The Boards Don’t Matter!

Many of you will have watched Vir Das’ video On Your Marks on YouTube. So, why this? Even I can’t answer that. Just felt like it. I finished my 10th last year and I can very clearly remember the run-up to my results, which has started for the 2015-16 batch now. The CBSE gave us five tentative dates and didn’t fulfill a single one. Needless to say, I pretty much lost it. I wanted to rip them apart and throw them in a bin. I wanted to destroy them. Annihilate them. This is what I wrote on Facebook a day before the results:

Well done, CBSE. All students who took the Class 10 Board Exams this year are in your debt. You are undoubtedly one of the finest educational organisations to grace this great nation……from the bottom. I mean, why the hell did you announce tentative dates for the declaration of results when you knew that completing the task by the given date is beyond your capability and competency. In a small matter of 15 days, you’ve given 5 dates and haven’t been able to fulfill even a single one. My mother told me to be patient when 21st passed. Despite being the restless person I am, I waited. My patience was running low but I relaxed. Until today, of course, when the cow called CBSE jumped over the moon. On 25th, I congratulated all my friends and one cousin who appeared for the 12th Boards. I am deeply disgusted at your evident lack of concern. We have to get admissions. Those who want to change their Board of Education may not be able to get admission on time because vacancies will be filled. But why should you care? Sitting in your air conditioned offices and playing with paperweights labelled ‘Student’s Future’ must be a rather enjoyable thing. Maybe you’re thinking of declaring the results along with our juniors who have started 10th this year. You want to be unique, don’t you? Some person will write in the comment box that your writing criticism doesn’t make a difference. It does. The people on my friends’ list will get to see the useless bunch of morons the CBSE are. Or to sound more desi, CBSE=Champu!!

Now, a year later, when I think of it, the results didn’t do much for me. Yeah, I may’ve gotten into a decent *coughs* college *coughs* but apart from that, there is hardly any difference. I am an academic disaster. Okay. That’s an exaggeration. Maybe not a disaster but certainly not a prodigy either. Never was I a class topper. Nor was I a wooden spooner. I was one of those mediocre students who spent his time reading novels at the back of the classroom, the over-enthusiastic CCA participant. But not academically inclined. Never. I was a decent student till I entered the ninth grade. Was that a roller coaster ride. My marks dropped faster than Flipkart’s prices on the 2014 Big Billion Day! I could not believe the report card. It said 76%. And that’s bad…….at least in CBSE. The first term of the tenth grade was even worse. I hated Science beyond everything else. The marks were poor. I could do better. I put in four months of work. Four months was what I put in to get what I thought to be an outstanding score: 9.2. A month later, it dawned upon me that my marks didn’t matter. They mattered during the admissions and on the first day of the eleventh grade. After that, everyone had to start afresh. The only baggage you will carry if you score well is having to perform better with each level.

Your marks will not change much: your parents and siblings will love you just as much, your friends will still be your friends, the education system will still be effed-up. For better or for worse (apply your perspective here), a few people will stop talking to you: some relatives, a few acquaintances whom you outscored. But your marks will not ignite a revolution. Hardly anyone will say that a 9-pointer should pick humanities or commerce. People will call you foolish if you do what I did: picking humanities with a 9.2 CGPA. But do it. Your marks are not a reflection of you. Except academically. They don’t define you as an individual. I have some friends who were never great students and I couldn’t stand a lot of obnoxious toppers. I had toppers for friends (Amiti, Gurpreet, Arul) and I clashed with the low-scoring goons. Marks will only get you into a decent college/school. In today’s India, we have hundreds of unemployed doctors, engineers and even MBAs. Which means that we’ve exceeded the demand for those jobs. We’ve still got aarakshan and it’s not going out of the door anytime soon. But screw all that. Enjoy yourselves. If you’re satisfied with a certain number of marks, who gives an eff about what others say?! There are dozens of great people who were poor students. So, to quote Bobby Axelrod from the TV show Billions, “Play hard, play clean. Be careful out there (or not).”

PS: I apologise for the childishness of the Facebook post. I was a moronic fifteen-year old. Now I’m an equally moronic sixteen-year old.

Varun Bhakay Writing 2016


An Open Letter to the Authorities of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education

To Whomsoever It May Concern,

Guten Tag! Hello! Namaste! What’s up? All good? All well? I suppose it is. What with cutting corners and stuff, things must be a whole lot easier at your offices. I must commend you on the exceptional textbooks you’ve produced. Classic. How have you not been rewarded for it? The reward money would help you get better typists and proof-readers. The quality is world-class.  In my ten years of formal education, never have I seen such textbooks. You shouldn’t produce them in paper, they should be made of gold. Solid gold. But then printing would be a little more difficult. But what is difficult for you? It’s not even a word. It’s something that’s not even in your dictionaries and grammar books. I’d really like to see those. You have the most amazing English. The nuanced language of the textbooks blew me away. It was like an artillery gun fired a blank round with its barrel facing me, leaving me choking because of the dust and smoke! And my mum’s an English teacher. Have you read the textbooks? You really should. You have to! If you don’t, how will you know and understand the quality of education you provide? I have studied in a series of CBSE schools over a ten year period: Guru Harkrishan Public School (Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan); Kendriya Vidyalaya (Island Grounds, Chennai, Tamil Nadu & Belgaum Cantonment, Belgaum, Karnataka) and Army Public School (Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir) and never have I encountered such textbooks. Before you start beaming with pride, I hope you have got some indication that almost all of the above was written sarcastically. Know the word? Sarcasm? The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘sarcasm’ as ‘the use of irony to mock or convey contempt’. Get it? In ten years, I never found a single grammatical error in my CBSE textbooks. And I was one of those restless kids who read textbooks for recreation when I got tired of the idiot box (the TV is also known as that) and novels (get a couple of good ones, will you?). I cannot possibly, nor can anyone else for that matter, count the number of grammatical errors and simple language errors in any one of the textbooks. Also, the way dates are written. To quote an example, say the date is 15 October, 2015; it’s written as 15, October 2015. How lovely is that, eh? And the English textbook stated that many foreigners and Mumbaikars died in the 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks. I’m sorry but that is incorrect. People from all over the country were in Mumbai that night. While ‘Mumbaikar’ is a word used for residents of Mumbai, ‘Indians’ would have been the more appropriate term to use. Also, why in the name have you made it out to be as if the names ‘Bombay’, ‘Poona’ and ‘Deccan’ never existed? Mumbai was Bombay until 1995. Pune was Poona until the late 70s. While you may prefer either name, the fact of the matter is that until some years back, these cities had Anglicised names, whether you like it or not. Just because it is felt that these names are reminiscent of the Colonial era doesn’t mean you try to erase them. Maharashtra came into being on May 1, 1960. Before that, Bombay State existed, before which there was Bombay Province. What’s with calling it Mumbai State?! While it is correct to use the terms ‘Mumbai’ and ‘Pune’ in the Marathi textbooks, you can’t do the same for English. Simply because Mumbai was Mumbai in Marathi and Pune was Pune. Time to get out of the pure Marathi scheme of things, don’t you think?


Varun Bhakay.