Soldiers of Subscription, Not Conscription

It is forty minutes past midnight; most of the flats facing my window have their lights switched off, their occupants comfortably ensconced in the lap of Sleep. My flat, or any EPGP student’s flat, for that matter, however, is abuzz with activity. Five of my classmates have congregated here to deliberate ponderously, discuss passionately, debate vociferously, and (hopefully!) decide unanimously on a project whose impending deadline would give even the looming presence of Yama a complex! In my last writing jaunt I had left you folks with a vision of a formidable yet alluring beast called EPGP: I hope I’ve give you a closer and more visceral introduction of him.


According to our Macroeconomics professor, the aim of every nation is to tread the path of steady growth whilst being assaulted and tossed about by the strong winds of uncertainty; and the two economic levers at a nation’s disposal to achieve this are monetary policy and fiscal policy. The EPGP experience so far has been quite analogous to this description. We constantly find ourselves buffeted by deep insightful management concepts delivered to us by extraordinarily accomplished professors; and incessantly hurled back and forth by case submissions, project assignments, quizzes, exams, and sundry other meetings that we all constantly juggle. As if all of this isn’t punishing enough, the brave and commendable souls in my class go out of their way to organise seminars by industry speakers, workshops to augment our skills, and invite alumni for conversations! So what are the levers that I am using to weather this storm called EPGP? Guess what? None! All right, I would sound infinitely arrogant and unpardonably false if I said that I am able to completely ward off all the missiles that EPGP has been firing at me. I must admit that not a day goes by when I’m not overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of information that we are expected to wade through and assimilate. However, four months earlier, when the programme had just begun and we were being told by our alumni that only coffee and Red Bull can help us keep pace with the course, I was mentally calculating how much money I would need to set aside in my monthly budget for a can of Red Bull every day! But today I can say that I have been able to negotiate EPGP’s attack with just a few scratches and bruises, without the need for me transform into an avian-sapien, all thanks to the unrelenting maelstrom that is EPGP.


Yet, to the rational mind, no sensible human would willingly submit himself to be subjected to such ordeal. But having learnt of the bounded-rationality of man, the apparent insanity of my class isn’t particularly surprising, and some may attempt to explain our behaviour using the expectancy theory. Theories aside, I have found that my appetite for daily bouts with EPGP, contrary to the law of diminishing marginal utility, have not decreased. And why should it! When you learn that a negotiation can be thought of as a dispute or a deal, when you learn that karma is at work in accounting irregularities (Understating inventory expenses to boost profits this year will bite you back next year.), when you learn that jumping off an aeroplane might not be risky (!???), when a classroom discussion exposes you to the possibility that Google displaying a helpline number when you search for suicide methods is a subtle precedent (though well-meaning in this case) for taking away a human being’s discretion and judgement.


It is forty minutes past midnight once again, 48 hours later, however, and I think it apt to end this piece now. Another week and the 73 of us will be on a plane to Seoul, South Korea. Next time I hope to write to you all about my Korean adventures. Until then, I leave you with these lines from Kryptos’ song Burn Up the Night, which, in my opinion, are pretty evocative of what we EPGP-ians do:


Lord of the road
I got you in my sight
Full speed ahead
Let’s burn up the night


Au revoir!

Karthik Ramanathan

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