Let the Aitchison legacy prevail!

Published: July 12, 2014

Merit is more than just kinship. Who decides how this new system of meritocracy is accurate and fair? PHOTO: FILE

Aitchison College has boasted its majestic red brick buildings and traditions for over 125 years now. As we all know, generation after generations have followed the footsteps of their fathers and matriculated from the college. Recently, the new rule approved by the Board of Governors (BoG) of Aitchison College states that kinship has been abolished, so that merit may be ensured during the admission process.

In my opinion, abolishing kinship is completely absurd. I, as an old boy (a term we use for ourselves after passing out from the college) think that the college builds pedigrees. Aitchison is not just an academic institution where the only achievement you aim for is good grades. Parents from all over Pakistan send their children to Aitchison so that their children may be groomed into ‘gentlemen’, as we like to call it.

Merit was never sidelined, but neither was kinship. I don’t see the point in changing a long standing rule that has guaranteed success for these years. The new rule means that now my son will not be given preference when I prepare him for admission to the college. Hailing from a family that has attended the institute for generations, am I now to expect that being an alumnus of one of the most prestigious institutes in the country has no bearing on the future of my children? Is alumni status not worth anything anymore? All the accolades and honours that I’ve achieved so far are just mere pieces of paper? Will the college administration not honour them anymore?

As an old boy I have been taught to spread what I learnt during my time at Aitchison and who better to pass it onto than my own son. I know that I would do my best to raise my son as a gentleman because I like to believe I am one and the credit for that goes to Aitchison College. Looking at the situation from this perspective, does the honourable governor, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, not comprehend the fact that any Aitchisonian would want to do the same? Kinship in its own way ensures that the boys being admitted are being well-groomed at home, in addition to being groomed by the institute.

The tradition of kinship is not new or unique to Pakistan; prestigious academic institutions like Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge University all practice the same.

Yes, merit should prevail at one of the most prestigious institutions of Pakistan, but who decides how accurate or fair this new system of meritocracy is?

The new system dictates that children will sit for a six hour exam and the ones who ace this written exam will be admitted to the college in descending order.

A local newspaper claimed that anyone with strong sources can get their son admitted to the college without making him sit for the admission test. On the contrary, I, being kin, had to give the admission test thrice before being granted admission. Every individual in my batch gave the written test before being admitted. What is the point of levelling such baseless allegations on an institution of its repute?

Several newspapers report that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Lahore attended the board members’ meeting in which this rule was approved. Why does anyone who holds the GOC Lahore’s office become a board member? What does this military office have to do with a semi-public academic institution?

In my personal opinion, the governor should focus more on introducing a system based on meritocracy to the Punjab government rather than an institution that has stood by a tradition, even before the creation of Pakistan.

Kinship is more than just merit. During my time at the college, we were taught to respect peons and sweepers. We were taught to refer to them as chacha jee, thus diminishing class divide. Kinship does not create class divide, it promotes a better, more refined class of Aitchisonians.

Aadil Aamir

Aadil Aamir

An ex-aitchisonian, political and religious history buff and a passionate equestrian.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.besima.blogspot.com Atta Ur Rehman Essazai

    Being an alumnus of Aitchison does not mean that Aitchison is their proprty. You got medals, honors from institution, this is a blessing of institution upon you, not yours upon Aitchison. Aitchison awareded that to honour your talent. Now show those medals to your children so that they can understand how talented student their father was. Motivate them by it and prepare them for competition. Also tell them that those days have gone in underdeveloped Pakistan when kinship was superior to merit.Recommend

  • Jehanzeb Mahar

    The only sensible thing in the blog I found was about GOC Lahore Recommend

  • Umair Aftab

    the fact that an individual gets preference just because of being kin to an ex-student is not by any means justified. as you speak of developing a trend of meritocracy i must humbly bring into your attention that preference due to kinship is by no way on merit and nullifies the very narrative of preaching merit.Recommend

  • Umair Aftb

    Indeed. What you have said is on point.Recommend

  • Current Aitchisonian

    Anyone saying that merit solely will be the criteria is sadly mistaken. If two boys have the exact same admission test score,kinship will prevail and the one whose dad or grandad went to Aitchison will be chosen. Half of all the boarders in Aitchison are all here due to kinship, the grandsons of the leaders of the Jamali tribes, Panezai tribes etc. Kinship will always exist there and lastly , all the places where kinship exists, including Cambridge Oxford Harvard and Eton, are among the best schools and universities in the world, if kinship isnt a problem there then why is it here? No offence but half of the people happy about the abolishment don’t have the finances and means to pay the fees and tuitions for the admission test . Kinship WILL always be a part of Aitchison and no law can change that.Recommend

