Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Some years back, a teacher at one of Bombay's most prestigious b-schools was sitting opposite me in the suburban local, grading answer papers. Between Bandra and Churchgate, a journey of less than thirty minutes, she went through 57 sheets, each of which had an essay type answer of not less than three handwritten pages of a full scape paper.
Her modus operendi was simple - read the name (doubtless make decisions based on perceived ability of student), flip the pages to count how many pages there were, take in the first paragraph, the last paragraph and one random paragraph in the middle, pen in grade with red ink on the front page and circle it, check the name again and put it aside.
At first, I was shocked - those kids have doubtlessly prepared for the exam and spent at least an hour each on writing the answer out - don't they at least deserve the courtesy of a full read? But soon, I got sucked into the rhythm - she had obviously taken grading answer sheets to a fine art. And even as I questioned her sincerity, I had to admire the dexterity with which she went about her job.
Only once did she falter. Just once, after she re-checked the name, she opened the sheet again, read a couple of paragraphs, then went back and amended the grade.
She could have been the study of countless experiments, but all I could think of was about how many innocent lives must have been destroyed through a system as faulty as the one I was seeing.
This is not the same lady, but the efficiency with which she graded answer sheets in the middle of Dadar station reminded me of her. I just had to take the photograph.