Why you should not cheat


This is an article written by Vulture of Class XI (2018) on why nobody must cheat.

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Just like charity begins at home, corruption begins at school.

While we bemoan the numerous scams that the politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen indulge in, we forget where it all started — in the humble classroom in our schools. At that time, it is apparently innocuous — passing a chit, going to the toilet to talk to a friend, sneak a quick glance at your friend’s answer paper during the exam.

Of course, since the advent of technology, things have got a bit more sophisticated. In my school, which follows the CIE (IGCSE and A levels), the pre-board exam is often conducted using past question papers of those board exams. Now, the students, instead of treating the pre-boards as an opportunity to evaluate their own preparedness, prefer to cheat by downloading question papers and marking schemes.

Well, it is time to make it clear that I am not some holier-than-thou saint. I have a long history of cheating. In fact, the internet-download method that I talked about the pre-boards, I myself employed that last year before my own pre-boards. I was duly caught by my teachers, who proved to be smarter than I was.

However, having this background makes me uniquely qualified to write this article — as I understand from personal experience why students cheat, and now, on reflection, I also understand why they should not.

Cheating in the exams is somehow thought to be a harmless activity. It has the micro-cultural support — in the sense that your immediate community, your friends, classmates — do not look down upon it. The reason behind that is probably most exams are thought to be a sham, rather than a true benchmark of our performance. Just like people subconsciously justify not paying income tax because government waste our money anyway, some people justify cheating thinking that exams are worthless anyway.

However, most students do not think so deeply. For them, there is a short-term, opportunist outlook that’s at work. When I did it, I felt that I did not study enough for the Biology exam, and there was not much time left to do so. Scoring poor marks meant some dire consequences — scolding from teachers and parents, lack of respect from friends, and may be even not being allowed to sit for the final exam. So the decision was simple — I chose to take what I thought to be a small risk over certain failure.

But now I understand that this line of thinking makes little sense. The pre-boards were an opportunity for the school to know where I stand. If the school felt I was doing very poorly, it could have taken remedial measures — improving my scores in the final exam. In the final board exams, there would not be any scope to cheat anyway by downloading the question paper — and my real levels will be known to everyone, so why postpone the inevitable? Thinking this way, I understood that cheating was just a myopic decision which causes long-term damage.

I have seen others cheating who were not at risk of failure, but wanted to get better marks than their preparation would have given them. The driver here was probably some additional praise from teachers and look of respect from classmates. But this too makes little sense — because this is temporary. You cannot always cheat, and the only way to consistently do well is to prepare well.

Cheating is not a friendly act. When I did well by cheating in the biology exam, a few of my friends, who normally score more than me, got lower marks than me in that exam. They were demotivated as a result. This is one of the normal outcomes of cheating — that it demotivates your close friends and disincentivises honest work. It breeds an arms race, where others may start cheating to remain competitive. If cheating is undetected, it might give honest ones a false sense of inferiority which may dent their long-term confidence.

There is a long-term consequence as well for the person who cheats. If not caught, he may be emboldened to continue cheating. At some point, his actions may catch up with him. The consequences are far worse if the comeuppance comes in the adult life, where you may have copied someone’s work in the office, or stole a code, or revealed a trade secret.

If caught, then the cheat remains under a shadow. Once a criminal always a suspect. In recent times, once I scored very well in a math test, but my teachers looked at me suspiciously. It is because of my history that’s not yet erased. Your genuine achievements may come under cloud due to your past wrongdoings. Reputation is what counts in life, why give it up for minor gains?

Cheating (or any act of dishonesty) imposes a lot of costs in society. I remember my teacher explaining that they have to conduct repeat tests, have special seating arrangement, many invigilators — all of these are costly affairs which can be avoided only if the students follow an honour code. But instead if we want to game the system every time there is an opportunity to game it, it just makes life harder for everyone.

Want to be stupid, friendless and unproductive? Sleep less.


This is an article that Fluffy, Nonny, and X (Class XI, 2018) jointly wrote, exhorting you to sleep at least 9 hours every night.

Mr-Bean-Matchstick-Eyes-Funny-Image.jpgLet’s get it straight right at the outset — sleeping less than 9 hours a day makes you dumb, irritable and disease-prone. It will decrease your scores, it will reduce the number of friends you have, it will reduce the number of years you will live.

