The Elitism Challenge

I have not written my blog posts for the past few weeks, and I am not claiming the usual excuse of having been “tremendously” busy. Some of my friends indeed asked “hey, what happened, we don’t see you online anymore”, but I just shrugged off. There is actually no real reason for “not” blogging, but there usually is one for blogging.

I am resuming blogging now with a topic which is intriguing. I am not an elitist by any sense of the word. But sometimes I used to feel like one, when I get tagged to some prestigeous club, even when I did not want to. One good example is my famous post-graduate institute in India, known for turning out amazing managers who create wealth all over the world. There are over couple of thousands of these managers just in Singapore – not just from the particular campus I hailed from (Bangalore), but also from other campuses of the same brand (IIM – Indian Institutes of Management). There are several such examples.

When there is only a very limited set of folks in a grouping which has an “admission” pricing mechanism, then the society gets divided. Either you have the money or capability to get into the club or not. When I studied at IIM, I did not have the money but I had the ability to get into one of the Institutes from amongst the thousands of people who applied for just 600 seats during my time. But that still does not distinguish me in any way, as the temporary skills required to break through a glass ceiling are not sustainable, and do not compare with prescient skills that could have been existing in society but which are not offered the chance to excel. The education system is rigged to favour folks with money and skills to crack the admission tests. In order to train for the admission tests, one needs to have money. All this stratifies the society into “haves” and “have-nots”.

The “haves” progress in life as the set of circumstances which got them into the elitist grouping in the first place persist and sustain due to the intrinsic nature of the group. The institution concerned helps in the process, and employers (even today) look for “education branding” and then at the skill sets, thereby further stratifying an already elitist cloud of people.

One can argue for eternity the impact of such elitists on society, but my conclusion is to the left of the centre. There are more wicked and self-centred elitists out there as we have seen from such torrid examples of Wall Street excesses in the U.S. which have impacted unassuming commoners around the world. If the purpose of capitalism is to leverage the elitist intelligentsia produced by the leading educational institutions, who might lack moral and ethical attitudes and compulsions, then the results of what have transpired over the past three decades on Wall Street can easily be explained as the greed of the elitists.

While I totally agree that there are excellent philanthropists amongst the elitists, examples of excesses abound to such an extent that one starts wondering whether it is worth associating with elitists who claim fame from their association and involvement with a specific grouping.

I have slowly extricated myself from any association of any kind, and have become neutral to ensure that any vestiges of elitism that are still left in me due to past membership and “pride-of-place” associations vanish from my head and my heart. That was also one reason why I refused to buy a second-hand Mercedes or BMW, and instead opted for a Nissan as I believe Nissan and similar brands represent the common society which cannot afford to display a fake wealth and thereby falsely inspire an association in the minds of the people one is involved with. It is not necessary for people to check out what car you are driving, but they do. It is in their nature to check out. And BMW gives them a false sense of association in that it categorizes one as having arrived at his place in this world. All this is hogwash by the way.

In a nutshell, I have shunned being an elitist or part of the intelligentsia, and tend to keep my views neutral as far as possible – this does not mean that I cannot express views which sometimes support the elitists, like when I extended my support to Candidate Donald Trump. Principles cannot be sacrificed at the altar of elitism or common society, and need to be argued out with everyone.

I also know now that most elitists do not read my blog. My contrarian views and not insignificant positions on matters which are “sensitive” conflict with their views on life. Most elitists exclude the commoner from their calculation, and I would rather choose to be a commoner in a socialistic society which cares for its downtrodden than a member of elitist groups which care for their image, wealth, cars, and “elitist” views on everything under the sun which differentiates them from the commoner on the street.


Vijay Srinivasan

5th June 2016









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