Tag Archives: Profession

Misplaced Priorities of Our Society

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 


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Pressure from the Family affects Education and Career Choices

Families are held together by blood, by obligation, by desire and sometimes, if you are very lucky, by love.”

 Like it or not, our lives in India are bound in strange ways to our families. It’s like we come in a package. A lot of our decisions are made under the immense influence of, if not entirely by, our families. From the right time to get married to the right number of children to career choices, every aspect of life requires a nod from everyone, including distant tayajis and phuas. That is when blood and consequently obligation take precedence over everything else.

In this light enterprising kids have it really bad here. I’m not saying our elders shouldn’t have a say in our lives, of course their experience and wisdom count infinitely, whether they support of don’t approve of our decisions. 

It’s just that life in India tends to follow stereotypical dictates where one is often compelled to bow down to filial desires and pressures. I remember how stressed some of my friends have been, year after year, after each of them took the 10th. Taking up any stream other than Science was out of the question, according to their parents. And these weren’t people who were contemplating; they didn’t see themselves doing Science at all. A miserable two years later, they’ve taken up law or social sciences.

I can say without the slightest bit of hesitation that all our parents want only the best for us. It’s just that their ways of defining the ‘best’ are possibly based on individual prejudices, desires and often unfulfilled dreams. In a chat I had with five friends from different parts of the country who are based in Delhi, three said their parents wanted them to take the UPSC. They didn’t want to, but were going to anyway. These were people who studied in good colleges and could do whatever they wanted to with their lives. And they’d have done well, I’m sure!

It’s not just about education or career decisions, though. Ranvir Shourey in the recently released gem, Bombay Talkies, for instance, wants his son to play football and doesn’t give the child a choice. It’s about being strong, and as the latent message suggests, manly.

These are certain stereotypes we live by; sometimes by our own will, sometimes by societal norms. We feel what our kids do is a matter of pride and prestige. Their qualifications, scores and later, salaries, are symbolic of how bright they are, how hard they’ve worked and how well we’ve brought them up. It just wouldn’t do to have people know they are studying designing or other such creative pursuits. People would think they didn’t get through IIT, and that consequently, they’d be able to make nothing of their lives. 

That their children will not be happy doing what they want them to, that their heart will not be in it, and that it’s futile to expect them to do well at something they probably don’t have the aptitude for- these are things our societies still have to teach themselves. I’m sure it’s no delight to watch your child weep through two years of junior college studying subjects he didn’t want to. Every parent’s heart bleeds. It’s just that they need to stir themselves into acknowledging that their children are meant for other things. They just need to know what it is.

We love the package deal that we come in. We love the fact that our worlds are this warm and close-knit. We love almost everything about our families. But we could do without the packages of obligations, expectations and pressures that always tag along. It’s all about loving the family, but we could do without the pressure in making education and career choices!

 Post by:Lata Jha


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