From A Small Town In Bihar To IIM Lucknow – Aastha Sneha – Celebrating Womanhood On InsideIIM

Aastha Sneha Pathak is a 2nd-year student at IIM Lucknow. Besides living the hel(L)ish life, she loves to read. She is also a member of Forty Two, the literary and debating club on campus, as well as, Team Disha, the committee of placement mentors.

What was high school like for you? How did it contribute to your personality/ the person you are right now?

Yes, my school life has largely shaped who I am today. Although I grew up in small town Bihar/Jharkhand, I always had a great set of teachers and peer group around me. A healthy dose of competitive spirit was forever present. My high school years, in particular, were spent in a convent, an English speaking environment with a lot of focus on personality development, communication, etc. The last couple of years were in the biggest school of Jharkhand, with a very large and diverse peer group. I learnt a lot from people who had made it to the place despite adverse circumstances. Those couple of years were pretty hectic; everyone had competitive exams to prepare for. I must admit I found myself shadowed in this bigger, more cut-the-throat-competitive world. But that was also a phase of life, and I definitely came out stronger.

If money was no object, what would you do all day?

In such a utopian world, I would read and watch movies all the day long! I would roam around in the evenings, watch, observe and indulge in a lot of introspection. I would pick up things I would have observed and write as well.

What advice would you give to a 5-year-younger you?

Life would present with many more, and graver, situations than what you are dealing with right now. But at the end of the day, nobody really bothers. So stop thinking ‘log kya kahenge’, coz log hamesha kahenge! Get up, don’t waste time and do exactly what you feel like doing.

How do you think women are better equipped to deal with problems as compared to men?

Dealing with problems is not based on gender, in my humble opinion. How one deals with a problematic situation depends on one’s upbringing, education, choices available, strength, and a lot many externalities exclusive to that particular problem. I have had a fair mix of all genders being equally good and bad at dealing with problems. But yes, one must learn to accept one’s limitations.

Many IIMs and other b-schools award extra points for being a woman. What is your take on that? Do you propagate the concept OR Have you faced any backlash for the same?

While I personally never experienced any backlash for it, I do not support this system. Any admission should be based solely on merit. There are female candidates scoring 100 percentile in CAT, without any advantage of gender at that stage. So if one is fit enough, academically and mentally, to deal with the rigours of a b-school life, one can make it through without any ‘support’. Moreover, if a female candidate is inducted based on those ‘diversity’ marks, and subsequently fails to perform, she would be the one at a loss. She would lose her own faith in herself, not to even mention good placements/scores. The ‘support’ stops at the admissions stage. After that one is on one’s own.

Name one incident that you encountered where someone told you, you couldn’t do something because you’re a woman.

My peer group largely consisted of male friends during my college days. So, yes, there were multiple occasions when I was mockingly told by my friends to keep out of some activity on the grounds of my being a girl. One particular incident which comes to mind is when we were on a trip to a place, where there was a sudden plan to trek up a hill. Since the trekking was completely unanticipated, I was asked to sit out of it. But I insisted on joining them, and some of them did help me out whenever I was stuck (well, everyone was helping each other out, gender notwithstanding!). I did end up completing the trek, and the breath-taking view from the top compensated for all the jibes!

If you are out on a date, do you prefer to pay yourself? If you insisted that you want to pay for yourself, how did the other person react?

I prefer splitting the bill if I am out with someone. However, there have been instances when I insisted on paying (it was my ‘treat’, perhaps!) The reaction has been varying – some haven’t minded at all, while some have made me promise I would take back their share later (or they would take me out some other time only to pay!) But yes, a girl paying on a date always raises reactions. I have also noticed how the waiters place the cheque/bill before the man. I think this is one of those things which connects women worldwide. Otherwise,

Too many women,

In too many nations

Speak the same language

Of silence.

Media & Communication Cell IIM-Lucknow

IIM Lucknow's Media and Communication Cell (MCC) serves as a communications liaison between the Institute and the external world. MCC also acts as the community building platform of IIML and ensures that all the student activities and initiatives at IIM Lucknow receive public recognition