But most of you end up sleeping only 7 or 7.5 hours a night. That’s criminal. Let us tell you why. Stay with us while we explain it fully. This will be long.

Before you start thinking that we are just preaching something we don’t practice, let us admit that we are not the epitomes of discipline either. For years, we have slept less than the prescribed 9 hours, and most of the ill-effects that you see described here have been drawn from our own experience. That’s why you should heed us. We know what we are talking about.

One final point. Though we give you plenty of stories from our lives, we don’t draw our conclusions from those only. The points that come after are backed by solid science. We must always trust science, over our lazy instincts.

Let’s begin, then.

One of the greatest effects of sleep loss is mental laziness. A couple of years back, many of us had just created Gmail accounts and we would stay up late at night, chatting with each other. The next day in class, Sir would be the only one speaking (even though it was supposed to be a group discussion, and not a lecture) and the rest of us would be staring blankly, often not even registering what he said. We didn’t realize then that this was due to lack of sleep, so despite numerous scoldings, the classroom “discussions” remained as boring as ever.

Not only do conversations become dull, but productivity also diminishes due to lack of sleep. For example, we read more slowly, or solve sums more slowly when we sleep less. Nowhere that’s more vividly demonstrated than the SAT scores — which dramatically improve after a month of solid 9-hour sleep.

Less sleep makes you forget things. Motu was once supposed to inform class X that their exam was going to start at 8:00. Evidently his brain had switched off on the short journey from the conference room to admin computer lab. By the time he reached there, he had changed the time to 8:30. Had he slept enough each night, a blunder such as this would surely not have occurred. As you can see, lack of sleep can reduce your sharpness.

As opposed to that, consider Nonny, whose SAT math score rose dramatically from a mere 720 to a near perfect 790 after she started sleeping at appropriate times. So clearly, lack of sleep can prevent you from reaching your true potential.

The consequences can get more damaging as you grow older. Senior students often have to study a lot and prepare for exams. With the burden of textbooks on our shoulders, we tend to think that sleeping too much will result in a lot of wastage of time. There are two flaws with this argument.

Firstly, most people tend to waste zillions of hours engaging in other frivolous activities. Those hours would be better spent sleeping. Secondly, the dichotomy between sleep and work is non-existent. Sleep is the time when new memories are processed in the brain. So if you spend too much time studying and too little time sleeping, you won’t be able to remember much of what you read. In other words, you may spend all your time staring at your books, but you won’t learn anything if you don’t sleep on your new knowledge.

The ill-effects of lack of sleep isn’t just confined to work. Sleep can make you happier as well. Consider Dos, who sleeps nine hours every night. No matter what is hurled at him, be it a scolding or a bad result, Dos is never downcast. On the other hand, GG sleeps for only six hours every night. No wonder she is always staring into the middle distance with a vacuous, melancholic expression.

If all of this isn’t worrying enough, imagine a scenario far into the future when you have already spent a good number of years not sleeping properly. Well, you might not actually have to imagine it because we already have a living example of such a person in our school. Mule was once one of the sharpest and brightest students of our school. But of late, he has started going to sleep very late. Now, in class, he often asks questions that are either utterly irrelevant, or were answered one hour back. He is getting mostly Bs and Cs in the pre-boards, even though Path 2s are expected to get a string of As and A*s.

Apart from making you dumb over time, sleep deprivation can also take a toll on your health. Because sleep boosts immunity, lack of sleep can make you fall sick more often. You’ll understand that this is true if you have ever had a fever and recovered quickly after a whole day of sleep.

Furthermore, growth hormones are released in the body during sleep. To prove our point, let’s take the example of Fluffy. For many years, Fluffy would be going to sleep at one o’clock in the night. As a result, she is now smaller than many of the class six girls in our school.

Sleep loss also makes you fat. Sleep promotes the release of hunger-suppressing hormones. As a result, when you are sleep deprived, you tend to eat more than you need to.

All the health benefits resulting from sleep finally enhances athletic performance. Even if you don’t care that much about your mental abilities decaying, you surely don’t want to become a bedridden, obese dwarf.