  • s

    really? why should you being an alumni from a prestigious school give any advantage to your children? why should children whom parents are not alumni of the institute be at a disadvantage? its amazing to see that gentlemen believe their children should get priorityRecommend

  • think about it

    What a typical Pakistani article. Justifying a wrong by drawing a parallel to the west. You feel proud of the accolades lauded upon you for your achievements at aitchinson? Good. You certainly should. But why should they have any meaning on the ability of your son? Has he achieved them? Did he work towards them? No. The only impact they will have on him is what you choose to teach him from your achievements. If you want your kid in the college, let him pass the test. Why should anybody who does not have kinship suffer for something he had no control over? Why should your son benefit from something he did not have control over? Imagine if every institution the world over started doing this! Would you support that? Why should aitchison get special treatment? Because it is old? No. If something wrong has been happening in the past, even if it has been happening for 125 years, that does not justify it on the present. I can only be thankful for the fact that the Board of directors are at least sensible people.

  • think about it

    Half the people happy about the abolishment don’t have the finances or the means? And what does that have to do with the morality of the decision? Does it in anyway undermine, Mr.current aitchisonian?Recommend

  • knightridrr

    Give me an example of world class institution where admissions are based on “KINSHIP (favoritism)”.

    You concluding argument is amazingly stupid. Guess what we weren’t told to respect peons and sweepers at college level but when we were 2-3 years old by our parents.Recommend

  • knightridrr

    You are naive if you think Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and all other top universities will offer you admission just because your papa or uncle has some approach in fact most of the times it’ll only harm your chances of getting admission there.Recommend

  • Fahad

    So this is the mentality of an Atchisonian. Truly, your words ring of superiority. What of the children of those “chahca jee” sweepers and peons, whom you so endearingly refer to? If a child of their’s, through sheer hard work and merit were to come up to your so called lofty standards, he would should be denied a chance? I read a comment that one cannot afford the fees, then it is the duty of the institution to provide scholarships to those deserving it. Is this a finishing college for girls or a proper institution? Fact is; these “old boys” do not have the mental fortitude to compete across the board. They believe that they can secure a good education based on their father’s work. I would imagine the author is afraid now that his son would have to study like the rest of the country.Recommend

  • ovais

    atchisonians are overrated anyways ..Recommend

  • Sami

    Talking about Pedigree is the most absurd concept i am reading here. So basically The rich and Powerful have the right to be on top and in Prestigeous institutions?. A complete article for an Anglophile. British have left Pakistan but they have left the Brown Babus in Pakistan.Recommend

  • m ali khan

    you do realise that the whole kinship in Aitchison College admissions was used by the British Raj to cultivate assets among the influential families and give them extra state patronage right? a very colonial and imperialist legacy Pakistan today can do without :)Recommend

  • Shehzad Khan

    You are so full of it. I will have to take a shower after reading this elitist piece of non-sense. You want to perpetuate the culture of patronage and kinship by claiming that it is also respectful of others. You can call your “sweeper” cha cha but you won’t allow his son to study at Aitchison because of his wrong pedigree. Shameful.Recommend

  • surprised

    Wow..rather than ensure child works hard to get admission in a college you want them to get in just because you went there..can you imagine the physiological effects this silver spoon attitude can have on the kid? Maybe sir you spend less time on your horse and more time with your feet firmly planted on the ground!!Recommend

  • H.M.T.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right! That said, you are sadly mistaken. Oxford and Cambridge have abolished “legacy status” (kinship) in their admission criteria for some time. Ivy League institutes still consider legacy status but it is now one of the least important criterion , and is still quickly diminishing in significance. Finally, stop comparing Aitchison with the world’s best institutes of higher learning. Aitchison is just another high school catering to our feudals, it’s not the 9th Ivy League!Recommend

  • ogreclub

    I remember humiliating our professors in Aitchison. Chamkeela, tyson, pistoli….is that your idea of gentlemen? Aitchison used to produce gentlemen, now it produces students at the same level as any other institution. As for merit, should we not measure a person by what he/she does rather than who they know. Also none of the institutions you mentioned in the west have kinship anymore, it is illegal by law.Recommend

