known to be the most successful professionals in India and USA. Infact, Wall Street and Silicon Valley is filled with IIT and USA Ivy league graduates. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google is both an IIT Kharagpur alumni and has M.S from Stanford, along with an M.B.A from Wharton school, University of Penn. All such famous personalities are inspirations to millions of students and young professionals like me. Even parents who themselves couldn’t get into such colleges, for reasons whatsoever,dream of their kids getting into such elite colleges, and thereby becoming the future Sundar Pichai’s or Mark Zuckerburg’s.

There is nothing wrong in this dream. But it is important to understand that this is not the only way for success in career and life. Often, we misinterpret their success to their elite colleges. We think they became successful because they graduated from those universities. This is where the real problem is. Rather it is their intelligence, their hard work and their passion to make a contribution to the world which has led them to the pinnacles of success. Their degree, and the elite Ivy league college is just a launchpad for their career. It is like a booster similar to rockets which provides them the required thrust to begin their career and enable them to work with the similar kind of people ( who also have graduated from such colleges). So, in short, apart from networking and initial boost for the career, the elite colleges dont play much role later in their life. Whatever high accomplishments these people achieve is due to their hard work and perseverence.

Also, not every successful person is from Ivy league college. Infact, many of the famous and successful people did not study in elite colleges or not even attend a four year college. Steve Jobs who actually changed the world, dropped out from a non-Ivy league college. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg dropped out of Harvard. Narendra Modi, the current PM of India does not have a four year degree, but rather gained his education from distance learning courses. Kalpana Chawla, did not have an IIT degree and still became the first Indian woman astronaut. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, does not have a degree from IIT and still could become the CEO. Many successful entrepreneurs and politicians in the world have a degree from a not so famous college. Infact, Peter Thiel even started a fellowship with a $100000 grant for anyone who would skip 4 year college and rather work on some novel startup idea. One of the famous Indian who got this fellowship is Rishabh Agarwal, who is the CEO and founder of Oyo.

While on the other side, Rahul Gandhi went to Harvard ( through back door policy indeed), and he is nothing but a laughing stock in India. Rajat Gupta, convicted for securities fraud, had gone to IIT Delhi and Harvard. Jeff Skilling, the infamous CEO of Enron, who led one of the worst scandals in American business before 2008 sub-prime crisis was a Harvard business school graduate. And the major players on Wall Street who articulated the sub-prime crisis and profited millions in bailout package bonuses, includes Hank Paulson ( Harvard Business school(HBS)), Ben Bernanke( Harvard, MIT), Tim Geithner( Dartmouth), Lloyd Blankfein( Harvard) and Jamie Dimon (HBS).

Hence, going to an elite college is not the only way to become rich, successful and famous ( or infamous). But this does not mean that 4 year college education is not needed. If we want to persue a career in science, research, medicine and govt service, then having a college degree is a paramount. To have a a stable job, be it in private firms or govt office, college education is a must. Even though online courses like coursera, udemy and distance learning have grown manifold, yet the importance and acceptability of college education is not going to subside. But whats important is that going for elite college is not needed. It is just a hype, a social thing which the world gives so much unnecessary attention. I would say, anyone, be it a simple middle class student, or even someone who cannot afford an elite college education, it is possible to become successful in life by attending a decent yet good university, and really work hard to achieve their dreams in life. No dream can remain unfulfilled if the intention is strong and efforts are 100%.

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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