‘Well, all that is fine, but I genuinely don’t feel sleepy’, you might say. Maybe you don’t, but that is only because of modern inventions such artificial lights and gadgets. Naturally, there isn’t any light after sunset. So evolutionarily, we are built to go to sleep at that time. However, these modern technologies now keep you awake beyond the biological sleeping time. So, try to discipline yourself to switch off all lights and avoid all gadgets (e.g. TV, smartphone) at least half an hour before going to bed. That way, you may find it easier to fall asleep at an appropriate time.

And if all of this fails to convince you, ask yourself, why would you even want to stay awake and suffer in a world as horrible as this one?

Why I chose Path 1


Bhau (Class XI, 2018-19) explains why he joined Path 1.

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What bananas can teach us

Look at these three bananas.

I bought the first one from a fruitseller near the municipality office in Suri. I took a photo of it before having it.

I bought the second one from the newly opened More supermarket at Suri. I took a photo of it too and then ate it. I must say, that taking the photo of the second one was more pleasurable than eating it.

The first one didn’t look as good as the second one, but tasted far superior. The second banana which looked healthier, had a more pleasing colour, and had fewer wrinkles, tested bland and powder-y.

I downloaded the photo of the third one from the web. They say it is from a supermarket from a developed country. It does look far better than our first and second banana. Longer, more perfect in shape. But going by the trend, maybe it will be even more tasteless than the second banana!

Things that look good may not always taste good.

Things that sound good may not always give you a good experience.

For example, ‘Stanford University’ sounds good, but who knows whether it is going to be the best for you? ‘Investment banking’ sounds good, but have you actually talked to an investment banker to know how his job is? Come on, even IIT sounded quite good before Sir explained why it may not be great.

To judge what might give you a good experience, you need to actually experience it, or at least you need to think deeply about it.

When it came to choosing the ‘path’, I was not lured by what sounds good. I knew I already experienced the best place in the world.

To tell you the truth, I did not always know this is the best place in the world. I liked it here, sure, but I thought surely the world outside must be full of such places like our school, even better ones.

Wisdom came suddenly, when I visited Delhi with Sir to attend a conference. A high-level educational conference, attended by many principals, even senior members from the ministry. There were many speeches, panel discussions. There were many informal conversations I had with people.

During the whole of that time, I did not meet even as many sensible, intelligent people as I have inside my tiny, 12-student classroom.

I understood that the world outside may not be as advanced as we thought.

But I am happy to report I met one interesting person. Well, he would fit right in here at our school. A senior journalist from the Economic Times, we had a great dinner together. Many interesting conversations, almost as good as our class discussions. But one thing that he told Sir stuck with me.

He said, “Your boys will find it very difficult to adjust to the world outside. After Levelfield, everything else will seem a compromise, second-rate.”

Sir said, “No, no, they will not go to such second-rate places — my students will go to top universities abroad — Harvard, Princeton, Yale etc.”

He replied with a smile, “Yes, even those places will be unsatisfactory for them.”

That comment suddenly put everything into perspective. I understood why I found the conference so unsatisfactory. I also understood the look of utter admiration that I see from some of the visitors that we meet at the school.

I must talk a bit about the visitors.

Me and Motu are often entrusted to talk to the visitors, show them around. There are many school principals who come. There are some who wants to build a school. Some are journalists who are sent to cover the school. Regardless of their motive, their background, almost all of them are awed by what they see here.

They cannot believe that such a place exists. They cannot talk enough about it. There is invariably a look of utter admiration on their faces, looking at what has been achieved here in less than ten years.

Given the pace of progress, I know even more will be achieved in the next ten years, and I am absolutely sure that I want to part of that creation.

Why would I like to go out in the imperfect world when I can be a part of building perfection?

Why I joined Path 1


Motu (Class XI, 2018-19) explains why he joined Path 1.

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To answer that, let me go back to June 2016, when I spent quite a few evenings with Sir, working on designing the five pre-primary apps that our school made.

It was a great time. We discussed, debated and felt intellectually challenged. Whenever we hit a roadblock, Sir was always ready with a solution. We took just an evening each to design each of these apps. We then got them coded, and very soon we could see the fruits of our work inside the baby classrooms. It felt very satisfying that we identified a problem, quickly designed a technological solution, and very soon our product is being used on a daily basis.