  • Fez

    Well I’m sorry but I think this article has absolutely no point whatsoever. I went to the only school in Pakistan older, and perhaps more famous, than Aitchison. I have plenty of Aitchisonian friends at the university I attend. And I still think the whole kinship policy was no less than utter BS. It amounts to depriving people equally talented as children of the ‘old boys’ simply because their parents either did not attend this rather elitist institution, or rose from more humble beginnings.Recommend

  • Faran Mahmood

    Being an alumnus of Cambridge, I can assure that there is no kinship in Ox-bridge. Many of my class fellows were from the least developed parts of Asia and Africa, and still managed to secure a scholarshipRecommend

  • ahmed

    the children of those chacha jees study at an institution within aitchison my friend.Recommend

  • Brother Aly (R.A)

    Wow the fact that you defend such a sad institution shows the grooming of degeneracy taking place. Really sad show case of mind set from the future leaders of your country. Thank goodness someone has the sense to get rid of patriarchy from this ‘world class’ education institution. And I hope you might learn a thing or two from the other comments here for the higher purpose of learning.Recommend

  • farid sheikh ’97

    Dear fellow Old Boy.

    Looks like you learnt nothing from Aitchison or after. Let the board be completely independent no GOC, no politicians and no Secretaries. It’s time to level the playing field. Don’t be afraid of good change, be brave enough to embrace it. That’s what Aitchison taught me. Recommend

  • Ali Mustafa

    The Author spoke like a true feudal’s son.Recommend

  • #Hashtag

    acha hua acha hua ^/Recommend

  • Umar

    I am extremely disappointed to read a lame article justifying merit based on Kinship with even more lame justifications. People like the writer are real threat to this country. you dont understand what nepotism is !!Recommend

  • M.

    Neither Oxford nor Cambridge follows this practice. One would assume you’d at least check your facts before using them as a premise for your argument.Recommend

  • Df

    Aitchsonians, corrupt landlords, tribes and there superiority complex. I would rather send my child to Lahore American School which most of Aitchsonians cannot afford than to send him to an institution where corrupt feudal and there kids come for social networking. Recommend

  • Pappu

    WOW, just
    WOW at this thinking … typical Pakistani bhora saheb here …Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    This blog is so infuriatingly elitist, it’s hard to post a comment temperate enough to be published by the moderators.

    Aitchisonian graduate uses education to get rich, raises kids who get into Aitchison through kinship, use education to get even richer, raise kids who get into Aitchison…

    Rich brats raise richer brats raise richest brats, while the “common rabble” fights in the Hunger Games trying to secure a seat by sheer merit.

    You know what they call the same process in politics? “Monarchism”.Recommend

  • Mudassar Nawaz

    I don’t find any sense in this article ; there’re many institutions in which kinship holds no bearing on admission process like Gcu and PU , why kinship be considered as a merit ? Absurd is the point you’re presenting to secure an undue seat for your progeny.Wouldnt you like to see Gentlemen coming from all across the country rather than from a few families only.i fully support this decision of BOG , a laudable one ! Stop pretending like a loser and prepare your children for the competition. Don’t ask the priviliges that you’re not ethically entitled to ! Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    You make a very weak argument for your point.Recommend

  • Aitchisonian

    What a terribly written article. So many disjointed and faulty arguments.

    Being an Aitchisonian myself, I am completely aware that not all Aitchisonians are “gentlemen”. So that’s a really bad miscalculation.

    However, you’re right when you say many prestigious educational institutes abroad have clauses relating to kinship. Harvard, Cambridge and Princeton give admit students belonging to families in the top 2.5 income group.

