India’s governance structure is based on ruling by exemption. To qualify for an exemption, one either has to be someone or do well in one field (Indians equate brilliance in one area with all-round excellence and goodness). Take the recent campaign to get St Stephen’s College to allow the captain of India’s victorious under-19 cricket team to appear for exams. Details of his attendance, the amount of cricket he has played, and comments by the college’s principal that he would have been willing to dilute the required attendance from 66.67% to 33.33% (but that Unmukt Chand attended far fewer classes) indicate that the young man didn’t really try to balance cricket and academics. The fault may lie with India’s highly competitive cricketing environment, where saying no to a game is a no-no. Unfortunately, overwhelming public sentiment could well make the college bend its principled stance.

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