An Open Letter To Mayo College

Mayo College

Dear Mayo,

I hate you. I always imagined that my departure from your portals would be one of those slow, dramatic ones we see in the movies: Me, in the backseat of my car, heading towards the station to be a part of the celebrated Shatabdi trip one last time, with my school leaving certificate and fond memories, resisting the urge to turn and look for you through the window. Me, with my school leaving certificate and fond memories, wondering if you would watch me go. And hoping you would.

But now I know you will not watch me go at all. Rather, you would be happily preparing for a new crowd: guileless young lads and parents and mountains of their steel trunks. Lads ready to fill my place, my study, my class, my School. Now I know that you will move on. And I hate you for that.

They say your first love is your most memorable one. They lie. You are my first love, but nothing is so memorable about you. Not those evenings when I enjoyed preparing for the Prize Giving play while the rest of the School took their Half Yearlies. Not that wonderful moment when I lifted the Gibson Debate trophy for the School. Neither those lip smacking ‘dabba parties’ that you gave me all the time nor those sleepless nights I spentas a Junior School boy when I was told about Lord Mayo’s ghost trails.The Socials with Mayo Girls, not them.The privileges of finally being shifted into the Black Square, not them.

Do you not know how badly I am smitten by you? With the silhouette of your Main Building, the fragrance of your Mughal Garden, the strength of your Bikaner Pavilion, and the joy of a Mayo Round?

Mayo, I could never make you mine, for the way your desks pulsated with one thousand fingerprints. As if every wall had been leaned upon before, and every doorknob clutched. I could never own you, what with the glorious history the Old Boys left for me to emulate?

When I come back to visit you, would you recognize me? Would the peacocks still stand unafraid, when I walk past them, sensing a familiar face? Will they still serve me delicious butter paneer (yes, I’m a vegetarian) in the dining halls as if I’m their own child? Would I still be applauded and cheered for,for every small achievement in the grand Assembly Hall? Would the Music School still welcome me with arms wide open and cajole me into playing a string here, a chord there, to compose a song, a song as beautiful and melodious as you?

It’s been nine years since we first met, and today you are no longer a campus to me, or an institution or any collection of textbooks. You are a person. A person I would like to tighten my arms around. But I still hate you, for giving me beautiful people only to take them away, for putting me under the arc lights and quietly slipping away. For giving me the chance to mimic my seniors during the house farewells only to be mimicked today. For teaching me how to live life, not just to breathe.

Alright then, stop teasing me now, I accept it. Each day I love you more Mayo, today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.

Yours, always,

Mridul.

(Inspiration: Thought Catalog)

My Prize Giving Speech

Excerpts from the College Captain’s speech delivered on the 130th Prize Giving of Mayo College, Ajmer.

Prize Giving Speech

Your Highness, distinguished guests, I echo the sentiments of the boys who have been here for some time as I address you.

For most, the journey begins way back in the Junior School or the Oman House. The parents’ emphasis on becoming number One in class before joining Mayo continues to haunt the boys through their first year. Slowly, over a period this fades away. The ambitions of the boys gradually change to becoming – Number One Batch, Number One Team, Number One House and finally Number One School. A few more ‘Number Ones’ are added to the boys’ vocabulary – One phone call allowance, one sweet dish, one holiday in a week, one outing in a month, and one blazer and tie for the entire winter season! The Mayo experience is also One in a lifetime. It is the number One that infuses the spirit of equality, for wherever you come from, whatever your parents might be, at Mayo College, everyone is given that one blazer and tie only. The only difference that matters is what you do in School and how much you extract from the vast opportunities that Mayo offers.

During the last few years, while outwardly Mayo may seem to have transformed due to change, which is inevitable to keep pace with time, it continues to be steeped in its rich traditions and retains its unique core values. Today, the School is a more welcoming place for junior boys than ever. The seniors play a mentor’s role in guiding their juniors. Only a senior can spend patient hours monitoring prep while preparing for his own exam and teach his juniors to perfect a cover drive or play power chords on a guitar.