I read in many articles (particularly in Philosopher’s mail) that it is very difficult in the modern world to see the connection between what you do in your office, and the final product that your company produces. That seemed scary. In future, I wanted to do something that has a more direct impact.

In our school, I have always been involved in various kinds of work. I helped out during the contest week and sports days. I talked to the parents to explain our school’s apps. I fixed many technological issues in the computer lab. I worked on and tested many of the apps that the school produced. I loved working on all of those, because I could see how they are immediately useful. I wanted to continue to do work that’s relevant and useful.

Our school taught us a lot of relevant and useful stuff. We learnt to speak well. From an early age, we learnt to navigate internet and use MS Office. We learnt a lot from the movies shown in the school. We learnt from books like Sapiens. We learnt to concisely write while using Twitter. Every activity in the school helped us grow and mature.

However, of late, after reaching class IX, I felt it was not the same as before. We had to study ‘subjects’ which are not immediately relevant. Even history, one of my most loved subjects, became one of the hated due to the invasion of textbooks. In our school, economics was about explaining real-life issues, but in the board exam we are asked to define ‘unemployment’ or ‘GDP’.

Please do not misunderstand — even those boring, irrelevant stuff was taught very well by Sir. He made those as interesting as possible. He even tried to give inventive reasons why we must learn those: ‘Real life is boring, so these textbooks are a preparation for that’, or ‘Learning this obscure math will sharpen your mind and improve your focus, which is useful for other activities.’

But as much as he tried, I knew I liked the relevant learning far more than the textbook learning. Prodded relentlessly by Sir, we all did well in the board exams, but I wanted to get back to our old life where learning was connected to real-life. I did not want many more years of textbook driven learning, which would be exactly what’s on offer if I had chosen Path 2.

I wanted to get back to organizing events, designing apps, learning to speak in front of an audience, reading great books. I wanted to get started on real life sooner. I did not want to waste time reading stuff you have no use for.

In case you are thinking that in Path 2, in the Western universities, learning will be totally relevant, you are probably wrong. Even the Cambridge board, which has a more modern syllabus than the Indian boards, is still focused on subjects most people will not use. There are no courses in most boards or universities on the skills that’s most needed in life: speaking, writing, coding, working with people.

So I will get started on working early, doing a degree from University of London after my 12th, sitting right here, working part-time for the school. I regret the fact that I still have to do this degree, which I know will add nothing to me in terms of learning (neither will any other degree that most of you will be doing).

But our society has not yet advanced enough to accept something as radical as not doing graduation! So useless as it is, I will go forward with it. At least it gives me a chance to devote most of my time to the school, learning real stuff by working.

The only thing I may still be interested in studying for is programming. Our school automates a lot of stuff through technology, and I have been part of that initiative in the past. In future too, I would like to be part of that effort. However, making software will be far easier if we ourselves can code. So that’s one skill I want to study for.

Sir tells me that there are 12-week long coding boot camps in California where we might go after we finish A level board exams. That will be an exciting thing to learn, and I am sure it will be quite useful for the school too.

Overall, I am quite happy that I have chosen this path where my work will be relevant and useful, where I will not waste many years of my life pursuing a useless degree, but where I would still continue to learn at a fast pace.

Why I joined Path 1


In the recent essay writing contest organized by the school, the students were supposed to write about their ‘purpose’ in life; how they are going to help make the world a better place.

Path 1s were not asked to write the essay, presumably because they are supposed to have already found their purpose. But Goody Goody thought of writing an essay anyway, explaining why she has chosen path 1.

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I’m not going to spend a long time discussing how great our school experience has been — this is one topic all of us students agree. We learnt real skills, had a lot of fun, grew up faster yet remained children. We learnt from movies, literature and puzzles. Our classroom discussions were free-flowing. Teachers (I had only one teacher though, throughout my school life) were more like friends. There were so many great things about the school that I can fill a whole book writing about those. But this essay is not about that. Here I want to talk about my chosen path, and why I have made such a choice.

To tell you the truth, I began writing about it some time back as Sir told me a newsmagazine is interested in publishing such an unusual story. But in the midst of all the classes that I take as a teacher, and all the classes that I study in as a student, and balancing all the preparatory workload of being a teacher and student at the same time, I could never progress much in this writing.

