IIT and modern mythology

Recently, an IIT boy was arrested for sending rape threats to Virat Kohli's little daughter anonymously on social media. Though the culprit has been arrested, many on the social web are wondering how an IIT student could have done this.

Here's why people - even right thinking people - are amazed that an IIT boy could have sent an anonymous rape threat to a little girl. In any society, where the privileged maintain the illusion of superiority by claiming to be intelligent, over time, intelligence becomes associated with the appearance of the privileged.

India is no stranger to this. For ages, we have associated intelligence with the appearance of the Brahmin. Shaved heads, flowing white beards, and saffron clothes. It doesn't matter how stupid someone might be, all they have to do in order to be considered wise is take on the appearance of a "wise man". Look at all the pseudo-science spouting guru characters around you. We don't decide someone is wise after looking at their conduct or the content of their character. We do it by looking at their clothes.

Similarly, the IIT label is associated with a certain kind of sophistication that has no foundation in reality. Men from prominent business schools run sleazy sexist WhatsApp groups where they denigrate their female coworkers. More than one White supremacist dick went to Harvard.

Mythology is not always religious. Sometimes, it is modern in nature, and serves the same purpose as tales about gods and celestial beings. And we are surrounded by such myths. They tell us that virtue is somehow linked to academic qualifications and that one's educational background can accurately predict their moral calibre.

On one level, we do this to feel good so we can continue sending our children to these institutions in hopes of replicating their respectability. On another level, it helps us create social folders. It helps us say that money and prosperity are somehow directly linked to virtue and that we have a solid foundation for our modern mythology that says crime is a poor people thing and that the rich are civilised who only have what they have because of their "merit".

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