Kid: I want to become a cartoonist
Dad: First step –Become an engineer.
This is the strange advice dished out by many Indian parents to their children right after school when they have to make a choice. How does this work?
Step One: You do engineering
Step two: Work on your ‘hobby’ without affecting your academics
Step Three: Get a good job through college placements while working on your ‘hobby’ during spare time
Step Four: Manage full-time job, family life, other interests, and if you have time continue working on your ‘hobby.’
The reasoning behind logic:
If you are really a good cartoonist you don’t have to do it full time, you can manage with a regular job. If you are not, no loss since you have a full-time job, you can fall back upon.
No wonder India churns out the maximum number of engineers. The Number of engineers in India is more than the total number of engineers in the U.S and China combined. If that whopping statistic is not enough, you just have to take a look around to believe it.
If you have ever studied in an engineering college, you would have met that photographer or short film director who would skip classes to pursue his passion. He/she would get berated for having dismal attendance and lack of interest in the ‘important things’ in life. And all kinds of artistic work would be practiced at the back of college notes, from doodling the professor’s face to serious art, writing poems and short stories, the future writers and artists of the country being confined to a class of unending equations while dreaming about their work being recognized.
Before he/she is aware of what is happening boom, college is finished they are placed in a job and wonder endlessly what happened, why they feel a sense of dis-satisfaction. Some of them are brave enough to halt whenever they realize what has happened, take a 360-degree turn and give themselves a chance to do something they are passionate about. But what about others?
Whom to Blame?
Indian educational system needs to be revamped so that students are exposed to various potential careers in eleventh and twelfth, gain hands-on experience and decide on what they want to do. This will save four precious formative years of a student’s life and help in creating a balanced society. Parents need to be aware that all careers need full time dedication be it engineering or an artist(Engineering drawing is not the kind of drawing your son/daughter is talking about when he says he/she wants to become an artist!!) Also more quality educational institutions like Ashoka University and programs like the Young India Fellowship program need to come up ,which would encourage students to take up alternative careers and discover themselves through an education.
What do Anil Kumble, Chetan Bhagat, Raghuram Rajan and Madhavan have in common? Apart from all of them being Indian, they all did Engineering before they forayed into cricket, writing, economics and acting respectively. While young engineers may draw inspiration from them to pursue their passion, highnschoolers need to ask an important question ‘Do I want to spend four years of my life doing something I am not interested in or Do I want to explore, experiment and grow in a field I am passionate about’?