Home > Articles, Opinion > Of OK Rolls and Only Vimal jingle Brand obsession: Editorials on Mushrooming coaching institutes for various professional Courses

Of OK Rolls and Only Vimal jingle Brand obsession: Editorials on Mushrooming coaching institutes for various professional Courses

Brand name is the de-riguer in the corporate sector, more so in this age and time when the market is seen and understood as the indicator of everything that means anything in the lives of the people. For those who grew up in the 80s the ad jingle ‘Only Vimal’ will ring a bell as it became synonymous with the Reliance brand and it may be said that the super luxury, multi-storeyed building, touted as the costliest house built on Planet Earth and belonging to Mukesh Ambani rests on the foundation laid by the ad jingle-Only Vimal. Nirma became a brand in itself not only because it managed to challenge the monopoly of the multi-national giant Hindustan Lever but due to its clever marketing tactics where the name Nirma became a brand for the price conscious middle class Indian. Suddenly Surf was no longer the washing detergents available in the market. The name Xerox is  synonymous with the photostat gadget and the phrase, ‘Get this copy xeroxed’ has become a part of the Indian-English vocabulary.  There are examples galore, such as Colgate being equated with tooth paste and back home the typical chicken dish cooked with minimum gravy and heavy on the masala taking on the name OK Rolls from the popular eating joint,‘OK Hotel.’ These are but some of the examples of the brand names getting more familiar than the product and as long as this is limited to the marketing of consumer goods it is perfectly okay and some may say even desirable, after all the consumer is the King. However not everything is as simple and rosy as this,  when this trend enters the world of education.With   specialisation becoming the mantra of every branch of learning, education too is increasingly coming under the strain of branding. Things have taken such a turn that today the brand name of some institution has threatened to blank out everything else, even  merit and diligence. Union Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal had a point when he observed some time back that at least 25 to 30 seats in the IITs are wasted each year as these seats are occupied by IITians themselves. This may sound far fetched and beyond the realm of the believable, but what Mr Sibal said is not without merit, if we take into consideration the fact that the IITs are a brand in itself so much so that a student who cracks the tough Joint Entrance Examination but could not get admitted to the choice of his subject or stream, inevitably appears for the same examination the following year, while occupying the seat alloted to him/her the previous year. This is obsession with a brand name at its most obvious. The same may be the case with the IIMs and other reputed universities.

Manipur too has been bitten by the brand bug for quite a time now and this is most evident during the pre-medical examination conducted by the Directorate of Health, Government of Manipur, every year, to select students who will go on to don the white garb and be addressed by the venerable name ‘Doctor.’ The value placed on the medical profession is in keeping with reality and it is only right that the best brains be selected, for ultimately it is they on whom we are going to entrust our very life to at some point of time or the other. The question however remains and this is whether the best brains are being selected or not. It is the obsession with the brand name “Doctor” or “MBBS Course” that we are talking about. As in the preceding years, the majority of the candidates who cracked this year’s MBBS/BDS entrance examination conducted in Manipur were those who had sat for this same examination in the last two/three years. There were very few first timers who got through the written test and herein lies the uncomfortable question. Can we say that a student who managed to get through the written examination in the second or third attempt is a better student than the student who is appearing for the said entrance examination for the first time ? This question gains more credence in the backdrop of the fact that a number of top notch coaching institutes have sprung up in Imphal in the last couple of years. It is not uncommon to see and hear stories of how students did not seek admission in the Degree Course after their Class XII and instead opted to solely attend the coaching classes, preparing for the next MBBS/BDS entrance examination,thereby losing precious academic years. Is this a healthy trend ? Will society benefit ? More importantly will it serve the purpose of the student who had to undergo two or three years of gruelling coaching classes, going through the same subject matter again and again ? Such a trend is a sure shot recipe for reducing a student to something like a sponge, which is there to absorb everything without questioning whether what is being absorbed is good or bad. In the process the system is left to churn out a series of pre-programmed like students who cannot  think or are not encouraged to think out of the box.  The perfect potion to kill creativity.  The choice is before us. We have to decide whether we want to produce students like the products that are churned out from the assembly line of a Reliance or a Hindustan Lever or some living, breathing young people, who can be trusted to look beyond the obvious.

Sources: – The Sangai Express

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