    Nonetheless, this should change as more equality of opportunity should be achieved. I would also want my sons to be students at Aitchison but in order to diminish the rich-poor gap admission policy should be based solely on merit.Recommend

  • Jamil

    A typical thinking of Pakistanis what a lame excuse he is givenRecommend

  • Necromancer

    And the hypocrisy continues Oxford University is 100000 times better then and probably 100 times older but they don’t have this kind of Kinship policy (unless you are a royal or a autocratRecommend

  • oldboy12

    No where in the article, has the writer written that kinship should be the sole criteria. He has emphasized that kinship must be taken into account during the admission, among other things. maybe everyone should read the article more carefully.Recommend

  • oldboy12

    The writer has also written that he gave the admission test THRICE, even though he had kinship.Recommend

  • An

    Was this a joke article!?
    So because you are a son of an Alumni, you should get in!! No one should bother about merit! Are you serious??Recommend

  • Muhammad Asif Nawaz

    Along the same lines the author wants the child of an ‘old boy’ to grow into an ‘old boy’ again, does he also want that of a farmer to become a farmer? Kinship?
    An individual’s personal capability and talent has nothing to do with his kinship, and that is solely what he should be judged upon!Recommend

  • Mansoor Ali Khan

    Being an Aitchisonian myself, I am shocked to read the absurd logic given in this blog. If my kids are not up to the merit then they simply dont deserve to be there in that prestigious college. Lastly, no one can deny that this college has admitted scores of dumb-heads from the Feudal lords’ families when they never deserved it.Recommend

  • IM

    …. a showoff !Recommend

  • Jahil hamid

    If your school is so great name one of your alumni who has contributed significantly to the world ?Recommend

  • jamali

    Magsi,jamali,tiwana..etc are all part of the Aitchisonion pride and it’s shamefull that our off springs do not get to be a part of the Aitchisonion family legacy.Recommend

  • As someone who also graduated from Aitchison, I was mortified reading this blog.Recommend

  • Parvez

    If I am not wrong Aitchison was founded by the British and allowed in a very, very few locals in order to create an elitist atmosphere exactly as described by the writer……..when the British do something they do it well.Recommend

  • naah

    What a charade of self glorification. Get real.Recommend

  • khan

    Being an Aitchisonian doesn’t mean that its ur property or someone else…that’s the mentality which u ppl have when all from strong backgrounds come to this institution…if someone is son of poor but he is more talented than ur son still u will advocate for ur son?…u consider urself nd ur family members illegible for everything…..but why? if ur son is talented then he will pass the test nd interview and will get admission in the college and will carry ur legacy….if he isn’t eligible then why are u trying to approach unnecessarily college Administration….For God sake come out of this shell which spoiled the lives of all pakistanis…we should talk about merit nor kinship..Recommend

  • chillipepper

    we must appreciate your school who taught you best writing skills. verily no one else could be able to defend the selfishness, dominance & the wish to stand at the top of hierarchy,,, you wrote well.let me tell you all institutions teach ethics not particularly yours. wt will happen to those students who are able and talented enough to get admission at aitchison what do you think they should stop dreaming about getting admission in aitchison college coz their forefathers did not study there .. kinship prevails ,,, if this is so then aitchison should be located at a place where only kinship prevails not at a city where ppl of all classes live.Recommend

  • Bilal Tariq

    The successful aitchisonians we see today have nothing to do with their talent but were rather made to sit on the seats already put in place by their parents .Am afraid you are just scared to send your child to face the real world . And i sympathize with your mindset and the false sense of security you are having .The world is really cruel. lastly i had this thing in mind that i was going to read some non-sense when i saw something related to aitchison and my belief after reading your article has strengthened my belief more .All thanks to you !!Recommend

  • Top of Mind

    Wow. Hi fellow alumnus, well its clear you got so carried away with emotions that the actual logics you perhaps wanted to highlight (tradition, who decides merit etc.) have been overshadowed. The impression your blog gives is that Aitchison belongs to some supernatural class! Its completely untrue and I can vouch for that being an old boy but thats what your blog implies.
    Pick better words next time, emotions have to be channeled wisely to have positive outcome.
    Good luck with your son :)Recommend

  • Top of Mind

    Wrong buddy.
    Harvard admitted 40% students involving kinship last year. Ivy League colleges an overall 16%.
    Its can be verified on net.Recommend

  • Ammar Leghari

    The children of those chacha jees sometimes even become our maths teachers…well u would have known that if u were an Aitchisonian..Recommend

  • mohammad

    Just wow.. “The new rule means that now my son will not be given preference when I prepare him for admission to the college”
    You studies in this college but you don’t own it! live with it.Recommend

  • Abdul Raffai Sethi

    Typical jealousy of the common man if the elite can afford an elitist school they have every right to it you just can’t be given the same chances as someone who is paying more for them pal, it’s okay.Recommend