Sometime back, my mother and I had a heated discussion on which colleges are better – Government or Private. Like most other people, my mother chose government colleges.
In India, we have a notion that only the best students go to government colleges while the others who are mediocre have no option but to join a private college.
But my story is different. As a mediocre student, I could not survive in a government college. On the very first day of college, I gave an audition for the debate society with a lot of hope. But there were thousands like me who did not get selected.
The same people who participated last year were chosen that year as well.
Let me put this across in a very simple way - The college where I studied did not encourage or train new talent.
All that mattered to them was the reputation of the college in the debate competition.
I suffered my first major setback. Then came their style of education; we had no major discussions, no debates, and no internal competitions.
The only thing I learned there was taking notes as fast as possible!
I even took Journalism and Film Studies hoping that it would bring some relief in my life. But I did not learn anything, neither writing an editorial nor taking an interview!
Once when I thought I would participate in a writing competition, I was criticized for talking to my journalism professor because he was a man. The college was a typical convent institution and I was also judged by some of the female teachers.
My character was assassinated for this silly reason!
Everyone also started giving me suggestions about what I should do after completing my graduation. Since this is India, they advised me to do my Masters from a top government college.
I could not reach the cut-off thanks to the system of reservation where hardworking students don’t qualify in top government colleges.
So, I joined a top private college where I was appreciated and accepted for who I was, not who I should be. Their education system was based on learning and applying and not mugging up. I did fairly well there.
Not only did I score well but also presented 2 papers in top conferences one of which was at the “Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad”. I also published an article with top professors in The Statesman and Nikkei Asian Review.
I was delighted when I got the news that I’d scored 80 in my Masters level thesis. I couldn’t believe it!
But no matter what, even after all these years, my mom asks me to prove that I can qualify for a good government college.
The obsession with government colleges is still prevalent in India and will continue for the years to come.