Theatre of the absurd

Tragedy struck our campus over the weekend.  A student, celebrating his 20th birthday, complained of acute chest pain, following which he collapsed and died.   My heart goes out to the friends and family of this kid. 

After the initial shock, now come the details, some of which is probably subject to revision.  The student had a relatively sedate party, ate some cake around midnight and retired for the night.  When some of his friends did not get a response when they knocked later on his door, they became suspicious and eventually broke down the door and got him out.  They called for an ambulance and of course, they could not get through.  So, they alerted the warden of the hostel, who then called campus Administration, who finally got through to the hospital.  In any case, it was 20 minutes before the ambulance showed up.  Of course, that is not the official line, which is (from Dean, Students, Prof. Govardhan):

There was a small delay… much less than 20 minutes in the arrival of the ambulance. Incidents of such nature are rare at IIT-Madras, so the driver of the vehicle was not prepared

Well, yes, such events are rare.  Thankfully!  But, an ambulance driver has to be prepared for these things, right?  He is not going to a party, he is going to face potential life-and-death situations, emergencies, sir.  When the ambulance did arrive, neither the driver nor the two helpers knew what to do to help the student.  In fact, the kid’s friends did as much as they could to revive him, like giving him chest-rubs and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation done to the best of their ability.  The supposed helpers did not even do this much.  Eventually, by the time the student got to the hospital, he was pronounced dead.

I tagged ‘apathy’ on my last post on child labour, not knowing that the response to a student fatality would be even more stupefying.  For starters, there has been no communication from the Administration on what happened.  The chief medical officer has been conspicuous by her silence.  No official line on the sequence of events, no information passdown, no nothing.  The only chatter here has been from some of the faculty members.  Not too many, mind you, definitely not as many as those that responded to an almost contemporaneous discussion on performance-related bonuses for us. 

However, in an event symbolic of the shambles this campus is when it comes to useful intelligence, one Prof. speculated that perhaps excessive drinking was to blame.  This without actually bothering to find out that real reason was the pre-existing respiratory illness of the student.  As a completely gratuitous slap, said Professor also connected rampant pornography to alcoholism as issues that need to be addressed in getting down to the bottom of problems such as this.

It is at this point, we are supposed to collectively say, ‘WTF! WTF! WTF!’  Seriously, kid dies from pre-existing condition on our campus.  The best this guy can come up with is that we should address drinking and ‘consumption of porn’.  Fantastic!  I objected to this nonsense and was promptly asked to not think like a lawyer (for agruing for free speech, no thought control etc.), but to think of it ‘as a social issue as if you are personally involved’.  The law is a pesky thing, innit?  Kinda applies to people outside campus AND INSIDE.  Here are some excerpts:

Well, if you were a parent and found your son consuming pornography 24 x 7, besides a lot of alcohol, instead of studying, would you check yourself as having outdated notions?  Think about it as a social issue as if you are personally involved, not a legal issue as if you are a lawyer.

There are limits to everything.  Talk to Prof. —– about the extent of this problem, besides rampant alcoholism. We are a residential institution, so it is reasonable for us to expect students to follow a reasonably healthy life style.  At the same time, we also become answerable when things go beyond reasonable levels.  I am ok with us not being a residential campus, in which case we won’t bother, and I would like to assert that unhealthy life style would not contagiously spread across the entire student population if we weren’t residential.

My reply

Well, since you make it personal, if my son is consuming pornography 24×7 at his college and it is affecting his life, I would be seriously concerned.  But, I would be perhaps more concerned if he was consumed by some swamiji 24×7 or if he was consuming Facebook 24×7 or even only academics 24×7 or if he was going around 24×7 telling people what they should or shouldn’t be reading.  The recourse to pornography I can understand as being hormonal, and being exacerbated by social norms just like the one you espouse, but the latter ones I wouldn’t know how to handle. 

