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Girdih India
A college where you experience freedom
Jan 17, 2018 04:25 PM 4009 Views



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I was skittish and jubilant when I got the acceptance letter from Ashoka University. It felt like the happiest day of my life. A dream had come true. I felt liberated and less anxious about the future. Ashoka meant everything for me - a place where I always wanted to reach. And when one finally reaches their desired destination they feel a surge of peace and contentment, strangers start seeming familiar. This is exactly what I felt. I pinched myself to see if I was still dreaming - but, this was reality! According to the wise sages, a part of your soul gets split into parts somewhere and the soul seeks to re-unite and be whole. Coming to Ashoka felt like what my soul was aching for. Here my soul found its unity. The experience of the complete reunion of the soul creates perennial bliss and I understood this only after coming to this place. I am still in awe of my surroundings. Every evening when I take a walk I pinch myself to remind myself that my time here is not a virtual tour but a reality. The chirping of birds, the sweetness of Oreo shakes, the softness of the grass touching one’s bare legs and the cool breeze rekindles the sense of gratitude towards the Creator, to whom I prayed to get into this college. But, things were not so hunky dory before this.

It all started when I got into the Indian Institute Technology - Varanasi(IIT-BHU). Two years of burning the midnight oil and maintaining a strict schedule paid off. The day the results were announced, the whole colony came to congratulate me. It was as if I had won a great military victory. Text messages of congratulations kept flooding in. The society around me made me feel special. I got enrolled for my studies and the engineering classes started. There were brilliant kids everywhere. However, my actual experience of college did not chime with my exalted expectations. In the first class, the professor came in, introduced the topic and then abruptly walked out. In the second class, the teacher came in and didn’t teach properly. We were told to figure out the texts by ourselves. Students were careless about their studies and wasted all their time watching movies and soap operas instead. Initially it felt good because I felt carefree. But after a week, I realized this was not how I wished to spend my undergraduate years. My conscience told me to quit. So, I did. I returned home and faced melodramatic responses from friends and relatives. This decision, I was told, would be one which I would regret for the rest of my life. It was as if I had sinned terribly. Some people questioned my academic acumen, and implied this was the reason for my quitting. In reality, there were no studies done. I felt disillusioned by the much-hyped IIT as an institution.

This is the problem with Indian society. The quality of education is sacrificed at the altar of brand loyalty. Once a student is admitted to a reputed college nobody enquires about the quality of education or your grades. People just need to hear the name and they are in awe. It is the brand which signals social prestige. My parents assumed I would apply to a law college or a management school. To their utter surprise I said that I would be going to a Liberal Arts college. Their first reaction was of horror and concern. Nobody goes to an Arts college. Arts colleges in contemporary India is valued as much as leftover food on the plate. It is commonly believed, these institutions are only for those who fail to gain admission at good colleges or for those who leave school with poor marks.

Ashoka made me see the flaw in such arguments. After making friends at Ashoka, I realized the true richness and diversity which life may offer. Coming here, I realized that life in India isn’t all about pre-packaged IIT promises. Life has to offer a lot more than that. I felt liberated from the drudgery of IIT. It was only after coming to a Liberal Arts college that I properly understood the true meaning of the French word ‘libere’.

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Ashoka University