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Choices, Dreams And Destiny: Where Has The Space For Creativity Gone?

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By Lata Jha:

To beta, aap engineering kar rahe ho? Nahi? To medical?” it’s pretty bizarre that random people(who, I may add, have no other way to while away time) at social gatherings or any public place, for that matter, ask me questions like these that have the ability to ruin my day and bring out the nastiest, angriest and arguably the most anguished in me.

No, I’m not studying engineering. Not because I didn’t have the marks, but because I never wanted to. I also think that people from colleges apart from the IITs of the world can make something of life.


I was a student of Humanities. And I’m now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism. In the two years that I’ve been in college, I’ve pretty much been happy about the choice I made. Not once have I wanted to turn the clock back and change things. And yet, I’m baffled by the look people give me when I tell them what my field of study is. As blissfully oblivious as you may be of it, there’s a life beyond the fields your worlds revolve around.

While in many respects, we may have come a long way from the proverbial Indian way of life that for instance, favoured boys over girls but I’m saddened by how bound we still are to certain stereotypes. Children in many cities like mine and yours are brought up, knowing each day of their lives that they can dream only one dream. Creativity and experimentation are out of bounds. Get an engineering degree, take the UPSC exam, live your life only this one way.

I don’t have a problem with engineering and medical students. A lot of my friends are studying those very subjects. But I do have a problem with the fact that even today, those are the only institutes and fields of study that the majority take seriously. Does somebody who qualifies for a National Law University not deserve as much praise as an IITian? Just because he’s chosen to look at cases rather than cars and chemicals? It pains me when people who top NIFT entrance exams are looked upon as if it were a piece of cake for them compared to some bookworm who’s probably reached the moon by managing to get into Kalinga.

Does the nation only need engineers and doctors? What about providing good media schools to generate quality press? In fact, how about taking journalism as a course a little more seriously? How about according more respect to History, Political Science and Sociology students who top your UPSC exams? Or who go on to become learned teachers at your own universities?

I agree it’s about a certain mindset that we’ve lived with since time immemorial that particular jobs give you security and stability. What about the question then of creativity and individuality? Aren’t we producing mere clones this way? If every child is supposed to take up Science and become an engineer, irrespective of whether he wants to or if he has the aptitude for it, what differentiates one from another? Or someone truly brilliant from someone who’s been pushed into it? Didn’t you yourself read stories of being brave and holding one’s own to your children? What happened then when he said he wanted to take up Commerce after the 10th?

I’ve seen friends weep through two years of miserable +2, when Science didn’t turn out to be their cup of tea. Only to take up social science in college. What rationale is this? As anguished and cynical as it may sound, only engineers and doctors cannot make a country. You need the actors, the fashion designers, the lawyers, the accountants, the soldiers and the journalists. So while I’m not saying these professions do not deserve respect, my point is we should learn to value and respect other jobs just as much.

I don’t see why a NIFTian can’t share the newspaper page with an IITian. And why government felicitation ceremonies can’t honour both on the same stage? If success is what we measure the worthiness of life by, markers like educational streams are way too insignificant. There are things you are made and destined for.

I don’t think I’ve made a better decision than my choice of study in my twenty years. And I was fortunate to have parents who completely understood what I was meant for. Which is why, this article that you may find overtly whiny is more for the parents of the world. The ones who, in wanting the best for their children, push them towards norms and convention and destroy their dreams and potential. I don’t want to be preachy, I am no one to judge or advice. I have no idea what being a parent is like. But I do know how dreams are nurtured. Under the reams of star filled eyes and a vision for the future. I know what it is like when people look down upon and don’t take seriously your field of study. But you live with the faith that you have your parents and yourself to fall back on.

And you know, if what I say still doesn’t make much sense, go by the lesson that otherwise grossly over rated film about the three friends taught us, about following your heart, running after excellence, not success. And success will come following the trail.

Photo Credit: Michele Catania via Compfight cc

You must be to comment.
  1. Meenal Thakur

    lata!! congrats!!!!!!!! first column …… and its amazingly written just as always!!
    all the best …. way to go (Y)

  2. Lata Jha

    Thank you so so much, Meenal! 🙂

  3. namita singh

    Brilliant Lata!
    lovely 🙂
    every bit of it !

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you so much, Namita 🙂

  4. sadaf mirza

    Great I can relate to this and u Ofcourse 🙂
    Way to go:)
    All the best:-)

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you so much, Sadaf 🙂

  5. shefali sharan

    as I said , amazing !

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you, Shefali 🙂

  6. Stuti Khosla

    How much I have missed reading your work! Truly a treat for the soul. Keep writing! 🙂

    1. Lata Jha

      I will 🙂
      Thank you so much for reading 🙂

  7. Suprita Ranjan

    good one lata… 🙂

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you, Suprita 🙂

  8. Shraddha Chaudhary

    Well written 🙂
    Liked the bit about the National Law School student 😀

    Anyway, the first line is a little longer than it probably should have been. Otherwise I couldn’t find any flaws. Good job!

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you 🙂

  9. Mridul Sharma

    A very well written composition. But at the same time your article seems to be focused more around the comparison between the IITs and the NIFTs which doesn’t go well with the title of the article. Also the fact that you chose a top level comparison does not leave any space of interest for an average or an above average Child with a little less than exceptional creativity, for he may still remain baffled with a fear of not being able to get into the best place to explore his creativity but somehow engineering will assure him of a decent place (even if not an IIT). Perhaps you belong to an upper segment of students and must be studying in one of the finest institute for journalism. I do not say that the article is unintelligible. In fact it is a treat to read. I just found it difficult to correlate the title with the composition as I feel that the space for creativity should not be limited to the students who can only qualify for NIFT or NLS but also to those who are average but good enough to be willing to explore their Choices, Dreams and Destiny. For this article I would have suggested a title like “Creativity, Beyond IIT..” or maybe something like that. Perhaps it’s just my way of thinking. Pardon me.

    1. Lata Jha

      I completely get your point. And I agree with it as well. I didn’t at all mean to cater to any one segment of students. Like you, I’m all for every child finding himself. Which is why, I said all of us are destined for certain things. And exam scores and educational streams are insignificant markers in the long run.
      Will definitely try to focus better on the points you mentioned in a later article.
      Thank you so much for reading 🙂

  10. Lali Adhikari

    wooooo Lata it was aawwsmm ……congratulation…..

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you, Lali 🙂

  11. navin

    good coloumn from a budding journalist

  12. shruti kapoor

    Loved this piece and it resonates with so many of us. We still live in a society where Drs. and Engineers are often perceived as the only serious profession. People believe creativity is for people who are not good in studies 🙂 The fact that an average journalist or a painter makes much less money than an av. doc or engineer is a proof of how the society values and deems one more imp than the other. High time this changes and people look beyond the stereotype careers. Everyone can be a doc or an eng. but not everyone can be a good writer or a poet!! One must follow our heart, our passion and success will follow us regardless of the profession!

  13. Shilpy

    Journalism is a disciple parents believe everyone is , reality is different , not everybody is courageous enough to be a journalist.

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