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An estimated 2-minute read

CLAT and the Law of Cognitive Inertia

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The distinguished Prof. Shamnad Basheer recently launched an online petition in the form of a poem to make a fervent appeal to the invisible CLAT powers to make the critical shift to a permanent, centralized CLAT body that will conduct the CLAT examination every year.

However, every effort till now to elicit any kind of response from the invisible CLAT powers has fallen flat. It reminds one of an old Indian proverb that says it is pointless to play your mellifluous flute before a water buffalo. She will be least impressed.

Cognitive Inertia

The repeated CLAT disasters, year after year, followed by widespread public outrage and protest, have completely failed to move the invisible CLAT powers even one inch from their position.

The inept, inefficient and incompetent CLAT examination is a classic specimen of a far deeper problem of the human mind: cognitive inertia.

Cognitive inertia refers to the tendency for a certain set of beliefs to endure once they have formed.

Cognitive inertia explains the natural inclination of the unthinking mind to rely on familiar assumptions. Once the assumptions have been formed, the mind is incapable or unwilling to revise them – even when there is a mountain of evidence to demonstrate the defects in those assumptions.

Cognitive inertia acts as the most powerful and insurmountable barrier to imagination, creativity, innovation and change in any organization – and eventually brings its extinction.

It is the same psychological barrier that paralyzes the minds of the invisible CLAT powers whenever there is a suggestion to break the current state to enter a new state.

What Causes Cognitive Inertia?

Cognitive inertia occurs most naturally when a human being is completely satisfied with his individual status quo. He will continue doing what he is already doing because that state ensures his maximum personal satisfaction. He is exclusively driven by his basic instinct of self-interest.

If he had any desire to seek the betterment of the society at large, he would constantly seek to challenge the status quo and constantly seek to achieve the next levels of societal excellence.

A zero desire to achieve societal excellence ensures that he will never proactively initiate a change unless he is forced to do so (say, by a Supreme Court directive).

The Bhagvad Gita

Interestingly, the Bhagvad Gita dwells upon this state of cognitive inertia in its final chapter (chapter 18, verse 39). Lord Krishna calls it the state of “Nidraalasya Pramaadatham” – Nidra (slothful slumber), Aalasya (laziness and dullness of mind), and Pramaad (complete irresponsibility).

The Lord says: “O Arjuna, this state of false comfort begins with delusion and ends with delusion. There is no way for this state of inertia to break on its own because it is situated in ‘tamas guna’ (mode of dark ignorance).”


Will the CLAT status quo change in 2016 without intervention from an external force? Well, going by Newton’s First Law of Motion and Lord Krishna’s pragmatic advice to Arjuna, it will not.

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