As the College Captain, I’m asked by many – ‘Why is Mayo so special?’ My answer to them is this – the pressure placed on students nowadays is immense: there is a growing emphasis on specialization and high marks. But Mayo provides a solution. The time spent here in Mayo prepares boys for life. Here you are encouraged to broaden your horizons rather than narrow them. The boys play sports, dabble with colours, learn musical instruments, debate, and even use a paint brush and saw, all in a single day.

A Mayoite may try and fail but never will he fail to try. Mayo emphasizes on the importance of every opportunity. A Mayoite’s commitment to a cause greater than himself and his ability to collaborate with others to the best effort is superlative. And if opportunities don’t knock on our door, we go ahead and build our own door. We make the most of whatever is offered. Mayo provides all the pieces to the puzzle of education. But it leaves it to the boys to piece it together. They are taught how to think, not what to think.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I speak all this from personal experience and that too a happy one. Here we cry the day we enter the School as unsure little boys, and we cry the day we leave the School as confident Class 12 boys. It is what happens in between that makes Mayo so special.

Over to Kushagra Agarwal, College Vice Captain and Medical Inspection Captain for some important highlights of the year gone by.

Thank you.

Atrocities Against Women in All Stages and Walks of Life: A Presentation

A presentation I made along with Kushagra Agarwal for the Silver Jubilee Memorial Multimedia Competition 2013 at Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer. This presentation won the second prize among entries from 11 participating schools from all over India.

Pencil Sketch by Kaushik Kundu, Mayo College, Ajmer
‘Paradise’ Girl Artist: Ivy Khati
Statistics from Reuters, NDTV and The Hindu

Audio Credits:
‘Paradise’ from the album Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay
‘Maa’ voiceover from ‘Save the Girl Child’
Womb music from ‘The Baby in the Womb’
Assorted music from ‘Moksh – Eve Teasing and Sexual Harassment’
Last clip music from ‘Day of the Girl’

Is Perfect Competition Better for Consumer Welfare than Monopoly?

I wrote this essay for my Economics assignment during my Summer School with Oxford Royale Academy.

Indian economy ran on monopolies before 1991. Today, it is based on the concept of competitive markets.

Indian economy ran on monopolies before 1991. Today, it is based on the concept of competitive markets.

An ongoing debate in microeconomics is about whether the consumer is better taken care of in a monopolistic market or in a market that breeds perfect competition. A monopoly is where a single company or a group of companies has exclusive possession or control of the supply and trade in a commodity or service. A perfect competition market is the theoretical state of a market where no company is large enough to have the market power to set the price of a product or service. In the former system, the company revels in unlimited power over the prices, quality and technicalities of their product or service; in the latter, companies find themselves in cut-throat competition with fellow organizations and have to constantly modify their prices, quality and technicalities in order to ensure survival.  To find out which of these two systems is better for consumer welfare, one must not compare them on the basis of the profits they generate or the resources they use, one must instead rely simply on consumer satisfaction.

Students around the world attending their initial economics classes are taught that monopolies are a bane for the market and it is perfect competition that drives economic progress and consumer welfare. This is indeed a valid point. If there is only one company that dominates the entire market, what incentive does it have to progress with its product and not become complacent? And once a product’s development becomes complacent, does a consumer get the best that can be offered to him/her? The answer is negative. If one examines the state of the Indian economy at the beginning of 1991, one realizes that because of the nation’s strict opposition to foreign products being produced and sold indigenously, the consumer went to a market plagued with meagre choices and no new development.

In the pre-liberalization India, superannuated cars like Ambassador were the only ones sold, and Lifebuoy was the only good soap available. Pepsi and Coke were banned and the local cola tasted like acid. The Indian consumer was stuck in a heavily monopolistic market where Indian brands never felt the need to improvise or innovate.

Then in May 1991, Continue reading

How does it feel to be the College Captain (Head Boy)?

This article was first published in Mayoor Magazine March-April 2013.

