Hell is Other People

"Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book."

- Cicero

"Hell is other people"

Sartre’s infamous end to what is perhaps his most famous play exemplifies our short existence at this institute, which marks the pivoting act in the lives of us denizens.

During our induction, Shekhar Deshpande, (IIML Batch of ’94, JWT), characteristic to his profession’s disregard for statistics as anything more than a tool for effective presentation, shared with us a similar sentiment when he said that PGP makes 49% of our learning at the institute. The remaining 51% is ‘other people’. Our ‘stint at the institute’ shares too its central theme of freedom and responsibility with Sartre’s doctrine ‘existence precedes essence’. One’s individual characteristics, or essence, are what carve one’s identity, and the freedom of choice to shape these identities necessitates the absolute responsibility for one’s own actions. Hell, therefore, is what we make of it.

In discussing a suitable theme for our reflections for the ‘Learning Book’, we debated on a plethora of possibilities. One of the most pertinent was based on our interpretations of the billboard messages that screamed at us on the final 3.4 km stretch to campus. For instance, 500 metres from the campus gate, the words “Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value…” are heralded by the bastions of relative grading as authored by the father of relativity. The value spoken of however, is subject to interpretation and being of little use in EVA calculations, is ignored with easy abandon by the community in general.

“He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives.” Why then, we chose to question, must one be a man of value, when we have learnt from a lifetime of education and experience that success is the recognised measure of a man’s virtue?

Meditating on this search for a deeper purpose forms the basis of our group’s existence, and jotting down our ruminations in the book serve to clear our own thoughts. What better way, we felt, could we take advantage of this activity, than to have it aid us in growing, both as a group and as individuals.

In that respect, and in relation to the argument thrown up by this ‘value’able billboard, our first debate was triggered. Why should our next unoriginal academic submission not be akin to that of Peanuts’ Sally Brown - “This is my report on rain. Rain is water which does not come out of faucets... after a storm, the rain goes down the drain, which is where I sometimes feel my education is also going.”

Because… our own worth is measured, like that of our institute, by what we make of it. Because… if not, we run the risk of becoming (as one the institutes more admired and respected professors of operations quips) a Type II error. Because… we could do without the opinion oft expressed over a Cappuccino at Nescafe by us of the student community, as put more eloquently by Kurt Vonnegut, “…true terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your class is running the country.”

Because… as Bob Pirsig did in 1951 in Benares Hindu University, we too will perhaps recognise the value of the doctrine of ‘Tat tvam asi’ (Thou art that), which asserts that everything you think you are and everything you think you perceive are undivided.

- Hell’s Angels
(Alok, Animesh, Anshul, Gurpreet, Siddhartha)

Disclaimer – The authors’ opinions are entirely their own (who else’s?) and subject to change. They are prepared as a basis for constructive reflection rather than to present illustrations of either correct or incorrect handling of an administrative situation.

Top 5 comic strips
Alok Chacha Chaudhary, Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv, Dilbert, Dennis The Menace
Animesh The farside, Garfield, Wizard of Id, Beetle Bailey, Archie
Anshul Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert, Garfield, Tin Tin, Chacha Chaudhary
Gurpreet Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, Archie, Spiderman, Wizard of Id, Dennis the Menace
Siddhartha Peanuts, Dilbert, Asterix & Obelix, Jo Zette and Jocko, The Phantom