Life is not only about Academic records

This post is a formal entry for the InsideIIM ‘Great Indian B-School debate’ competition.

Name: Jobin Jacob

Institute: MDI Gurgaon

Team Name: Thinkers

Team Mate’s name: Prateek Shrivastava

Article I am refuting:

The article is a report on some of the discussions held at an InsideIIM Open House in Mumbai. The recurring theme in the article is that a stellar academic record or no less than divine intervention is the only pathway to success and earning respect from society. While it states the obvious in the fact that an outstanding academic record does catch eyeballs in certain contexts, it overlooks a greater reality that academic records are respected only when they are out in the public domain. Would Dr. Manmohan Singh be respected at a reed dance in Swaziland unless a dossier on his academic exploits came with his flight baggage? He is respected in a context where the audience and society at large knows his intellectual ability and outstanding application of his knowledge on a national stage. But that alone does not earn you respect in a different setting – where your past achievements on paper are not known to the people around you. In such a scenario, only the skills and abilities that you have internalized will stand you in good stead.

It is also said that people respect those with good academic records because it is “tough to have a very good academic record”. This is where the source of one’s academic record comes to question. We need not look any further than our own backyard to find glaring examples of flawed and skewed examination and evaluation systems. Academic records are dependent on many factors including the type, quality, frequency and objectivity of evaluation. It also depends on the prevailing competition when the grading was carried out. Were the evaluations done on a weekly or fortnightly basis? Did they cover the breadth and the depth of the subjects? Were the evaluations free from bias and favouritism? Were there uniform standards followed? Resumes, unfortunately for want of space or otherwise, never carry “disclaimers” of these kinds either. They don’t explain the context of one’s academic achievements. They hide more than they reveal and hence cannot and should not be the only yardstick to judge people.

One doesn’t need to be an exemplary academic to earn respect from society. History bears witness that neither is it a pre-requisite to achieve success. From Bill Gates to Dhirubhai Ambani, success and respect comes from enterprise and hard work. It is their experiences from life that enable them to be street smart and think on their feet in real time scenarios. So does being part of clubs and committees give you the right experiences for future business situations? The answer to that may not be a universal one, unless I wish to hazard another article refuting this one!