The School of Core Incompetence – R Chandrasekar – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: It begins with the rats…

The Government regulator finds rats – two ‘numbers’ no less – living comfortably off the canteen at the privately owned Sundarambal Institute of Management, Coimbatore, forcing its crossword-obsessed director to create a committee led by the rather undistinguished professor Sambandham to ‘address the lacuna’. Against an imminent visit by the authorities, a cat-and-rat game snowballs into a power tussle involving the faculty, bureaucrats, the Prime Minister’s personal yoga guru and the great Dr. Rakshasan, an MP with a radar-roofed and gold-plated Maybach, who also owns the institute.

In this hilarious satire on the state of affairs in Indian management schools, R. Chandrasekar – bestselling author of The Goat, the Sofa and Mr. Swami – takes a tongue in cheek look at business schools, where students are lured with the promise of six figure salaries and free laptops, while poking fun at Government interference and the political mismanagement of the education system. Dodgy degrees, honorary doctorates to boost egos and lazy professors with dubious qualifications – The School of Core Incompetence has them all.


Now, with a blurb like that can you expect the book to be anything other than a ‘laugh riot’, more so for somebody like me who has been a management student and knows at least some of what happens in the faculty staff rooms of these so called ‘hallowed institutions’. And true to its premise and the blurb, The School of Core Incompetence delivers wonderfully well.

What starts off as a harmless committee being set up to look into some issues identified at Sundarambal Institute of Management, Coimbatore during an AICTE inspection soon turns into a nightmare for Prof Sambandam. He suddenly has to deal with each member of the committee putting forth his or her own insecurities forward in the form of genuine concerns and complaints. While Prof Anbuchezian uses the forum to present his anti-upper class rants, Prof Thilakavathi uses it to present her anti-male chavunistic points of view. Pretty soon the committee ends up creating more problems on its own rather than looking into the AICTE identified issues.

This slowly brings all the other wonderful characters in this book into the plot. The Joint Chancellor, the Chancellor, the Prime Minister’s personal yoga trainer, the AICTE committee, and a whole host of other colorful characters join the melee that the proceedings turn into. An unsolicited recommendation for a doctorate for Chancellor Dr Rakshasan by the committee turns the Director’s life into a nightmare for the next few days and this forms the bulk of the second half of the book.

What worked really well in this book for me is the attention to detail that the author has paid to the various goings on in the functioning of a management institution today. He clearly knows the nitty-gritties of the system and has therefore managed to cleverly satirize the proceedings and characters in such a manner that most readers probably won’t even realize the subtle humor that underlies the entire book itself.

The characters are all caricatures in every sense of the word and the author has given them all such small but wonderfully memorable quirks that they tend to stay with you for some time after you have put down the book. The plot itself is quite slapstick which was kind of expected given the setting in which it is set in and also given the fact that it is a satirical outlook on management education in the country today.

What really didn’t quite work for me in this book was that in my personal opinion, the author spread himself a little too thin with too many characters in the plot. While he has paid equal attention to each of them, the end result is that not one of them stands out to be truly ‘memorable’ enough except probably the Chancellor Dr Rakshasan. In fact, that one character and its detailing could very well make up the plot for an entire book by itself.

So, what are you waiting for then? Go ahead and purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link] and enjoy a rollicking ride through the corridors of Sundarambal Institute of Management, Coimbatore.

Disclaimer: Yes, I will make a measly commission when you purchase the books by clicking on the links above, but it will not increase your purchase price at all.


Name The School of Core Incompetence
Author/s R Chandrasekar
Publisher Hachette India
Year published 2012
ISBN 13 9789350094907
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Flipkart
Amazon link Amazon

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