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The Tree of Life
by Pragati Bakshi
(Ranchi, Jharkhand, India)

For the past thirty days, I have been musing upon the complexities of human behaviour. Nevertheless, I cannot fit any of such behaviors in the category of ”Behavioral Economics” as to ascertain the logic of such behaviors and   benefits accrued. Behavioral Economics, using the sophisticated Nash Equilibrium can predict some human behaviors for fitting it into a predicative mode for analyzing   market or any other economic circumstances.  When the prevailing dynamics or situations are  not the  only  impetus to incite man ‘s/woman’s  to behave in  a certain pattern, outcomes are doubtable. The outcomes are governed by exogenous factors rather than the endogenous ones. The year 2013 engraved many such incidences in my life; that  particular bygone year was befitted to be called as year of Black Swan.

October 2013, I stepped inside a palatial building of a Research Institution in the city of Pune, Maharashtra.  Overwhelmed with the simultaneous feelings of trepidation and pride I entered into Research Wing of Econometric Department of Indian Institute of Econometric Research. The conference hall where I was sitting with five other co participants was a big elongated hall. A small white board and a LCD Screen were in the farthest end of hall. The high-rise wall adorned with four Samsung Air Conditioners in corner of hall. Conference room replicated more of that of a classroom, rather than a conference hall. The air was heavy and all of us, the five participants working as Assistant Professors in various universities of India were nervous like primary students. Silence was too deafening and unbearable, suddenly a person entered like hurricane in the  room and established himself near the white board like a majestic tree. I lifted my head to find a pair of black eyes glaring me in an unrecognizable fashion. If I could describe depth of those eyes, I would have definitely called a them a  pair of black eyes alike Thomas Hardy’s  “A pair of blue eyes”.

I heard my name called twice. Before I could answer, a ruthless sonorous voice if not reprimanding but mocked me. I along with other’s was taken aback. Gathering myself I answered affirmatively and with wide open eyes, saw  this  man standing in front of me.

Dr Krishna Gaurav Dikshit was our Course Coordinator and Chief Instructor for this prestigious Orientation Program in higher echelon of Econometrics, in even more prestigious Institute. Dr Dikshit was of an average height, lean build. He carried fair complex, better to describe it a complexion with golden hue that most females will die for. A thick set of black hair perched above receding hair line, exposing the distinct forehead. An aquiline nose and full pinkish lips. It may sound strange, yet it justifies describing a man in a  similar way of glorifying a beautiful woman. Above all, the set of dark small piercing eyes. The masculine aura disseminating from his presence was very intimidating. If I would describe him as a majestic wolf, it won’t be incorrect. Dr Dikshit was Professor Emeritus in the department of Applied Econometric. And unfortunately, he was to teach us for the coming 15 days. I particularly was very shaken by his way a gazing and filling the ambience with the air dominance.

The post lunch session was quiet a relieve to me, as all the participants were allowed to interact among themselves. I am  Assistant Professor in Econometrics at the University of Tripura and was least exposed to environments of a metropolitan culture. My fellow participants were very cordial to each other. Our  present plight reminded us  the story of “ Strength in Unity”!  Our every nonverbal communication, though too subtle established that we will unite in our endeavor to conquer the menace called Krishna Gaurav Dikshit! Next day the session was on Econometric technique using Big Data. The class was conducted by Dr Dikshit. The "Algorithm Game Theory" was new and too  tough to grasp. Besides he choose the toughest topic on Nash Equilibrium. All equation depicted the payoff of mixed strategy responses jumbled or rather coiled into a cobra like structure in my head. And every now and then the equations hissed back their venom of dominant strategies. At the end of the 10 hours long session, the payoff was tiredness and inferiority complex, where in Dr  Dikshit emerged as dominant player with his pay off; an inflated ego nurtured by crushing our self-esteems.

That day, I was too tired to eat my dinner. I just wanted to sleep putting aside all the guilt and sense of inferiority complex of not being academically at par with esteemed economists. The spacious guest house provided to me had a wide window overlooking in an un-kept garden. Perhaps the window faced west and every evening the setting sun poured in saffron color inside the room. That evening as, I was ready to sleep, my eyes caught a faint glimpse of a strange tree. The tree was very distinct. The flora in the Indian subcontinent do not bear such a large and twisted shaped tree. The trunks of tree was strangely twisted with each other. The tree was like two giant cobras twisted together and their hoods were vertically positioned looking helplessly towards sky. The tree bore minimal leaves. And many parts of trunks were inflated like balloons. My knowledge of flora and fauna was enough to let me recognize the trees as Baobab trees. The Baobab trees are few to be spotted in Indian subcontinent. The Portuguese brought some samplings with them and planted inside the forts which they either built or conquered in the coastal regions of Maharastra. Baobab, “the tree of life”, accumulates water in it’s inflated and twisted trunks. The water sustains life during arid and drought seasons. As I strained my eyes for more clarity for surroundings of the tree, I saw a man standing or rather leaning against the tree. The gentle man was undoubtedly Dr Dikshit! I was taken aback by the spectacle of a rare tree and rarest of man standing together as in some deep conversations.  Some how, I dismissed all thoughts and went to sleep.

Next day at 8 in morning I prepared myself for another battle; to be lost, as opponent was too mighty to combat. I could not understand any equation of Algorithm Game theory and thus was prepared for onslaughts of insults by esteemed faculty. Dr Dikshit clad in pale pink shirt and dark trouser entered the class like whirlwind and started his blatant display of mastery over algorithms. All of us five were virtually petrified by heavy bombardment of series of incomprehensible equations. After half an hour, Dr Dikshit took a pause and rolled his intense gaze from his small eyes towards me “Mrs SinghDev, don’t you think that these bunch of renowned economists were fools to propound such an algorithm, that our chosen economists from all over India cannot comprehend? Instead they should have propounded some techniques that could have helped this  cohort of our intelligentsia to mug up a whole book”. This insult was too much for all of to bear. Two of my fellow participants rose and left the conference hall without saying a word. Rest of us were nearly into tears. Sutapa dragged me out of room. I gasped for breath in open air and was trembling violently. I trembled out of fear or insult or amalgamation of both is still incomprehensible to me. Sutapa Dasgupta was Assistant Professor at Jadhapur University. Both of us visible shaken, tried to comfort each other .

The whole day was marked by boycotting of all sessions conducted by Dr Dikshit. Two of fellow participants went to Director’s chamber and registered their displeasure on Modus Operandi of imparting knowledge by Dr  Dikshit.. Director took serious note of Dr Dikshits’ behavior and to our utter relieve his coordinator ship was snatched with immediate effect.