ByÂ AmreetaÂ Das:
Fraught with dichotomies as our society is, the caste system still obliquely exists in India. The reservation for schedule castes and the resultant contention during college admission and job applications, where a person with a caste certificate unjustly and illogically gets preference, ignites cries of dissatisfaction. Drawing an analogy, this fundamental bent towards segregation not only plagues our society but our education system as well.
The division of streams is gradually becoming tantamount to this. Here, academic and intellectual quality isn’t assessed based on the student’s particular inclination towards a subject. Passion and talent is slaughtered almost audibly as scores of a student grudgingly take up Science in class 11, simply to protect the family’s prestige! Doesn’t this sound wholly ridiculous?
How is prestige defined in this context? Just because some neighbour or distant relative’s son became a successful IIT-ian, that immediately becomes a goal that the class 9 student must reach to satisfy his\her family. Even students faring badly in their class 10 results with almost nil aptitude for science are forced into studying the monstrously thick biology and physics books. The student is subjected to constant mental torture at home. Often tagged as worthless, inattentive or dull head, life becomes equivalent to an infernal experience to the student. Quite naturally, his/her general process of mental and intellectual growth is compromised, and sadly enough, despite being the victims of such tortures, and suffering disastrously, they refuse to learn. Thus, their children are often victimized in a similar, if not in a more brutal manner.
But what about a student who is good in biology and chemistry, but still would prefer studying history or literature? Now, they are our modern heretics. Even such thoughts are heavily condemned, and if a student is able to break the convention, he/she is a social outcast. Ceaseless whispers and rumours would buzz around, and the only way to peace would be to use earmuffs!
Again, here, if the student is male, the torture gets trebled. In tandem with our chauvinistic society, an option always open for the girl is marriage. However, the male’s primary interest is earning a living for his family. With the promise of secured jobs and placement after graduating from an engineering college, the male student is plagued more intensively to relinquish all his personal interests for earning quick money. Also, the dream for a supposed lavish lifestyle has maddened the youth. Thus, many times, there is a willing sacrifice of one’s own creative or innovative devices to participate in the race for more money.
This insane mindset has created a different kind of business altogether: The business of imparting education through tuitions. It was quite shocking to hear that the tuition fees have now exceeded the school’s monthly fees. There are several private tutors who charge around Rs.3000 for teaching a single subject. One single batch comprises of more than 40 students. It seems the future Ambanis and Birlas, rather than being businessmen, would be these tuition teachers. And so much ado, leads to? A comfortable lifestyle, a secured future, a stereotypic job!
Life is tragically belittled and constricted into a form of existence that involves the satisfaction of blunt material pleasures. No wonder aesthetic and finer senses are almost on the verge of extinction.
The flip side of this coin bears an ugly image. This frantic chase behind the science stream has conversely made the Arts- if not so much the commerce stream, an abode of the mediocre. Quite ironically, even students who later pursue literature or other such courses, take up science, since that seems to evaluate the actual potential of a student. The future pivot, though not often desired, is still permitted. But Humanities in the +2 level is tantamount to sinning. Since subjects offered in the stream requires nothing but mindless learning, heaps of sighs are heaved when a student is fated such. This trend has slaughtered cognitive skills. Subjects such as history, literature, political science, and economics require much more than plain learning. They are subjects that tease the grey cells continually, if studied in their true spirits. Wouldn’t we be rootless individuals without an ample knowledge of history? The world would crumble without economics! Literature is the spiritual essence of human existence, a vital force behind this mundane life.
The quest for knowledge has completely disappeared with the emergence of this career- centric education. The popular argument is that a student of humanities does not get the varied career options easily available for a science student. Though there is some practical truth attached to this statement, its meaning is wholly exaggerated. I believe that if one loves a particular field, one is bound to succeed with proper enterprise. If a writer is forced to work in an IT company or, an IT official is forced to comment on Shakespeare’s poetry, the outcome is quite understandable. So, the basic failure of our society lies here. There is no recognition of individual potential. Mass mentality and inclinations are acknowledged. Since the crowd studies science, the individual must comply.
Everyone is engaged in a blind scramble for a space in the bandwagon, jealously watching its leaders. But what everyone fails to notice is that millions are simply trampled under this bandwagon. They bleed to death or live in misery. This is reminiscent of our ancient caste system, where a particular caste was branded as honourable or dishonourable, thus undermining the potentials of the individuals who comprised it. Thus, their vocations were the inherited means for survival. We are moving, once again, into this system. It would not be too shocking to witness a future where a class of science-educated aristocracy would emerge, who would assert special rights claiming more intelligence and potential than the remaining lot who were fated to study something else. Can you imagine where the writer or the poet would exist in such a society?