It’s been 25 years since I and my batchmates graduated from IIM Calcutta. In my case, ‘graduation’ may not be an entirely correct word to use; it’s more likely that the institute simply got tired of me: ‘good riddance’ could very well have been the term muttered darkly by my unfortunate professors. However, be that as it may etc, in the last week of December this year, our batch is descending on that beautiful campus with its lakes and ducks and cats for our silver jubilee reunion. Facebook posts are flying in from every inhabited continent, urging people to land up, book early, and ‘no spouses please’, unless he or she is also a batchmate. Nostalgia pervades, a weapon of mass mobilisation. The best days of our lives, remember that incident about Sam and the firecrackers, where the hell is Chaddi, why does this FB group have only 68 members when our batch had nearly 140 people, why can’t we have a Mallika Sherawat night, I met Chaddi in Nairobi in 2002...you get the general sense.
Alumni cults have been there as long as there have been alumni. These are Freemasonries without strange initiation rituals—ragging has been banned by law for two decades now, but that certainly used to be an initiation rite in many institutes—or coded handshakes. And these cults don’t allow lateral entry; there is no room at all for late entrants. Either you are part of the cult, or you can never be. You may be willing to pay a king’s ransom to get in, but it just isn’t possible. I don’t care who you are, mate, and what car you drive—you didn’t go to Doon School, so you are not part of the Dosco club; try, maybe your next generation can make it.