I believe this one is also being turned into a film starring Salman Khan. Can’t comment on that till the film is released but the book makes one really feel uneasy because it is so authentic.
Like all good writers Chetan has a beautiful love triangle with an unpredictable ending to keep his readers engrossed.
But what made me forget even my lunch and small nap after lunch is the basic premise of the book- how a boy who failed in his attempt to get into a decent engineering college (whose father dies in depression) manages to set up a posh engineering college with the help of an uncouth MLA to churn out engineers.
Saying it one line appears prosaic but the grip Chetan has on the subject makes one want to say ‘Hats Off’. How everyone from the honest DM of the city to Vice Chancellors, authorities from the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and UGC fall in line with the thick wad of notes sent to them to grant permission to open the college made my skin boil even though I thought I was sufficiently calm and serene having seen politicians from such close quarters.
But academicians- those who preside over the destinies of our children, the only hope for the future, however clichéd it might sound- a strict no I felt like screaming!
Where Chetan has an edge over other writers in the current scenario is the grip he has on the subject he has mastered- engineering. His expose of the circle within circle at Kota, the Mecca of coaching to get into IIT is superlative.
Even the rickshawala of the city is a professional and as soon as he spots a student he starts his querry- medical or engineering, first timer or repeater. And then he rattles off the names of the best institutes of Kota, the Bansals and the others to show off that he is not illiterate.
The book has a positive ending possibly too optimistic to be real when the hero of the book, a journalist , predicts that by 2020 corruption in the education system will be over and politicians will not be able to set up educational institutions to convert their black money into white.
I would have resisted writing such a long piece on just another book but after watching a TV channel’s expose of the teachers in Bihar in the morning, who can’t even write the names of the 12 months of the year on the board correctly I realized that 2020 is too far away. We have to do something starting today to stem this rot and keep the children out of reach of such teachers.
It doesn’t matter if the children don’t know the name of their Chief Minister or the teachers don’t know the name of the President of the country- they all know only Modi- but if they can’t spell the 12 months of the year correctly even after being corrected by the reporter it turns a knife inside me.
By: Amitabh Srivastava
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