Jugaad Complements Bose-Einstein Statistics
in the State Government-run Educational Institutions in India

Pankaz K. Sharma

A famous anecdotal tale that involves the names of both Satyendra Nath Bose and Paul Dirac goes as follows: S.N. Bose goes to pick up Dirac and his wife from the airport. On their way back, Bose sees two of his students walking and invites them to ride the taxi, which now makes four of them sharing the front seat (couch). Dirac, surprised to see that, asks Bose if this would not be too inconvenient for all of them. Bose smiles and replies, “No; we all believe in Bose-Einstein statistics!” Dirac then explained to his puzzled wife, “In Bose-Einstein statistics, things crowd together.”

One can attempt to explain the above using a crude analogy. If one has two cups and one of them is to be filled with balls (or particles, if you please) that follow the Fermi-Dirac statistics, then the maximum number of balls that can be fit into that cup is two (even then, these two balls cannot be fully identical and must be different from a spin-point of view; an example of such particles is electrons.); however, if the other cup is to be filled with particles that follow the Bose-Einstein statistics, then any number of balls can fit into that cup (and example of such particles is photons, the packet of light energy).

Most state governments in India seem to be experts in the field of Bose-Einstein statistics. That is why, no infrastructural changes/improvements happen in the state-run academic institutes in India, while the number of students enrolled in almost all courses increases by about 10% each year. Thus, in a classroom, where a desk was shared by 3 students a couple of decades ago, today has to be shared by 6 or more. While this may not be so common a scene when it comes to the major classes, this is quite prevalent in the case of the pass (ancillary /additional/elective/call-it-by-what-name-you-like) subjects, especially with the introduction with the choice based credit system (CBCS) where students can move in and out of subjects in each semester.

It never seems to matter to anyone in power that it would not be physically possible to sit all the students in a classroom of a few hundred; thankfully, many of these students often do not turn up for their classes, having far more important things such as, picnics, student body elections, dinner party, theme park visits, cinema, etc. - to name a few- to take care of. (It is altogether a different story that there is a stipulated minimum percent of attendance for them to be eligible to sit for their examinations.)

And what is not covered by Bose-Einstein statistics is covered by jugaad. Now, jugaad is a two-headed monster. We feel proud of our jugaad when India can land a rover on the Mars surface for expenses lesser than what was incurred for making the movie, Gravity; on the other hand, we blame jugaad when something goes terribly wrong leading to loss of lives and property. But until that point of no return, jugaad is all good. And therefore, students in the chemistry laboratory of a state-run college may have to do with, for example, folded papers instead of tongs to hold hot test-tubes filled with corrosive liquids.

The basics of Bose-Einstein statistics applies to teacher appointments as well. Most such institutes often will not have new teachers appointed, once senior teachers retire. Most state governments understand that, just like any number of particles can fill a level, any number of students or classes can be taught by a single teacher. After all, like politicians with great oratory skills, all that a teacher has to do is talk for an hour or so at a time, and nothing else. So why to waste money by appointing new teachers, when the same funds can be utilized for more fruitful causes, such as, for a 30-vehicle convoy for a minister’s travel routine?

And then a semester passes, a new one begins, and the same thing continues.

So, to summarize: In the words borrowed from a Steely Dan lyrics:

You go back, Jack,
Do it again,
Wheels turnin' 'round and 'round
You go back, Jack, do it again

Pankaz K. Sharma ([email protected]) lives in Assam.

Jun 6, 2019

Pankaz K. Sharma [email protected]

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