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Pass on the class

Here's the draft of the speech by an IIT dean welcoming this year's freshers:

india Updated: May 29, 2011 00:18 IST
Manas Chakravarty

Here's the draft of the speech by an IIT dean welcoming this year's freshers:
Dear boys and girls,

I welcome you to these hallowed portals. I know how hard each one of you has worked for the Joint Entrance Extermination. You have spent months swotting. You have had to give up parties, movies, music and all the stuff that makes life worthwhile to concentrate instead on unnatural pursuits like differential equations and thermodynamics. I know how you feel, because I teach the damn things. And now that you have finally been selected for admission into IIT, you feel proud you have finally made it to this august institution. Alas, I have to inform you it's far from august, it's not even June. What I mean, kiddos, is this place has just been declared non-world class.

Let me explain it scientifically. In what has since become famous as the Jairam Principle, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said the faculty in IITs is not world-class, but the students are. Note that Ramesh is an IIT graduate, but not faculty, which makes him, by a remarkable coincidence, world-class. Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the BJP has criticised him by saying India needs world-class ministers, but Rudy is not world-class and therefore not from an IIT. Or maybe the other way around.

But education minister Kapil Sibal says at least a quarter of the faculty in IITs consists of ex-IIT students. How can world-class students become non-world-class teachers? This is known as the Sibal paradox, at par with the Schrodinger paradox, the one about the live and dead cat. But Schrodinger and Sibal didn't study at IITs and hence are not world-class, so this paradox needs to be taken with a pinch of sodium chloride. We are now eagerly waiting for what our prime minister, who has gone to both Cambridge and Oxford and is, therefore, double world-class, has to say on this all-important matter. There have been rumours he's been sniggering into his beard about it.

You young people will now have to get used to five years of life with a non-world-class faculty, a non-world-class campus, non world-class natives in a Third World country. Worse, many of you plan to move on to the Indian Institutes of Management after passing out, where you will be condemned to two more years of non-world-class existence.

Nevertheless, you have the consolation of knowing that you are all world-class, although as time goes on some of you will be first class world-class, some second class world-class and some third class world-class. Just to be clear, the last one is different from world-class third world. What should keep your spirits up is that after passing out you will get world-class salaries. Recall that Einstein was the first to discover E=mc², where E stands for education, c for cash and m for more. Relax, that's just to show how weird I can get.

You must be wondering how I, a non-world-class guy, can teach so many world-class kids and indeed can stand here, albeit a bit unsteadily, and make this confident, if rather confusing, speech. I'm nervous about it myself. Thankfully, I've discovered a world-class product that helps me tremendously.

The trick is to carry a largish hip flask and sip liberally from it before each lecture, which gives me the courage to lecture to you world-class folks. Naturally, I only use world-class single malts for the purpose, preferably Glenfiddich.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed by the author are personal.