The Shaastra 2010 Mensa-IQ Debacle

I don’t know the people who put the Shaastra 2010 Mensa IP, or whether they meant what their poster said. For the record, the poster called for volunteers for the Mensa event; volunteers who could be guys with IQ or girls with F(ace)Q. This prompted an almighty crackdown from the overlords of the executive wing, with the coords asked to tender written apologies and being thrown off the Shaastra 2010 team. The executive wing has also very helpfully assured the student body that all further notices and posters will effectively be censored for content before being released. Because what was needed more than anything else at IITM was for every IP to get the Dean’s nod before being put up.

While the matter does leave a bad taste in the mouth, the incident is by no means singular (think IPs mincing no words in asking for female volunteers), nor is it only the students at IITM who are culpable of this sort of thing. The OAA has a ‘Student Patentable Invention’ award, which will get any final year student with a patent application recognition from IITM. The poster and announcement for the award has four Caucasian people smiling at us from it. What was the point of the picture? Are white men with spiked hair and white women with highlights representative of the average IIT student who may be expected to get a patent? Is it ‘If you try really hard, you could be like them too’? Or is it perhaps that the OAA thinks putting white people on their posters makes the poster more attractive somehow?

I agree, with the exception of the promise of increased censorship, with the action itself that was taken against the (former) Mensa Coordinators. However, I can’t help thinking that this may have been unusual punishment in that most people who do something like this get away without ever being told (also, I’m guessing, without even realizing) that they are being discriminatory. If this is what happens at IITM, it is small wonder that Harbhajan Singh calls Andrew Symonds a monkey or that a black woman who wanted to cheerlead in one of the IPL’s matches was told she was too dark -complexioned for the job.

Ravichandran S

Dept. of Aerospace Engineering

NOTE: I sent the  above to students@iitm.ac.in and to oaa@iitm.ac.in. I’d like to see if it gets posted publicly.


UPDATE: What happened to the co-ordinators in question? Here.

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2 thoughts on “The Shaastra 2010 Mensa-IQ Debacle”

  1. Reminds me of Chomsky’s talk on distorted morality. We’re all hypocrites when it comes to a lot of things. We do not use the same standards to judge ourselves as we do others. And he says this fact is so obvious that one needs significant effort to overlook it in making decisions and judgements(That’s my interpretation). Nobody will be surprised if this letter gets lost in the admin bureaucracy. Having said that, I’m not sympathetic to the reprimand meted out to the coords. But is a common yardstick too much to ask for? Only time will tell

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