I have a bleak memory of what happened with a friend of mine seven years back. It was 2006 when we gave our 10th boards. Being in a city like Patna we did not enjoy the liberty of choosing streams in 11th. We do as we are told.I had a friend who was excellent in calligraphy and painting and was interested in arts and aesthetics. I took Commerce, but he was ‘advised’ to opt for Science. Two years later, before our 12th boards results were out, my friend bought the entrance form of NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) with his savings. Although I was sure that he would crack the entrance, but his father was totally appalled by the very idea. His final verdict for my friend was that he must become an ‘engineer’.
In Bihar, if you fail an exam, the world ends for you and at a time when one needs family the most, it discards you. Fortunately for me, based on my result, I got through the Delhi University and opted for Literature, but my friend had flunked in his Physics exam.I quite remember that a year later the same friend appeared for AIEEE and IIT entrance exams but could not crack either, and his father called me and asked about the best private engineering colleges.” Now even though my friend got through one of the colleges in Jaipur, he is still trying to clear his last semester exams. A talent wasted.
The bigger question: Why is our society obsessed with dictating a teenager’s career choice? At an age when you are eligible to choose the leader of your country, you are not allowed to choose your own career. Dual standards, surely.
I have immense respect for my friend’s father and also know that he wanted the best for his son, but what I don’t understand is the obsession with ‘engineering’? This is a complex question and cannot have a simple answer. They belonged to a middle class family and we live in an era where financial pulls are so strong that they decide everything. The obsession with financial security increases competition and our society produces a generation of young people who are part of a rat race throughout their productive years.
I see myself in contrast to my friend. I was never questioned by my family about my choices. I chose commerce at intermediate level, Literature during graduation, Journalism and International Politics for my Post Graduation, and finally landed up doing theatre. I belonged to the same society, same middle class family. However, today I may not have achieved what I wanted to achieve in the long run, but I am responsible for my own decisions and blunders. My family supported every decision of mine. As a result I have my share of learnings and a broader perspective. This experience has enabled me to accept failures and encourages me to remain optimistic, whatever the turn of events.
The act of deciding for ‘your children’ is not new and is a distinct feature of middle class families in almost all the developing nations and also in a few developed societies. It is high time we realise that this results not only in creating a disoriented lot of people that has no understanding what direction they are moving in, but in the process also creates a dissatisfied society with unsatiated desires.
People may debate my take on the issue. But I think of my friend who still paints beautifully, but has lost the touch of innocence in his brush. His soul is wandering to fight the forces which stopped his dreams from being realised, but alas, he cannot see his enemy. It will be wrong to consider his father an enemy because he was also a product of the same society- a society with misplaced priorities.
Post by : Nihal Parashar