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Editor’s Pick: The Power of Passion

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Ashwin Menon:

A sixteen year old student, with a more-than-decent chance of getting into MIT (The Massachussetts Institute of Technology), decides that he would rather try his hand at making rap songs. There’s only one thing left for him to do: get his parents’ permission. Should be a simple decision to make, right? After all, what’s a passion for rap music compared to an opportunity to learn at what is considered the best Institute for technology and science! Well, the catch is that when it comes down to living your life, passion is everything. The student’s parents did let him leave for Hollywood and today we know the “student” better as Will Smith.

Passion – that’s what’s needed here, in India. Here, where most people are in their jobs more for the monetary incentive in the job rather than for the work itself, a few people chasing their passion could make all the difference. From our politicians to our students, it seems that everyone’s just chasing what interests others whereas what we should be pursuing is what it is that interests us. That’s why for a country which has a population of over one billion, you could say our productivity is very “low” — if you don’t like what you are doing right now, you can never be good enough to get satisfactory results. To use a crude (and cheeky) analogy, it’s like being with the wrong girl — your thoughts will always lie elsewhere.

A lot of people make it big not because they had the skills or the degrees, but because they had the passion. Even people not in the arts — Bill Gates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google), Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook) — have dropped out of college and gone on to become billionaires. Many actors worked at small jobs in Hollywood awaiting their big break. Brad Pitt used to work as a chaffeur and even dressed up as a chicken. Johnny Depp dreamed of being a rock star and to facilitate his dream, for a while he sold pens. Yes, not really the lucrative job everyone looks for but it achieved its purpose, giving him enough money to stay just that “little bit longer” in Hollywood.

Which is how it should be! People should spend their lives investing in what drives them and doing what they don’t like only to allow them to chase their passion. That’s probably why USA still has the best institutes despite us pumping our “brightest minds” into the IITs. Their universities are filled with students who are passionate about what they’re learning. In an age where mostly every adolescent in India is primed for life in an engineering (or medical) college, it is important to realise that success is where the heart lies.

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  1. Prashant Garg

    the message is clear..great work!

  2. Shreya

    Hi,
    Nice one. Very passionately written indeed. 🙂

    –Shreya

  3. Anshul Tewari

    Hey Ashwin,

    The article is really good. It is one of those few articles that start on a motivational note. You have hit the spot and are very right that no matter what one does, passion must be given importance and must be pursued. There are people who do not pursure their passions so that they can get a lucrative job and earn money, raise a family, but they soon discover that this is not what they wanted to do.

    This article brings out clearly that if a person pursues his/her passion and that too in a decent and rigorous fashion he is bound to touch new heights.

    Good luck and cheers,

    Anshul Tewari
    Founder and Editor in Chief
    Youth Ki Awaaz: Mouthpiece for the Youth

  4. Abhishek

    Difference between USA and India: should I list it via economic indicators such as per capital incomes or by social schemes as, well, their social security net?

    You say that there are people in the US who make it big due to passion and, I’m quoting here, “not because they had the skills or the degrees”, (a laughable claim in itself, but let’s disregard that for a moment), but apparently in India it’s all mechanical. So why is that? What exactly is the difference between us Indian students and those who study in the US (an important distinction since a good % of them are foreign)? Are we ‘mechanized’ from birth or is it something or parents inculcate in us? If it’s the later, why? And thousand other questions that can and should be asked at this juncture.

    The cardinal fault of this piece is not the unsubstantiated claims that it makes, but its utterly uncritical nature. Fluff pieces are fickle, transient things.

  5. Ashwin Menon

    Thank you for your comments 🙂

    I did not mean for this article to be critical; I was just trying to point out how much of a difference passion can make 🙂

    But to answer your questions, I believe that it’s the latter. Why? I guess a lot of people worry about what others think, rather than just thinking about themselves, for themselves.

    And oops! By “not because they had the skills” what I meant was that the skills weren’t with them at birth – will try and put it better next time 🙂

  6. Elessar

    @Ashwin: Well, maybe you didn’t mean it to be critical, but to me, it seems like it is. Which is a good thing, actually. On the whole, I agree with you to a great extent.

    @Abishek: I wouldn’t call this piece “fluff”, “fickle” or “transient”. It does convey a solid message of grievous importance, even if not very explicitly. The problem has been around for long and will be, in the future. In my opinion, the least we can do to change it, is appreciate and encourage articles like these.
    There is a tremendous pressure on students of all ages from not just parents, but the society as a whole. While it’s definitely healthy to encourage students to study and perform well academically, deluding them into believing that there aren’t any other paths to success is highly irrational and immoral. Despite the poor quantity of surveys and statistical data, we do know that the suicide rates of students are alarmingly high in India. Social pressure concerning education has to be a significant factor in every single case. Surely, this is the biggest alarm for those who considered the matter “superficial”. What’s worse than something that convinces its victims that it’s better to give up their own lives?!
    I am not trying to make any unsubstantiated claims on the suicide rates: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8473515.stm

    On the other hand, I do understand that India is a developing country. So “earning a living” and “supporting the family” are the biggest concerns for a student from a poor family. Hence, given the statistical assurance, a person is less confident to take any risk by following their true passion (I wouldn’t say, “That’s the way life is”! Something should be done about it, but I’m afraid it’ll take time). But what about a student from a middle-class family? Sheer parental and social pressure!
    I am not saying that all students are currently pursuing what they don’t like. All I’m saying is that it’s a herculean task for an average Indian student to follow his passion and make decisions on his own from the age of 18 while that is what almost every other student does in a developed country does.
    It’s almost as if after 62 years of “independence”, an individual doesn’t gain his “freedom” until he graduates with an engineering or medicine degree.

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