The summer in Kolkata, contrary to all the clichés that describe it, is not only about the sweltering heat and the luscious mango. As with the rest of the country at this time, the summer is also when the school bell tolls for the ultimate time for all the final year school students who have appeared for the last board examination of their life.
As if the frenzy of the sun is not enough, colleges and educational institutions all over Kolkata witness the arrival of crowds of anxious youth along with their equally anxious relatives in tow. The reason? College admission forms of course. This year has not been any different in the City of Joy.
However, significant steps have been taken to ensure that the admission process remains streamlined. A few years ago, St. Xavier’s College had been the first college in the city to introduce the process of online submission of admission forms. By 2008, most of the premier colleges of Kolkata have adopted it as well. Though this has significantly reduced the chaos that usually ensues at this time, technical glitches galore. Some college aspirants reveal that most of the time, the college websites remain overloaded and subsequently fail to function as a result of immense traffic. Also, though the queues for the form submission have been done away with, the reader must not be deceived into thinking that the famous legacy of the “Kolkata queues” has been done away with for good. Ultimately, the fees charged for the forms still have to be paid by hand. To top it all, the enlightened college authorities often keep a single accountant to face the entire wrath of the youth community of the city. The serpentine queues which ensue as a result have often deterred students and turned them away from the college gates with the idea of coming back at a better time. Vain hopes – is all I can say.
Some colleges have completely done away with the old process of distributing forms. Now, unfortunately, the entire community of the city and its suburbs is not as “tech-savvy” as everyone would like to believe it to be. Students hailing from slightly less privileged backgrounds have been on the losing side of this problem. For example, a student who hails from a family where often two square meals a day is a rare occurrence, access to a computer is rather a ridiculous possibility. But again, one cannot have the cake and eat it too. In this context, perhaps the readers would like to recall that one of the glaring disadvantages of a government “for the people, of the people and by the people”; often the interests of the majority ride roughshod over the interests of the minority.