OathCeremonyOne question that I’ve been asked again and again upon my appointment as the College Captain Designate is ‘How does one become the Head Boy?’ To answer this, I have only one thing to say. You cannot consciously work to get a top post. Let me clarify this point by drawing parallels. Did Dr Manmohan Singh ‘work’ in a certain direction to become the PM?  Did Mr Pranab Mukherjee ‘work’ all his life in a certain direction to become the President? Certainly not. It is only aspiration that all of us carry with us; aspiration to become better, aspiration to reach sky high. I believe that one who does not aspire does not progress. So all I have to say is, yes, I did aspire to become the College Captain during my eight years at Mayo College, but I did not (rather I could not) work to become one. Had there been set guidelines to become a Head Boy, everyone would have followed them, right?

Let me also clarify another pertinent issue. The College Captain is not necessarily the best boy of the School. No leader is. As far as my batch is concerned, there are people better than me in nearly every possible faculty. So once again, don’t work towards becoming the Captain, rather, work towards becoming genuine, trustworthy and able. Stay ready to face challenges from the front. These are the qualities that will make you a great leader. During my first few months as the Head Boy, I have faced situations wherein I have been suddenly told to address the School, or meet visitors, or handle indiscipline cases, or motivate new boys. You may not call them challenges, but let me tell you, when you carry the tag of the College Captain, these become challenges. Expectations reach a crescendo. Stay perfect or be called an undeserving choice. As a College Captain, you are not a cynosure of all eyes, rather you are an easy target for anyone and everyone.

How do I feel to be the College Captain? I feel much more answerable to the School, I feel much more responsible towards the School, I feel much more attached to the School. College Captainship is not a privilege, it is a challenge and a big one at that. So, to all those who still have the question ‘How does one become the Head Boy?’ in mind, here is the answer. You become the Head Boy when you are found capable of handling the expectations and desires of eight hundred students, sixteen hundred parents, one hundred teachers, several thousand old boys, and lastly, yourself. Are you in for the challenge?

AppointmentsThe scanned copy of the article is here:
https://mridulgodha.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/college-captain-articleblog.jpg

Responsibility: A Selfless Faculty

What are our responsibilities to ourselves and to our society?

It's about everyone's good.

It’s about everyone’s good.

In the shortest possible terms, responsibility is nothing else but accountability. Responsibility towards a society, therefore, is accountability towards everything that happens in the given society. As citizens of this world all of us have a moral duty towards this place, and we are answerable to everything that happens in this society, directly and indirectly. Moreover, we are also responsible to ourselves because charity does begin at home.

Since we live in a highly subjective world, we see in the pages of history that people have taken up (or shattered) their responsibilities in countless ways. Some felt they were born to change the world, others thought they were here to help the under-privileged, and the rest didn’t mind turning a blind eye towards the society and took up the ‘responsibility’ of feeding only themselves. Responsibility is how you see it and take it up. An intelligent man aware of ‘his responsibilities’ would make this world better, a fool aware of ‘his responsibilities’ would make it worse.

Gandhi and Mandela felt it their responsibilities to do whatever it takes to bring a free and independent wave in their societies. They went beyond what is expected of a human, and, for the first time ever, fought wars non-violently. As we look back, we see that they considered themselves responsible for any bloodshed in their efforts
and often sacrificed their best desires for the sake of peace. On the other hand, Hitler felt it his responsibility to wipe out Jews and Non-Aryans. His maverick efforts and inhuman tendencies led to millions of deaths, but all that time he only strengthened this cruelty because he felt that he was only answerable to the Nazis and no one else. In short, he felt that he was living up to his duties and fulfilling his responsibility towards what he believed was the society.

Does that make responsibility dangerous? No it does not. But it does teach us that while we should make ourselves responsible citizens of this society, we must make sure that we do what is right for all the people and not merely for our families or our religion or our friends. Doing wrong deeds in the garb of fulfilling responsibilities is what Hitler did, and the entire al-Qaida out fit is doing the same.

We become responsible, forever, for what we have tamed. Therefore, we must make sure that the outcomes of our deeds are good, otherwise, there will always be
a dead albatross hanging around our necks.