When Engineering scored over Sanskrit...

In my younger days I often used to be flummoxed by the question, “What do you plan to do?” or “Have you decided what you want to do in life?” Because I never really had an answer. Although life was far, far more simpler then, I hadn't been able to decide whether I should pursue a career in Accountancy or one in Advertising, or whether I should seek a scholarship abroad. Going abroad for study was a huge thing in those days and it needed the determination and skills that I didn't quite possess. Also, there was the thought of leaving family and friends at the back of my mind. So, dreams of landing on foreign shores evaporated quickly and I was content enrolling for Commerce in the city where I grew up. The fact that it was one of Calcutta’s best colleges added to my sense of satisfaction.

There was no persuasion from either of my parents to take up something specific; neither of them even visited my college. At that age you were expected to do all that was needed to get in. There were not too many courses. You either opted for Science or Commerce or Arts. I had some skills in drawing and was tempted to enrol for Arts but chose Commerce, driven by the pack. There was the assuring thought that my uncle would help find a decent job for me. He finally didn't. It was actually a blessing in disguise. For I learnt to stand on my own two feet and after starting off as a management trainee at Brooke Bond’s never really looked back. That of course was my best job, one that I dumped to get back to city life, a decision I rue to this day.

Memories of my college days sprung up from almost nowhere when a close friend told me a few weeks ago that she was intent on getting her only daughter into an engineering college although the girl’s interest lay in pursuing Sanskrit. The mother had her eyes focused on the future – if her daughter was to pursue higher education or work in the US of A, a Sanskrit degree would do her no good. At least that was what the mother felt. To fulfil her (mother) dreams, she paid Rs 7 lakh or more. No receipt, mind you; amount not refundable. All the money came from her savings. She had to gnaw into her fixed deposits.

The story left me wondering why many parents and teachers today are not content leaving their children to do what they want. My daughter wanted to do Psychology ever since she was in Class 7 or 8 and that is what she ended up doing. Am sure, left to herself, this girl would have happily settled for Sanskrit and probably made a mark some way in the future. Not that she can’t with Engineering… Of course, the mother wanted the very best for her daughter and is keen to enrol her for a Sanskrit correspondence course. 

However, at the end of the day, it’s all about jobs and money nowadays, not the love or passion for a particular subject. No wonder then that the Arts and the Humanities are so neglected! It’s why our social fabric has crumbled beyond recognition. Because what these streams can teach, in terms of becoming a well-rounded and wholesome human being, few others can. I now wish I had taken up the Arts. Sadly, I can't turn the clock back. But may be some day I will enrol for a course in Literature. 


r said…
well written, i loved it. one day the society will be so imbalanced that managing it would become very difficult. particularly we indians are driven by a 'herd mentality', when one amongst the herd runs in one direction, the rest too follow it faithfully. now the herd is flocking towards IT, which ironically is not a core sector. romancing with what you love will not only be productive for oneself but also for the family and the society; instead of ending up as 'also ran's. the earlier parents realize this, the better it would be for their children.
padmum said…
I don't think that parents will ever learn about letting a child follow his/her own interests. The more common parent is the one who wants the kid to pursue a professional educational course. Nowadays I know of parents who bend backwards to show that they are not traditional/conventional parents and go out of their way to push kids into unconventional fields while their offspring is happier being a mathematician or engineer or doctor....and the family profession also kicks in in the equation. Lovely post. Thanks.
Rummuser said…
That poor kid. She will be miserable all her life because of her mother's desire to be considered as the mother of an Engineer rather than a Sanskrit Pundit. Very common now a days and that is how we land up with unemployable graduates.

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