Belling the CAT

The CAT is out of the bag, and every hopeful aspirant is waiting to see who has belled this monster’s thousands wish to tame each year. Now what comes to one’s mind is whether it is the education, the money or a ‘safe’ future that motivates so many to sit through the grueling preparations and examinations. It is less of individual choices but a herd mentality and popularity of the course that guides the decision making. Like the IITs, the IIMs have caught up at last.

Why are we put through the dirt and grime of two crucial board examinations, IITs and IIMs? School, apart the conventional take on education in India, is very limited. There is no thirst for knowledge or love of subjects which is considered during decision making. Every parent wants their “genius” kids to pass out from the IITs, irrespective of their child’s aptitude and wish. So while in the US and elsewhere, kids are moving out of their homes to make their lives, in India (the innocent little bugs that they are) they are being protected and guided (read : coerced) to make choices they are too little to understand the gravity of. Parents know best. This is the oft repeated one liner always used on those sitting on the fence, waiting to be pushed around, in their best interests. Right.

CAT, Common Aptitude Test, is self explanatory. No amount of (expensive) coaching institutes, irrespective of their ego inflating claims, can work wonders in your performance except a couple of points up or down. It is similar to claiming, “Give us an average IQ, and we will make them Einsteins”. This is not an attempt to bring prospective candidates back to ground realities, but an earnest request to sit back and know their potential. Mathematics and English are not the only two words that define an individual. To see History and English students slog it out for Mathematics and Data Interpretation is like seeing a fish out of water. But I guess they and their parents know the best answer to a sure shot shining future – MBA.

Coming back to the CAT, the incessant messages wishing us (Yes, I gave it too, since Parents Know Best) all the best and asking to us “Crack it” have caused enough brain damage and annoyance to get us excited about the process anymore. Sitting for the CAT is a ritual. OCD. Obsessive CAT Disorder. Many first time aspirants are found to be plagued by it. It includes sharpening brand new pencils they haven’t touched after school, buying stationery, checking and re-checking their admit cards. Sleepless nights are not uncommon too and so are ‘Dostana’ trips to ease the harried mind a day before the big day. The night is spent on the phone receiving and sending messages, fast talking our worries and tossing and turning the night away.

Lucky are the home buddies whose mothers pour all the “Ashirwad” and “tikas” on their “ladle bacche” with a spoonful of sweet curd for good luck. The Hostellers have to make do with an odd fruit found in someone else’s room the night before and each others anxiety.

We CAT-ers, the proud “Been there and done that”, trying to keep a wannabe “kewl” demeanor below the pallid white face sitting in the examination hall, are regular humans after all, so forgive our shortcomings. Let this monster stray loose this year. We’ll try another time.

Charulata Somal

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