What’s the point?

4 Mar

I was up till 5 AM this morning, a feat I haven’t attempted in a while*, editing a draft of a final year nursing student’s thesis. I got an SOS call from a classmate at 11.30 PM begging me to take one atleast one of many theses she had taken on for editing because the nurses, like all students everywhere, had taken a wee bit more time (like, a month more :P) than what they had initially estimated with the thesis, leaving her with too much work in too short a time. With the promise of twenty bucks a page, my initial motivator (besides the kindness of my heart ofcourse ;)), I agreed to do one 26 page thesis by Monday midnight.

Keeping in mind that the last three days of classlessness (oh, John Lenon!) have been spent in utter sloth and somnolence in turns, I thought it would be a good idea to get started on it immediately. Going through the pages on Iodine Deficiency Disorders I quickly realised there were two ways of interpreting how much work there was to do. I could a) view it as only bits of justify here, double space there, change the sentence here, make sure goitre is spelt ‘goitre’ throught and not the American way in sentence one followed by the British way in sentence two. Or, b) I could just acknowledge the fact this this is no thesis, but a mass of words copy pasted throughout so much so that the author doesn’t even possess the necessary skill to notice that there is repetition in the copy pasting. ‘Marty is a dog’. Two sentences later, ‘Marty is a dog’. Another sentence later ‘Oh by the way, Marty is a dog’. You get the picture.

I’m in West Bengal. Clearly, the author is not a native speaker of the Queen’s (or anyone else’s) English. The nursing profession is populated by lower middle class and working class populations, so clearly the author also did not have access to a school education or a college education that equipped her to write a thesis, much less one in English.

I highly doubt she is an exception. What was the point of this thesis-charade then? Why English? Were they given the option of writing in Bengali? Is this thesis going to be just a formality, like my MA thesis was, that won’t even be looked at by the examiners? Why institutionalise such a waste of time?

As I read down the pages, I was filled with a sense of empathy with the unknown author and the meaninglessness she must have encountered. It made me sad for the state of our education system, where you have to pay really good money and be in a city in order to actually know and understand what you are learning. We are NOT a country of cities, as much as dear Chidambaram would like to stuff 98% of our population into them.

I did the best I could, given the circumstances. I hope it’s enough. And I obviously cannot take money for this. Opening my email, I have started going through another thesis, and this one seems to be written much better. *shrug*

*Not because it needs much of an attempt (I could work nights and sleep days if the rest of the world did too), but because it makes my hair fall out, tummy all funny and it was generally a stupid thing to do once I knew better.

One Response to “What’s the point?”


  1. Flashback « In Calcutta, a student. - December 5, 2012

    […] attempting today something I haven’t for a while: an all […]

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