Vinayak Sahi, Class of 2020 Credits: Ashoka University An economics major must realise beforehand that nothing in
Yash Budhwar, Founding Undergraduate Batch
When I graduated from Ashoka University just over a year ago, I was looking forward to my very first professional full-time working experience. Armed with a diverse group of knowledge sets, I felt ready to take on the world. The jolt that I received when I started working, though, told another story.
Students at Ashoka are usually captivated by lectures, and so was I. Learning about the variety of subjects opened my mind to a world of new possibilities, and showed me the vast crevasses that exist in this world of knowledge. As my knowledge-base sifted through the holes of deep analysis and questioning, secrets began to get revealed, and I started seeing the world more clearly.
Such a knowledge-base is extremely helpful when writing an academic paper, or during casual discussions, but how can one envision using such knowledge in an entrenched corporation, like a multi-national bank? This question; how can liberal arts be reconciled with decades-worth of entrenched capitalistic principles, is one that is still sought-after today. Some fault the corporations for being close-minded, and others fault the academic institutions for setting their students on the path of academia, supposedly outside the realm of the “real world”. So, the question of whether Ashoka has helped me in my workplace deals with this divergence. But, is this divergence necessary? It is not, according to me.
My time at Ashoka certainly helped me a lot: when you learn about philosophy, literature, mathematics, history, psychology, and economics, you not only acquire a varied skill-set, but you, more importantly, learn to accept a multiplicity of opinions and viewpoints. You learn to interact with an interdisciplinary crowd, one that is crisscrossing onto each other’s learning paths. You imbibe tolerance, respect, and patience. Ashoka also taught me the art of writing, communicating, understanding, and listening. This came about from my interactions with my peers, professors, and through the back-and-forth, I had with the multitude of disciplines that were on offer. However, I will concede that communicating with my peers was a whole lot simpler because they were subject to an education that was very similar to mine. This is where I feel Ashoka has fallen short.
Interacting and enacting tolerance when communicating with someone who is an entrenched by-product of the Indian society, I feel, is a completely different matter altogether. The ‘Ashoka Quest’ project was proposed to bridge this particular gap, but that fell through, unfortunately.
Speaking personally, Ashoka also did not help me get acclimated with the life of a corporate job, in terms of the mundane and monochromatic nature of the work one has to perform, as I discovered when I entered this world. I feel that someone who would have come from another background, say a B.B.A. graduate, would have been better prepared than I was. It could have been my fault as well, though, as I myself had never experienced such a work culture through an internship. It could also, however, be due to the divergence between liberal arts and the entrenched moneyed enterprises.
In conclusion, I feel that Ashoka should focus on bridging these objectives. If the university is falling short, I would suggest the students take this up themselves. When I used to travel back home during my time at Ashoka, I was always met with an unfamiliarity and a wandering sense of being. These are the emotions that my fellow batch-mates are going through after graduating this year. This is normal for an Ashoka student; bridging the gap between the liberal arts and the Indian society, not to mention the ‘corporate’ life, was never going to be an easy task, and the university has some way to go on that front. Are we, however, equipped enough for the tantalizing journey ahead of all of us? Ashoka has definitely made sure that we are.
Yash is a member of the Founding Undergraduate batch of Ashoka University, where he majored in Economics. After graduating, he worked with Citibank for 10 months. He is now an Editor at The Indian Express in New Delhi. His hobbies include fitness, sports, cooking, travelling and nature. Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org