However, yesterday I had the chance of reading through some of the essays written by my classmates and my juniors — and that made me feel that I must share my experience. Most of those essays were well-written (as expected from the students of this school), but most of you did not think deeply about what you are going to do in the future.

When it came to making my choice on the 4th of June this year, after the ‘path’ breaking meeting which Sir had with the parents, I was absolutely clear about what I wanted to do. I am lucky to get a great education in this school and I was sure I wanted to help spread this education so that many more students can benefit from it.

In our school we have always discussed that being an insignificant ‘cog’ in a meaningless corporate wheel is not a great idea. In many cases, you may end up adding to the excess of the world, and at the same time yourself leading an unsatisfied life. Running a business, rather a ‘social’ business is a better idea — but I knew it was a tremendously difficult task. From many of Sir’s articles and class discussions, I was acutely aware of the challenges he faced, and what a herculean effort it took to overcome those. I did not want to go through that, and I’m not arrogant enough to claim that I would make it through the process. But what was the need to redo the same thing anyway? Sir has already made it happen for us. If I want to lead a life of significance, and if I want to contribute to the society, what is better than working in the very school which I believe is the best school in the world?

I would have been very happy to join the school as a mere teacher. Our classes are great fun and I would have liked nothing better than teaching kids Animal Farm, or Mughal Series, or showing them movies like ‘The Lives of Others’. I joined Levelfield from a Bengali medium school in class V, and initially I struggled a bit with English. It would have given me great pleasure to help students learn to speak, read and write better English.

However, the Path 1 offer was much more than being a teacher. We are to work closely with Sir to help him run the school. We know that our school responds to change fast, and every year we do something new. For example, last year we had the Twitter initiative, and this year we had the internship program. It would be great to be part of a place which is always thinking and changing. It would be great to design and implement new ideas in response to changing situations.

In all of these new initiatives, we students played a part. When our school was launching the Delta software, we were the first students to test it thoroughly. One day, right in the class, in front of us, Sir designed the magic square algorithm. He started by saying it is something which is quite difficult to do — he started explaining to us why it is difficult, and very soon he was onto the full logic of it. I remember being quite excited when that algorithm translated into a full-fledged app.

So I hope when I would work in the school, in addition to being a teacher, I would be part of something new every year. I hear most corporate jobs are reasonably routine. In contrast, I hope to be part of something new, exciting, and challenging every year.

I would also be leading a ‘campus life’ throughout my life. Instead of an anonymous and lonely life in a city, I would be part of a community — a community of like-minded people who all have joined (and will join) path 1, like me. I know I spent some of my best times with my friends in the school, and in path 1 I can continue to have their company.

I would also be living in the school with this community. I imagine playing badminton or TT in the evening after a hectic day at school. I imagine sitting down in the library with a hardcover book. I imagine having dinner with my friends in the newly constructed large dining area, bursting out in laughter just as we do during our lunch now. I imagine taking a walk on the tennis-court road, discussing Harari’s new book, or some new plan that we are going to launch.

I know I am not going to miss the commute in the suburban trains. I will live in a place with absolutely modern infrastructure, but from my room I will be able to see green fields. I will not worry about polluted air. I will not worry about money either, as we will probably make more than IIM-grads.

I will have to work hard, as I already do, but I hope it will make some real difference. More importantly, I know, directed by Sir, the work here will always be world class. I hope to continue learning, continue playing and continue having fun. I hope to be happy, as everyone does.

I hope all of you also choose your path prioritizing happiness, of yourself and others, over everything else.

The schools of life


Here’s another short story written by Koka of Class XI (2018) about how animals would view our world, if they could express themselves.

(First part of this story called ‘A Strange New Society’ is also available in the blog) 

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Humans had always been a distant mysterious creature to me. Living in the forest, I had come across many stories about them, mostly about their cruelty. In the past few months, the cases of animal deaths had suddenly skyrocketed, all of which were being linked to the increasing number of human visits to the forest.

Scary though they sounded, I had never had the opportunity to see a human for myself. It made me wonder; what exactly was it that had made them such threatening creatures.

This was the case until yesterday….

