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Four Years at IIT
Feb 03, 2011 08:55 PM 63552 Views
(Updated Jul 04, 2011 11:07 AM)



"Five Point Someone" by Chetan Bhagat has received rave reviews and praised by all. New York Times called Chetan Bhagat the biggest-selling English- Language novelist in India’s history. Well, FPS is a simple, easy to read, short story, and has been praised by all News Papers and Periodicals. But at the same time it is very difficult to accept and agree with his description and narration of IITs. IITs are our best institutions of learning and training. It is not for nothing that the entrance into these institutions is a herculean effort and everyone who gets admission thinks himself/herself to be very fortunate. Mr. Bhagat has not done justice to the institution IIT. All the graduates of IITs get employment here in India or in other countries, especially the United States of America. The description of the IIT teaching and dealings which have been described are, to my mind with limited exposure through colleagues and others, are not true. O f ‘course all this is not to belittle the excellent story that Mr. Bhagat has churned out. It is an easy read which one can finish in one sitting.

The story is built through three students, freshmen, who met on joining IIT Delhi and during a ragging session. Ryan Oberoi, Alok Gupta and the narrator Hari. Ryan’s parents are rich and in the USA. Ryan is a well built, well muscled young man. His background has made him a carefree strong and self willed person and has a devil may care attitude. He saves all from the ragging session. Alok is from a family in need of money and care. His father is bedridden after an accident, mother is a school teacher and supports the family. Alok also has sister of marriageable age. Hari Is the narrator of the story and perhaps falls in the category between Ryan and Alok. The three cannot be considered to be representative of the IIT crowd but do represent vastly different background. In the story as it progresses you come across another type, the studious mugger in Venkat. Alok at one point separates from his buddies, Ryan and Hari but in the course of the narrative leaves Venkat an rejoins his buddies, Ryan and Hari. Alok’s father is a cripple and Hari and later both he and Ryan visited him and had sumptuous meal.

The most interesting part of the whole narrative is Neha an eighteen year old girl who lives in the campus with her family. Hari makes friend with her and meets her in the Ice Cream parlour. Neha is beautiful and attractive. Hari likes her very much and so does she. But they take time to develop this friendship, and trust in each other. It starts with holding hands and then arms around the waist and the first attempt at lips is distanced with pushing and so on. Neha endearingly calles Hari my loafer. Eventually and gradually this has to become intimate and grow physical and it does. The whole meeting with Neha is always tantalizing and neatly done.

Well, IIT is a learning place and so there have to be Professors. In an institute of the size of IIT there will be so many Departments and every Department will have lot of Teachers and others, Head of the Department, the Dean and other staff. When there is so much staff some Prof. or the other is also kind and considerate while some other may also be very strict or tyrant in his approach while still some other is sympathetic. This was also so in the Mechanical Engineering Department to which these buddies belonged. There is Prof. Veera a very kind, helpful and sympathetic person. The tyrant is Professor Cherian, Head, Mechanical Engineering Dept. and Neha’s Father. Ryan had made a Lube Project which Prof. Cherian shot down. Prof. Cherian had a son Sameer who wanted to be a lawyer but his father wanted him to be IIT engineer. He tried and tried but failed IIT entrance thrice. Ultimately he ended his life on a railway track without telling anybody but writing to his sister. Then there is the Dean Prof. Shastri who is also very helpful.

There are two acts of mischief this trio indulged in. The first is their rendezvous on the roof of the institute(insti). At nightfall they will go up there(nine floors) with a bottle of Vodka and enjoy, nobody sees them there and they repeat this at their pleasure.

In IlT the system of evaluation is the grade point system and unless one has good grades getting a good job is difficult. For all this there are assignments, tests and viva. These are all held periodically. Our buddies were all just average: five point something. At one point Hari was lagging very much behind and in the upcoming viva he had to score an A, a very difficult task. Ryan suggested and made him drink Vodka before the viva. Prof. Cherian smelt and fired him and flunked him.

Then there was the test and he had to get 10 in that. All three deliberated over this and decided the easiest way is to enter Prof. Cherian’s office and steal the final paper. Hari managed to get the key to his office, duping Neha, got it duplicated and then one eveningthey decided to enter Professor Cherian's office to steal the paper. All three barged in and got caught.  Alok had to telephone his house rather urgently and he did inspite of issiduance from the other two. The security found that something was wrong in the office and came and caught them red handed. This was a very serious offence. It was reffered to the disciplinary Committee called DISCO, who deliberated on the offence. Prof. Veera and Dean Shastri helped them as much as they could to overcome the extreme seriousnes of the offence. The three of them were suspended for one semester. Then they worked day and night to

to show that they were busy in the lab., thanks to the kindness of Prof. Veera. The Lube Project was there and saw to it that it was approved

I am leaving out the details for the readers as these are interesting.

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Five Point Someone - Chetan Bhagat