Mansi Kapoor is a faculty at MIT -WPU, School of Management in Pune. SAGE is the proud publisher of her book “Global Business Environment ”.
Back in the eighties, Pink Floyd crooned to
all their fans -
“The child is grown; the dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.”
This blog is dedicated
to the Class of 2020.
across the world, welcome the new batch with fanfare. Elaborate orientation
programs are arranged with colleges vying for celebrities to deliver inspiring
keynote speeches. The excitement in auditorium halls is palpable and one can
almost sense each heart beating with hope for a brighter future. The darkened
auditoriums glitter with twinkling eyes.
And then when the course
ends, there are valedictory events, private student parties, the group
photograph, moments captured to be cherished later in Alumni Meets. It’s quite
a thing. Ask any student, and they will always have vivid memories of these
events and might have forgotten everything that happened in between.
This year though,
students across the world were suddenly asked to leave with little assurance.
It was an abrupt end.
March is “the month”
in the academic world. It’s like spring. Beginnings and endings culminate at
one point. Educational Institutions are Factories of hope after all. But this
time around, the USP is missing.
Days have turned into
weeks and weeks into months since lockdowns the world over have been announced.
Everybody, right from the neighbourhood vegetable vendor to Presidents of
Nations have only one thing on their minds --- what’s the future going to be
like? When will this end?
And all of us have
become “Comfortably Numb.”
Most of us are caught
in the twin act of salvaging whatever little is left of our present lives and
livelihoods and simultaneously coming to grips with what we’ll eventually
return to (if not laid off) --- a radically different world. What it’s going to
be like, no one really knows.
But, what we can be
sure of is this - education and subsequently work will lose their social
context. Many lectures can now be delivered online which students can listen to
at their convivence and submit assignments. I guess the fun we have with all
kinds of students --- the naughty ones, the disinterested ones, the ones who
always have a silly question, the eager frontbenchers, the “I don’t care about
you” backbenchers, and the rebellious ones --- is a thing of the past. The
vibrant ecosystem that students and sometimes eccentric, hopelessly idealistic
teachers create is no longer considered useful. Ironically, there’s an ancient
Chinese curse- “May you live in interesting times.”
I think we have rudely
been awakened by the tiny, microscopic virus that education now does not end
after 10+2+3+2 years. The process will
now be a lifelong affair. Micro degrees, certifications, internships etc might
be needed regularly. One degree, one domain, one career path is on the verge of
extinction. Heavy investment in one college degree will no longer be viable.
The Gig Economy will
continue to grow and work from home a norm. It’s, after all, cost-effective and convenient,
again. So, we will no longer have jealous collogues, bossy bosses, supportive
friends, juicy gossip and all the works that make an office an office!!
So, maybe there will
be no value in social connections, I mean the real ones.
What will happen, will
unfold in its own way. However, the crisis has revealed that “we the people “have
been piggyback riding on the toils of the “the marginalized, the victimized
and the most vulnerable.” We have assigned to ourselves and our work far too much value and hence this gross inequality
Will we learn or will
we remain comfortably numb?
To the Class of 2020
- untangle yourself from those dreams, just for now. You might be starting something radically
different. We will count on you, one day! You will address us in dark
auditoriums and be messengers of hope.
Check out the SAGE textbook Global Business Environment by Mansi Kapoor
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