ByÂ Nihal Parashar:
I have a bleak memory of what happened with a friend of mine seven years back. It was 2006 when we gave our 10th boards. Being in a city like Patna we did not enjoy the liberty of choosing streams in 11th. We do as we are told. I had a friend who was excellent in calligraphy and painting and was interested in arts and aesthetics. I took Commerce, but he was ‘advised’ to opt for Science. Two years later, before our 12th boards results were out, my friend bought the entrance form of NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) with his savings. Although I was sure that he would crack the entrance, but his father was totally appalled by the very idea. His final verdict for my friend was that he must become an ‘engineer’.
In Bihar, if you fail an exam, the world ends for you and at a time when one needs family the most, it discards you. Fortunately for me, based on my result, I got through the Delhi University and opted for Literature, but my friend had flunked in his Physics exam. I quite remember that a year later the same friend appeared for AIEEE and IIT entrance exams but could not crack either, and his father called me and asked about the best private engineering colleges. Now even though my friend got through one of the colleges in Jaipur, he is still trying to clear his last semester exams. A talent wasted.
The bigger question: Why is our society obsessed with dictating a teenager’s career choice? At an age when you are eligible to choose the leader of your country, you are not allowed to choose your own career. Dual standards, surely.
I have immense respect for my friend’s father and also know that he wanted the best for his son, but what I don’t understand is the obsession with ‘engineering’? This is a complex question and cannot have a simple answer.