By Sumit Kumar:
The recent suicides by teenagers on account of their academic stress and failure to get through exams reveal the enormous pressure encroaching upon the youth of India. They succumb to the burden of expectation enforced on them by their parents and the society at large. The academic system of India or better to say, the societal structure of India, prefers marks over knowledge and wage over talent. Well, the obsession with higher marks or good grade or an education with a higher probability of a ‘six-digit salary job’ is not bad, but it becomes a huge burden on the shoulders of young children who subsequently get entrapped into the vicious cycle of depression and failure and end up giving their lives.
Many editorials, discussions and seminars are being held to find out a pragmatic solution to curb the rising suicide rates of students in India. Some are blaming coaching ‘factories’ while some blame the highly aspirational parents who force their children into high-pressure zones. For me, the only thing to blame is the failure on the part of our society which has developed a binary allowing students to be either “successful” or “unsuccessful”. Securing above 90 percent marks, getting admitted into IIT(s), IIM(s) and other coveted institutions are termed “successful”, while pursuing a ‘normal’ graduation with a ‘normal’ subject in a ‘normal’ university is completely underrated; as if doing a B.Sc or B.A is equal to making a Facebook account.
Isn’t it time we understood that there is much more to life than competitive exams? The resilience and ability to cope with difficult situations determines the life of a person and not the 9.8 grade in a tenth board exam. It is a matter of pride if a student gets high grades in exams but is not a matter of shame or disgrace for any student to get lesser marks. If marks were the sole criteria for someone’s success, Narendra Modi, Mark Zuckerberg, Shahrukh Khan and Bill Gates would have hardly been known figures.
Marks is just an indicator of the alignment of a student towards a given subject and nothing more. If one fails in Physics, he could be a gold-medalist in Biology and vice-versa. The crux of the matter is that exams and grades are nowhere responsible for a person’s success, given that the student and their parents are rational and logical enough to understand these exams simply help you understand yourself and your future course better.
I got 9.2 grade in class 10th and 82.3 percentage in class 12 boards. I took admission in St. Xavier’s in Ranchi and graduated in Chemistry Honours. I have had no exceptional academic achievements in my life except for two Olympiad triumphs and that too when I was in class two and class three. Yet, I love myself. I admire myself, and I will continue to do so until my last breath. I have failed multiple times in my career. In class 11, I wanted to be an engineer but my dream started to recede as I encountered the complicated topics of PCM. In class 12, I fell in love with Chemistry, the very reason behind my admission to St. Xavier’s College in Ranchi. But as soon as I started to dwell deeper into the highly contentious mechanisms of organic chemistry and the recurring exceptions of inorganic chemistry, I got disenchanted with it. Now, I am seeking to pursue Masters in Political Science, because of my inherent love for democratic values and Indian politics. I think that I have finally got the love of my life in politics, but as they say, love nowadays is like the stock market with very high volatility and very low probability.
Nevertheless, the only point I am making is that sometimes it takes time to find the right road to success. If you have erroneously gone on the wrong side, don’t panic, take a U-turn and come back. Have a break-up party with your last subject and start romancing your new passion just like Bunny of ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’. Parents will force their unfulfilled dreams on you, but don’t worry, they are your parents after all, and they have only one dream – to see your happy face. Don’t commit any obnoxious act that may lead your parents into a pathetic state. Talk to your parents and convince them. One day or the other, they will understand your perspective. Follow your passion, mock your foes, love your friends, bully your teachers, bunk some classes, flirt some, ignore the backstabs and listen to “Tu na jane aas paas hai khuda”, if you get depressed anytime. India needs you as much as you need India. So don’t give up on it yet. There’s a lot more than that damned mark sheet.
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