I remember the days when I got through this nightmare called ‘JEE’ and my primary relatives heaved a sigh of relief as they told my parents, “Aapka ek beta to set ho gaya.” I was now busy exploring ‘scope’ (Read: Salary package before Convocation) of various departments of different IITs. The curve was pretty non-linear with respect to time as well as that of department. I was cursing myself how come I darkened the circle for 3 as the bond order of oxygen. Had I circled 2 as the answer, I would have been in a much better (Read: predicted to be financially more secure) situation. But what was done could not be undone! After all, I had insulted the gas which I had been using in large quantities since my birth. I deserved the situation I was in.
I called the son of sister-in-law of niece of my neighbor’s second degree relative. Initially it took me a minute to explain him who I was, and he took another minute to absorb the same. I asked him politely, “Bhaiya job to lag jaati hai na, koi bhi department ho? “. The reply was, “Sofware companies are open for all departments, you shall easily get one.” I, in my own infinite wisdom, replied, “Haan bhaiya main software mein waise bhi bohot strong hu”.
Finally, the counselling day came. I could see guys (girls omitted because of the pathetically low sex ratio which is <<1). I, with my uncle, who boasted to be most aware of seat availability trends (He is actually a PWD office- Public Works Department, so most of his day goes counting seats here and there), went to the counseling. As I entered the auditorium, I could see many sage-looking creatures around whom vagabond disciples like me were wandering around. My uncle: “Do not worry Rishabh, I will guide you.” We found that a professor sitting on the Aerospace desk was free.
My uncle: “Sir ye bataiye, Hindustan Aeronautics ka to business chal nahi raha, kaun kaun si companies aati hai?” Professor A: “There are other national agencies as well which recruit students. I am an entrepreneur- meri khud ki ek company hai.”
Uncle: ” Ye hui na baat. Chirag tale andhera. Hum company dhoond rahe the aur yahan khud company humein dhoond rahi thi”
Prof. A (confused) opened his mouth to say something, but remembered some phrase and smiled pleasantly, at least it seemed that he smiled pleasantly. Uncle (to me): “Work hard, then only Sir will take you in company, got it?” Now was the turn of a civil engineering professor. A tall guy, with spects and seemingly very stern personality was sitting alone.
Seemed no one was interested in talking about civil engineering or may be he was made to sit on the wrong day of counselling. He smiled as we went over to him.
Uncle: ” Hello, I am an officer in PWD (Public Works Department), I am sure Civil Engineers are future of the country and there are enough jobs and opportunities.”
Prof. B: “Yes, you see, Civil engineering is …. (blah blah ).. ” I did not pay much attention to him as my eyes got on to the last year counseling closing and opening ranks sheet of various departments he was holding.
I (to myself): “Civil started at 2502 last year, I am 400 above it, almost 18% of it, why am I wasting my time here? Let me talk to Biotechnology professors”. I walked away from there and came to the desk of bio-engineering. I was confused. I had known that engineering and medical are the two options out of which we had to choose one and worship it as our life path. How can they both come together?
I asked Prof. C about this doubt of mine. He went into some pensive mood for a few moments and then replied, “It is a new arena of interdisciplinary research. Industries in India are yet setting up. Job opportunities are very good, especially if you hold a Masters or PhD.” Uncle barged in saying, “Hello! Actually I work on statistics in PWD, please show me the statistics of job packages for last few years.” Professor C handed over something to me. Uncle did some astronomic calculations, and told me “Here we will get your brother admitted when he gets selected, tu mechanical lele”
I filled in mechanical and got it as soon as the results were declared. I have been fed that department does not matter much. The natural course of evolution says that after B. Tech. from IIT comes MBA from IIM. I was happy after learning that mechanical is an evergreen (Read: Immune to effects of recession) field. On the reported day, I came into the institute. There was an Orientation session for freshers, and some tagged seniors, better known as ‘Student Guides’ were allotted to prevent the young cubs from clutches of seniors.
We had a trip to mechanical engineering department in Orientation days. I was trying to be most patient when the professor was trying to explain the operation of a gyroscope. Then our HoD came. He asked all of us our reasons for choosing Mechanical Engineering at this particular IIT. Answers like “I am interested in learning machines and motion”, “My father is an engineer, and he says core of engineering is mechanical engineering” (blah blah) started pouring in. I was lost in thoughts what would I say, and I did not realize that the snake had crawled till me.
HoD: “Yes, you, why did you join Mechanical engineering?” I fumbled for a moment. “Should I say my uncle told me to?” Suddenly something struck me, and I said: “My teacher once told me that jab tak sooraj chand rahega 3 departments ka naam rahega– mechanical, biotech and environment, and I saw the faculty here is the best. So I joined mechanical.”
All were shocked for a moment, but then my HoD patted my back after the session, and said, “This institute needs people like you to grow.”
I (to myself), “Society also thinks that I need this institute for my growth (Read: Growing trees of currency).”
I have been here in this institute for around four years now, and have tried to explore the effects of the forging, students go through to gain admission to this place on their long term plans. Dr. H C Verma, the author of the ‘Concepts of Physics’ (the Bible for any JEE aspirant) says, “JEE has today become a target for students, the goal of life. That is a false target.” This looks to be indeed true- the quench for knowledge among many of us is no longer alive- the candle has lived its life, and it’s time for the wax to deposit around, to form an impermeable clot of the myopic expectations of getting into a position, that would fetch us more dowry.
Is this the way to India 2020? Can the present generation, with this mentality, ever lead the development of the nation and society? Will your girlfriend marry you if are pursuing your studies in civil engineering unless you have an MBA? What is actual brain drain — students emigrating for jobs or herd of students blindly joining the rat race? How can an aptitude test in class 12 or any stage ever decide what is going to be the future course of one’s life?
I hope that this present trend mentioned above is just a mutation in the genes that shall die in due course of time. I am sure that natural course of evolution shall follow and India shall evolve as Dr. Kalam opines. Let us follow our heart, and let our passion be our profession!
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student at IIT- Kanpur.
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