Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Great Indian Envy

Ask a young 14 year old, "What do you want to do?". "Engineering!", comes the prompt reply in 90 out of 100 cases. This is at an age when the kid is oblivious to the very question, "What is life?". "What is engineering?", you ask next, and you see an empty blank face.

Its not restricted to engineering. The trend seems to be changing, though the basic idea is the same. And the basic idea behind this, is trend (:P). You ask a 10th class student in Delhi, and invariably the answer would be "Economics (honors) from Delhi University". What is the problem in this, you ask? What is wrong in being focussed and determined, you say?

Nothing wrong, but then you should be clear about what your goal is in life. And at such a young age, how can you be so sure about what you want to study, when you are not sure what your goal in life is?

Does it sound plausible that every year 3 lakh Indian students want to study from IITs? Does it sound plausible that every year the 4000 students that get through JEE want to study computer science as their first option? Does it make sense that 4000 people sacrifice their passion (suppossedly computer science for the majority), and pursue any damn engineering degree they can for the tag? Is it believable that 4 lakh students every year want to study from an IIM. Ha! Whats wrong with everyone? :O

No wonder you find a majority of IITians taking up non-engineering jobs, some even unconventional ones like being a film director, or even a writer. Because these four years give you ample time for "self discovery", away from the maddening crowd.

To quote from Sunscreen, by Baz Luhrmann, "The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t."

I would say that children get forced into believing what they want from life, only to later realise what they set out to do was never what they really wanted. And what drives this forcing? Envy?

"If his son can do it, so can mine." Nurture the kid into believing that he was meant for engineering, or medical sciences, or whatever. Whatever sounds cool. Whatever would give us a respectable place in the society. Whatever would earn big bucks.

I am not talking about those fraction of the people who enjoy the liberty of pursuing what they really believed in. But those majority, who are under the illusion of what they want in life.

Envy of a sibling, envy of a friend, envy of the topper of the class, envy of those who have more money, envy of those who are happier, fulfilling the envy of your parents, or even being the envy of others, envy comes in attractive gift-wrapped packages of several sizes.

Why cant we go backpacking around the world, into a journey of self-discovery? :)

The Great Indian Envy...


  1. Life is no longer about living, but "getting" a living. People are just playing it safe, conforming to the known, oppressive but known. The spirit of exploration is dead. And about the answer to "What is Life? What is Engineering?", I doubt one ever gets the answer(the engineering part just doesn't make sense).
    PS: Agla kya? Avarice? Gluttony? Wrath? Lust? Lust! Lust! Lust!

  2. "Why cant we go backpacking around the world, into a journey of self-discovery? :)"

    I don't think the smile at the end is justified. The problem with youngsters is not the envy, but the fact that unless you do something "that's supposed to" pay well, you are not going to survive. This harsh reality, unfortunately, has its roots in the burgeoning number of people that end up competing for the same amount of resources. And this, then gives rise to the 'safe' mentality, which, in turn, gives rise to the 'trend',as you rightly pointed out.

    The truth is, many people are not even in a position to contemplate the (seemingly ideal)option that you suggest.

  3. Hey! It's easy to go backpacking. We are wired to be footloose, it's associated with escape. One always has the choice, he/she just doesn't get off his/her ass and make it. There is nothing wrong with the system, the nation. So pack the bags and let the trip be a classic affirmation of everything right and true in the national character. A gross physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country. But only for those with true grit. :P

  4. @Monty, do you think survivial is that difficult? I agree there are other issues involved, i just happened to relate it to envy, I hope my attempt made some sense.

    @Sir Tokes A Lot, finally you comment :P. I am honored. "What is Life? What is Engineering?" are a part of separate sentences. You might want to read it again.

    @Sir Tokes A Lot (again), agla jo bhi hoga, lust nahi hoga. I prefer saving the best for the last ;)

  5. Exactly,
    most of the people impute around 20-25yrs of their life in becoming someone who surrounds them from their infantry. But the mystery of life is to find what we already are.
    (Assumption: 1/3rd life =24-25yrs)
    It an irony of life that many people spent 1/3rd of life studying so that they can earn a lot of money in their next 1/3rd by doing some jobs which they probably doesn't like. and in the final 1/3rd life when its time for becoming pious that money is used for their child education.
    About IITIANS-
    When they have sacrificed 1/3rd of the life for getting into IIT, a lot of IITIANS start retrospecting themselves when they don't like the study at kgp, and start dreaming about what they would like to be and where they see themselves after 20 yrs, during lectures snoring. One should be thankful to these lectures which make it possible for them to dream, as in rooms they don't have time to think of themselves,because conscious gets busy enjoying pRons, cyber gaming etx.
    So, if you haven't started sleeping in lectures than start doing so, otherwise you probably will be wasting you next 1/3rd lyf in licking your boss ASS.:P

  6. don't worry dude... B.Tech will be like matriculation in days to come... And ppl will diversify to their field of interest from after their B.Tech degree. Considering the present trend, every person in India be it a designer, interior decorator, fashion arist, painter, politician, policeman, army personnel, dancer, fashion model, singer, music artist, actors etc etc will at the least have a B. Tech degree. As the saying goes the nature takes care of itself...