As I was making my way through the forest, I felt a tall, colourful creature cross the path ahead and disappear behind a tree. I had never encountered such a creature before and it piqued my curiosity, as I approached it and asked, “What animal are you?”

“I am a human. Please don’t kill me!” It said rather fearfully.

A human? What is so sinister about this creature? It doesn’t look as big and powerful and an elephant. Neither does it look as fierce as a lion. On the contrary, it seemed more frightened of me!

“Don’t worry! I am not going to eat you. But you’ll also have to return my favour.”

“Anything…. I’ll do anything for you!”

But what could I ask for from a human?

Then an idea struck….

“I am really intrigued by the thought of humans and would like to know more about them. Could you take me to your society?”

 

***

Early morning today the human and I got out of my cave to head towards the city.

My guide led the way and I followed him. Upon entering the city I immediately understood that today was a special occasion. A large crowd of humans were gathered around a single man covered in garlands who was speaking and making exaggerated gestures at the same time.

I asked my guide who he was. My guide replied that he was the leader of the people.

“So, how is this person chosen?” I asked, “Do you organise fights within your community and then declare the winner as the leader?” In the forest the leader of a pack was chosen by a fight among the competing wolves. Due to this very efficient way of choosing leaders, naturally the best wolf in the pack became leader.

“No!”, my guide replied, “Every few years the people competing to become the leader hold rallies like this and try to convince others that they are the best. Then the people choose who they would like as their leader.”

So just by speaking, people can become leaders. It’s strange that the humans don’t check whether he is actually good at what he’s claiming.

Of the torrent of words escaping his mouth, the two most frequently occurring ones were ‘Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’. It seemed that he was arguing vehemently against the Muslims.

I asked my guide who were these ‘Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’. Are they like tiger and deer, one predator one prey?

“No.” My guide replied, “They are both humans.”

“So,” I wondered aloud, “they must be like two packs who are having a territorial dispute.”

“No,” the human said, “both Hindus and Muslims live in this city.”

So Hindus and Muslims were of the same species and they were not different packs fighting over territory. I couldn’t understand what exactly their fight was about.

Suddenly the leader’s arguments became even more vehement.“We will bury them!” He screamed. “If Pakistan throws one bomb at India, we will bombard them with ten. We will prove ourselves to be a stronger nation.”

I asked my guide what a ‘nation’ was.

“A nation is the piece of land that we live on.” He replied.

“So, how can you make a piece of land stronger?” I fired back.

My question was met with a look of bewilderment on my guide’s face.

“And what are ‘India’ and ‘Pakistan’?”

“The nation that we live in is India, Pakistan is our neighbouring nation.”

“So what are the differences between different nations? Are they different habitats like forests and deserts? Or are they places with totally different climates from one another?”

My guide seemed very puzzled at these questions; perhaps he had always accepted these things as the truth and never found them to be unnatural.

Now he replied, “I have never been to Pakistan but I have heard that it is pretty much the same as India.”

So why was the leader differentiating between Pakistan and India? Why was he inciting people against a very similar place where similar people lived? Not wishing to confuse my guide any further, I kept these questions to myself.

Not being able to bear the rally anymore, I asked my guide to take me to some other place. In the process of asking my guide, I saw several identical human beings crossing the road. Instantly my curiosity was piqued.

“Who are these?” I asked.

“These are students. They all study in a school.”

“But why do they all look the same?”

“All students have to wear the same clothes so that they can be identified with their school.”

“What’s the point of that?”

But my guide seemed to be in no better position to answer my question.

I demanded to be taken to a school to see the what happened inside. So my guide led me to the nearest school.

Inside I saw a woman showing the children pictures of various kinds of soil and speaking. I asked my guide what she was doing.

“She is teaching geography. In this particular class she is teaching them where all in India minerals are found under the ground.”

“Oh” I said, “so these children are all going to dig the ground for these minerals when they grow up.”

“No, most of them won’t.”

“So why are they filling their heads up with things that they are never going to see outside this class room?”

My guide was completely stumped by this question. Probably he had also learnt about minerals under the ground.

Remembering the true purpose of the visit I asked my guide to take me to some place more entertaining.

He replied, “I have been planning to take you to a movie since the beginning, if you want we can go there.”

