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Sunday, August 9, 2009

A lesson in Arrogance

He was my project advisor. He is also the best faculty in his area in the department. He is, more uncommonly, a very spiritual person who had, it seemed, found peace away from rat race of this world. He was also my idol, my role model, my sounding board, my debate partner and my guide. His philosophies irked some, who found him preachy and snobbish, but then, he wasn’t bothered because he was contended. Following excerpts are from a conversation that I had with him over six years ago when I was IIT Madras. Dialogues are constructed from memory but essence is maintained.

He: There is increasing perception in Industry and outside world that IIT students are very arrogant.
Me: I can see that. Having cleared JEE, students here believe themselves extra smart. My experience working with graduates of other colleges has shown me that neither their learning nor their applications are any lesser than those of an IITian.
He: Then why does this arrogance arise?
Me: Perhaps euphoria of passing tough JEE has intoxicated them. I, personally, hate arrogance in all form. I don’t think I am any special in being here.
He: So you think you are not arrogant?
Me: I don’t think so. A person accomplishes anything because of many factors including family upbringing, financial resources, genetic qualities and environmental factors and not alone by personal feat. I think I just have been lucky to be be where I am, to do what I did. (See: Proud of What?)
He: You think you are just luckier than those who couldn’t make it to IIT?
Me: Yes, Sir.
He: Isn’t that arrogance too?

And I haven’t forgotten the lesson to this day. I don’t really understand it completely, even now, but I do know there is something important here. And therein lies ultimate humbleness.