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Baby goes out with the bathwater

Baby goes out with the  bathwater
Highlights

A congenital cynic that I am, I have all my life believed that just as one may smile and smile and yet be a villain one may have beavered away at...

A congenital cynic that I am, I have all my life believed that just as one may smile and smile and yet be a villain one may have beavered away at a toil all one's life and yet not have acquired basic knowledge about it. That is why on those rare occasions when someone, in a weaker moment, thought that, by virtue of my having been a journalist, however nondescript, for decades, I might be invited to be on the selection committee when aspiring journalists were interviewed for appointment, I either politely declined the invitation on grounds of imagined illness or equally non-existent workload.My real worry in either case was that I would be found it, if you, dear reader, know what I mean! But about five years ago I could not wriggle out of such an invitation from a college for a very curious reason: I had been told that no other interviewer was half as "experienced" as I was, and the recruitment was for the very first batch. No TA, DA was offered. Yet I had gone to that place. Of course, I was received warmly by the organizers, and not just because it was summer. In less than half an hour of my reaching the venue of the interview, I understood that I was sure to end up at my wit's end because I was the only "journalist" on the selection committee! The rest were all faculty members in other disciplines who made me wonder if they had ever been inside a newspaper office. The first candidate was called in. (Mercifully, there were only five candidates for three vacancies). One interviewer sought his bio data and stopped at that. Had he done a course in journalism? Or had he worked in some newspaper office? Nobody asked either question; neither did I. Now I was more interested in seeing if the interviewers knew what journalism was all about; my interest remained unsatisfied.
The third candidate entered the room diffidently, but I somehow felt he had it in him what it takes to be a journalist. My assessment was that he was the only candidate who knew what journalism was. As minutes ticked by as the interviewers started thinking of the questions they could fire at him, the boy seemed to recover his confidence. And the confidence with which he fielded all the irrelevant questions fired at him showed that he knew a little about many subjects; an essential qualification for a journalist. The chairman nudged me in the ribs, signaling it was time for me to take over. A I asked him some questions on current affairs and he answered all of them correctly. I clammed up. When all the five candidates had been interviewed, they were asked to wait in the "drawing room" to know the result, and we five wise men and women went into a huddle. Needless to say, the only candidate who had impressed me had impressed no other "selector". Finally, out of the five names three were ticked by the chairman who had not cared to find out beforehand which candidate had impressed which 'selector'. The "operation" was followed by lunch from which the candidates were excluded. Over lunch, or possibly at the sight of his favourite dishes, the chairman volunteered some information: "The first candidate is my nephew. The second is the son-in-law of �; and the fifth is the son of �." I am writing this piece because of the "breaking news", which is that the college has since closed down! - MV
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