Intrigued by this thing called the movie I agreed. My guide then led the way to the theatre, the place where the movie was supposed to be screened.

On the way to the theatre I saw a large poster in which there was a picture of a car and a woman beside it. Since the woman did not seem to have anything to do with the car, I asked my guide what this poster was.

“It is the advertisement of a car,” he replied, “Using this the makers of the car try to sell the car to people like me.”

“What about the woman? Do you get the woman as well when you buy that car?”

“No obviously not!” The human exclaimed.

“So why is the woman there beside the car?”

“I don’t know why, but the woman makes me feel like buying the car even more.”

Not fully satisfied but seeing that my guide was unable to provide a better explanation, I moved on.

The movie theatre was a large building with a long queue of humans in front of it. My guide stood in the queue and bought tickets for both of us. Before the movie started there was a deluge of advertisements similar to the one that I saw in the poster outside. After almost half an hour the movie started. After watching for a while, the only thing that I was able to understand was that a fair person seemed to be outwitting a dark skinned person at every step and beating him up during any confrontation.

In the forest the skin colour of the animals did not matter at all. In fact, I was dark skinned myself, and I seemed to be doing fine! No white wolf was coming and beating me up every once in a while.

I looked at my guide with questions in my eyes, but he was too enthralled with the movie to look at me.

I slipped outside silently. The city terrified me. However, the artificial laws which suffocated me seemed to sustain these humans. They found differences when there were none, discriminated arbitrarily, and filled the heads of their children with information they were never going to use.

I thanked my fortune that I had the option of living in a place far more simple and authentic. I ran towards it.

Dr. Strangelove: A Movie That’s Still As Relevant As Ever


This is a review of the movie ‘Dr. Strangelove’ by Nonny of Class XI (2018).

In today’s world, humankind has power like never before. Technological and scientific advancements have elevated human beings to the position of gods, providing them with the ability to destroy the entire planet by simply pushing a button. But what happens when these deadly weapons are placed in the hands of petty, vengeful fanatics who are no better than children?

That is the central theme of the movie ‘Dr Strangelove’. A parody of the Cold War, ‘Dr Strangelove’ portrays the famous rivalry between America and the Soviet Union as something utterly pointless, and at times even comical.

The movie starts off by introducing Jack Ripper, a general in the U.S. airforce who feels strong hatred and suspicion towards the Communists. Feeling that the U.S. government wasn’t taking a tough enough stance towards the Russians, he decides to take matters in his own hands. Things spiral out of control after he orders the bombers under his command to attack Russia.

The events that follow show how a small incident such as what Jack Ripper did can have immense, unintended consequences. As news of this incident reaches the ‘War Room’, the President of the United States panics since he is unable to figure out a way to recall the airplanes that are now heading towards Russia. Further alarm is caused by the news that any attack on Russia will automatically trigger the ‘doomsday machine’, a machine that would destroy all life on earth.

By demonstrating the huge consequences of such a trivial event, the movie implies that there was actually no substantial reason behind all the animosity between the two superpowers. ‘Dr Strangelove’ makes fun of the Cold War by depicting it as an event that wreaked a lot of unnecessary damage, while being completely absurd and meaningless. This applies not only to the Cold War, but also to the all the other battles waged between nations in the last century. In the end, they were all really just petty squabbles that, masked and glorified by values such as patriotism, were taken much more seriously than they should have been.

In more modern times, giving these squabbles more importance than they deserve could have dangerous consequences. Empowered by scientific advances, leaders of nations could now annihilate entire civilizations at will, and ‘Dr Strangelove’ shows that the leaders of the past were indeed at the brink of doing so for all sorts of trifling reasons.

We may think that our current leaders are more responsible than the ones of the past, but that’s not really so. The kind of god-like power that humankind now has should not exist with anyone, because the risk of it falling into the wrong hands is too great. If Kim Jong Unlost his temper on one fine day and decided to push that button, we are all as good as dead.

Likewise, the movie ‘Dr Strangelove’ ends with a scene that shows mushroom clouds erupting everywhere, portending the end of the world. The chain of events that followed Jack Ripper’s actions demonstrate the extent of the damage that can be wreaked by one deranged zealot wielding toys too powerful for him to handle. And when we really think about it, aren’t some of our current world leaders very much the same?