I don’t need to talk to Prof. —- or anyone to tell me how bad the ‘problem’ is.  I have come through the same hostels, seen it and dare I say it, partaken of it.  The problem is firmly in the minds of the self-righteous.  Reminds me of ‘Rain‘ by Somerset Maugham.

Thought control has no place anywhere, especially on the campus of an educational institution of our stature.

Pathetic! Pathetic! Pathetic! There was one more Prof. who privately said to me that the ‘present younger generation grows up in narrow-minded, selfish, consumerist, unitary families’ , and that we need to monitor our youngsters more closely because  ‘over the generations, it appears to me that improper behaviour – alcoholism, eveteasing, etc. – is on the increase’.  Chew on that cud, folks! 

Still, no word from anyone in Administration on what happened, or why!  Shameful!  In this set, there are people who go around asking us for our ‘Vision’ for the next 10 years so that these things can be distilled into a Powerpoint that will be floated up to the … who fucking cares where?  How about your ‘Vision’, sir?  Is it too much to ask for a good support system for the faculty, staff, and most importantly, students who have been entrusted to us?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Apathy, Bullshit, Communication, Idiots

10 Comments on “Theatre of the absurd”

  1. Lux Says:

    Truly WTF – the inadequate infrastructure for emergencies and equally, if not more, appalling – the unsubstantiated post mortem. If this is the nature of ‘scientific enquiry’ wherein (say)the unrelated issue of pornography is looped in, one can’t help but question the presence of some basic faculties absolutely required for a faculty member/scientist. A sad day, indeed.

    • deshvaasi Says:

      Check this out for other uses for ambulances. An email from last year:

      “It was noticed in the Institute Hospital that the ambulance at present available is being used for official movements of Doctors and Staff Nurse apart from the emergency services. As a result of this, during the last month, a person had a massive cardiac arrest and due to non availability of ambulance, the person was taken to the Institute hospital in a wheel based trolley stretcher from near R&AC Lab. on the tar road. luckily the patient’s life saved by a pvt hospital”.

    • Madhav Says:

      I agree with Lux. How could this man relate porn and alcoholism with this incident? Pathetic reasoning. I wouldn’t argue with such guys though. He already got you sucked into the 24 x 7 porno debate. Next thing you know you’ll be debating with him on the merits of taking blessings from a swamiji to save lives at the hostels.

  2. Hari Says:

    Dude, I hope you have tenure (or equivalent!) 🙂
    I feel very sorry for the student and his family. My heart goes out to them.

    • deshvaasi Says:

      I think I am technically still on probation. 🙂 My next post might ask friends and family to contribute to a charity that will benefit our family.

      Jokes apart, there are several of us who are deeply disturbed by the culture of unaccountability one sees on campus. Jokers come, wreak havoc, but jokers never get punished. The blame-the-victim game is alive and well.

  3. vani Says:

    I happened to read your email in entirety on the ‘mailing list’ and couldn’t agree more with you.

    To maintain decency levels on your esteemed campus, and setting a good example for students to follow, shouldn’t faculty members desist from having children? Doesn’t producing children requires that these faculty members “might” (excepting immaculate conceptions ofcourse!) have engaged in sexual activities? Rama Rama!!!

    • deshvaasi Says:

      Thanks, Vani. 🙂

      Pray tell what is this sexual activity you talk about? Making babies requires that Swami YoutubeAnanda drop off some blessed mangoes. At least this is what works for most people on campus.

      I am beginning to strongly suspect that some of the ‘faculties’ are confused between ‘porno’ and ‘pyro’. Wait, which one is mangoes and which one is fire again?

  4. Sundar Says:

    Heart breaking and frustrating – hope I dont run into that prof ever:(

    • deshvaasi Says:

      If only we were so lucky, dude. Some of these cats are pretty nice on the surface, until you start probing them a bit deeper. To think that these will be our neighbours on campus, if and when we move in!

  5. kenny Says:

    & here i was going to suggest that porn should be mandatory reading, you know, for educational purposes. blood on my hands! blood on my hands!
    (on a serious note, its ridiculous where this whole thing has gone, time for some serious changes)


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