Of marriage, MBA and communication skills!

I just saw this blogpost by Rashmi Bansal. She’s blogging after a rather long break and it’s good to see her back! But, to get back to the point, she touches upon issues that are varied and yet pertinent and most probably interconnected. As far as small-town, tier 3 B-schools are concerned, the truth is that today, a B-school degree is “buyable”. You don’t need any degree of competence or intelligence to actually acquire an MBA and apart from the top-rung institutions, not many B-schools offer quality management education. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, but B-schools, by and large, money-spinners rather than educational institutions.

I think Rashmi is better-qualified to comment on the state of management education in India that I am. My concern for the moment is the plight of that girl who is a first-year B-school student and whose parents want to see her married to a “suitable boy”. As far as the marriage market is concerned, it’s a case of “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” A girl needs to acquire a decent degree, better still, a post-graduate degree to be considered a “saleable” commodity in the marriage market. After all, every man wants a smart, well-educated and articulate wife. Even better if the said post-graduate degree is a “professional” one! But that’s where we draw the line. A smart, well-educated, articulate, beautiful girl who has a degree or three must however, not be assertive or have a mind of her own. You’re damned if you choose not to study beyond the mandatory first degree because nobody wants a dumb bride! You’re also damned if you make unconventional life choices and study beyond the universally-accepted MBA!

So, the ideal scenario would be that a woman acquire those desirable traits to make herself desirable in the marriage market. And pray, what are those desirable traits? A post-graduate degree (preferably in management) but not more, articulate speech, beauty (a.k.a a bleached “fair and lovely” fairness), and a desire to be a doormat for the rest of her life! What have you? Do they even make women this way any more? More and more women I know are working not because they have to, but because they want to. More and more women are choosing to make careers and not just get jobs. But, the attitude of the men doesn’t seem to be changing. Ok! Perhaps I am being a bit harsh here. Men are changing, they are beginning to accept and even appreciate brains in a woman. But their parents still seem stuck in the 13th Century!

When will we, as a society get over this dual obsession: of acquiring pointless “professional” degrees nobody ever uses and of finding our children “suitable” boys and girls? When will we understand that the number of degrees you possess is no indicator of just how intelligent you are? When will we manage to figure out that intelligent is an asset and not a liability? If ever!

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