By Aswani Dravid
As soon as I finished my 10th grade with brilliant score, all my relatives and neighbors rushed home to enquire whether I would be opting to become an Engineer or a Doctor. I said neither and to their heart’s surprise, I opted to pursue Humanities. No one stood with me in this. The total strength of my class was 20, while science classes had 60+ students in each division. From then onwards my decision to study Political Science, joining M.Phil, Ph.D etc were seen with contempt as for them it all seemed a waste of money and time. They still believe I am 28 and jobless instead of understanding that I am undertaking a path breaking research in India’s strategic arena. My sister who is 6 years younger to me joined the engineering frenzy and is a graduate now who is successfully placed in Tata Consultancy Services as Systems Engineer at the age of 22.
To the common man in India, a job with decent salary is all that matter. The life cycle of an average Indian is once you are born; you go to school, then to college, get a job, get married, have a child and die. This is the frenzy in which each child is born and raised.
Until the advent of liberalization in India’s job sectors, the common man who was trailing under the caste chains could only look up to administrative jobs as a way to improve their economic and social status. Those limited numbers of government jobs ensured lifelong security to the family and an upward mobility in the class strata. But after the adoption of LPG measures in 1991, much of India’s youth received the outsourced work of foreign companies. Many Multinational companies were established here which again threw open abundant job opportunities, that generated the demand for engineers in Computer Science, IT, Electronics and Communication. Thus started the IT bloom in Indian job sectors and the frenzy for engineering degrees.
Since 2000, India has witnessed millions of engineering degree holders graduating from various universities-Public and Private. Even though IITs’ top the list of these institutes, other colleges are nothing less to majority of the parents who wish to send their wards to earn degrees. Kerala tops the nation in number of engineering colleges and number of graduating students to an extent that there is a popular joke which says every junction in Kerala has an Engineering College. The popular culture has addressed this issue through many films like Om Shanthi Oshana, Makante Achan etc.
The state level entrance exam which is ranked as one of the toughest exams to crack is the decisive factor for admissions to the Engineering colleges. To clear this exam, there are many coaching institutes which are gravely infamous for their inhuman treatment of students. At the age of 14 or 15, these children are churned out to become mere robots who can answer multiple choice questions. This system cannot even be called ‘education’ as there is no learning process involved in it. No amount of quality education is imparted on the children nor are they allowed to think- killing their creativity and individuality, thousands of such robots are extracted out from such coaching institutes.
I have my cousins and friends who studies/ studied there. And with a hidden smile on the corner of their faces, mothers merely say that these institutes are making their children ‘disciplined’. Reading the suicide note of the girl who committed suicide in Kota, which says that her mother manipulated her into liking science, I felt a weird pang in my mind. When will parents understand that each child is an individual in herself/himself?
About the Author
Aswani is currently doing her Ph.D in Maritime Security with the University of Kerala. She has experience as a freelance journalist in the media for four years. Her research background and focus on community collaboration has led her to a number of volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles. Trained in academics and journalism, she constantly probes into the causes and effects of events that we face as a society, through her writing.