Maj Gen SPS Narang (retd)
Post superannuation, after serving glorious 38 years in the Army, I got the job of a professor in a domain-specific university in Dehradun. I was assigned to teach MBA (Aviation Management) students. It took them about a fortnight to accept me as their well-wisher, though it took me only a week to like my 56 students. To me, they were like my own children, deserving of care, respect and understanding. I knew that with each passing day, the guru-shishya relationship would blossom.
As part of mandatory internal evaluation, I was required to conduct surprise tests, quizzes, classroom presentations and so on. After almost six weeks of interaction, I announced the surprise test. Understandably, there were mild protests. But there was no going back. The paper was for 50 marks, and duration 30 minutes. The test commenced and after about 10 minutes I was called by the Dean. I left, announcing that I would return shortly. I added, ‘Those who finish can leave their answer scripts on my table. Please ensure that this is your own effort.’ The meeting finished in about 10 minutes and I walked back to the class. The door, with translucent glass, was closed. To my disbelief, I found most of them indulging in verbal and non-verbal communication.
On entering, I did not say a word, and collected the papers. The next day, I returned the evaluated scripts, and showed them the register in which their marks were recorded. I told them that these marks could not be altered, and would be submitted to the HoD, as was the practice. However, I followed it up saying, ‘My friends, you can keep these answer scripts with you, but before sleeping today, replay what you did during the test, and tomorrow morning return the same, having endorsed in hand how many marks you did not deserve.’ I added, ‘Most of you have eroded my hopes to transform you into outstanding humans.’ I walked off. They knew they had betrayed my trust.
The next day — the one I rate the best of my teaching profession — almost all students with deducted marks, ranging from two to 15, returned the sheets. Seeing what they had done, I knew the guru-shishya relationship was at its best. However, one student wrote, ‘No change, Sir’. I believed her because she was actually capable of getting full marks. But the following day, before I could open my cabin, I found her, all teary-eyed. ‘Sir, I have not been able to sleep. I am guilty of not deducting four marks. Please forgive me.’ I blessed her, telling her that she would excel in life. Lest it remains unstated, she finished her doctorate in Australia and is doing extremely well.
In fact, all my students are doing well because they are fantastic humans. They overcame temptation.
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