The most stressful time in a teenager’s life is when he/she is forced to join a coaching class. These coaching classes are a multi-million dollar industries. In India, coaching classes for every sort of entrance test at graduation as well as postgraduate levels exist but the most notorious case is that of IIT-JEE coaching classes. A country of well over a billion souls with a sizeable young population either find themselves in poverty or if privileged enough to receive education, the end goal is to either be a doctor or an engineer.
Coaching classes exploiting the hard-working parents that only believe engineering is their saviour; if they want to walk in the evening in their locality with their head held high — the only way is to make their child an engineer. In a society where subjects like Physics, Chemistry, and Maths are considered far superior to subjects of arts and commerce, there is bound to be a doctrine where kids from an early age are spoon fed about this falsified dream of engineering being the only way to be successful and make their family proud. The moment, you step into high school, you find yourself in these coaching classes every day after school hours. Majority of these children are taught that only some years of hard work needs to be done and abandonment of their school life, teenage zest and any passion that they might have should be discarded in order to ace entrance exams and land a place at the coveted IIT. This is a pipe dream because the realistic chance of getting into an IIT is really slim. Let’s do some simple mathematics if 12 lakhs aspirants are appearing for the entrance exam and there are only about 10k seats and out of which only about 5k is reserved for general category, then what is the probability of getting into an IIT? It is as low as about 0.4 %. I know it’s a tough competition but why are we enrolling those participants that clearly are not a fit for such a contest. Why are parents so hellbent in making their child an IITian? Why is engineering the only go to career option for the middle classes? Why coaching classes that are clearly business making entities thriving? Why there are so many engineering colleges springing up, operating like factories and churning out washed up engineers?
The situation never really gets addressed in this country. Why are we so hell bent in producing engineers mercilessly? Everything boils down to one thing — respect in society. I don’t really understand this Indian notion of respect and honour — if you are an IITian, you are almost considered as a royalty. Yes, you have a cracked a tough competition and have become an engineer with a stable job, but that doesn’t make you an automatic candidate to earn my respect yet. All of the hard work you did was out of self-interest and that’s fine. Your IIT degree doesn’t make you a superior human being or will overshadow any of your bad traits. The point is that respect in society should be earned with the merits of social behaviour, etiquettes and doings, not on the basis of degrees. I will respect a person irrespective of his rocket science credential or liberal arts degree but on the basis of human quality. In India, education is limited to long hours of studying and clearing entrance exams; there is no stress on civic education or even stress on the importance of physical fitness, but only the enticing vision of medical and engineering colleges. Parents want to feel superior if their child is an engineer; so they can boast in front of their friends, colleagues and relatives who have their kids enrolled in supposed inferior by Indian standard — arts and commerce colleges. In India, getting in an IIT is not at all about learning engineering nuances and passion, but rather about socio-economic reasons. There will be a stable job and in the arrange marriage network — an IIT engineer, despite his flaws as a human being, would be able to get the desired bride with a bag full of dowry goodies; sexism works in a mysterious way and in this IIT/engineering scenario — if a girl is a qualified engineer from IIT or any other prominent institute, then there would be less number of prospective groom available for her. This is because she is now overqualified and boy’s parents are intimidated by the fact that the girl is well educated and can earn as much or even more compared to their son.
Engineering is one profession that makes march ahead in the future; it’s beautiful and extremely important for a progressive world but in India when you run colleges as factories that are producing a sea of engineers that are mediocre or have become engineers half-heartedly, then you are creating visibly frustrated, depressed and unemployed youth. In our country, jobs are plenty in the IT sector, and anyone who has for four years studied any other branch would eventually succumb and like a sheep in a herd join the mass recruitment of a multinational entity. People work better when they care about their work, by mass producing engineers in an Indian society, we are hindering the efficiency of youth workforce.
Let’s make it a point where young child doesn’t need to be forced into becoming an engineer or a doctor; these coaching classes and overzealous parents should talk about complexity of life and not brainwash children into thinking that engineering is their saviour and being an IITian is the ultimate goal towards happiness; because when these children would face the real-life situations, they would soon realise that engineering is not the only choice and way to happiness — they would loathe you and the whole system of Indian education. Coaching classes are clear cut money hungry corporations selling hollow dreams that engineering and medical profession are the only clear-cut ways for a happy life. Let your worldview grow and see that the modern world cares about talent, not a brainwashed engineer; IITs are great but they are not the mecca for greatness; people rise up in their life because of their sheer talent, the conduct of themselves and the work they do.
Let engineering be an option for a child who is genuinely interested, sees his/her future in it. Let children be talked with and guided about real life, rather than brainwashed by sinister coaching classes and frustrated parents who believe that engineering is the only noble profession out there. India is in a transition, there are lots of frustrated engineers who are beginning to realise the lies they were fed as a kid and how engineering has nothing to do with said success, respect, and happiness. Thanks to social media and an exposure to a world of numerous career options, people are ditching the lies and opting for what they love. Even the coveted IItians are turning to the so-called inferior liberal arts and commerce. Let the lies die down and not besmirch this beautiful profession of engineering; let engineering be left with students who are passionate about it; let there be genuine colleges as opposed to horrendous money making colleges at every corner of the street; let coaching classes die down and pave way for genuine teachers guiding passionate aspirants and let IIT be seen as an engineering college and not hailed as God’s own creation because at the end of the day it’s just a building.
The engineering colleges with the exception of some are mostly about mass producing students without stirring a sense of passion, love, and career inkling towards their career pathways. Anyways the education system has always been like this where marks and class rank mattered but not the creative growth of a student. At colleges, it’s all about scoring marks, pandering to professors and getting campus placements. Coaching classes prep a student for the entrance test without stirring any form of excitement regarding what being an engineer means. Now, when a student fresh out of a school — that taught him/her things that really isn’t concrete enough to tackle real-life scenarios, faces a weird kind of a challenge.
Parents, teachers and the society all shout at the top of their voices to go out and become an engineer but failing to mention what an engineer does. Colleges just like the age-old Indian formula are interested in mugging from books and vomit it in the exam sheet. The real world is tough and engineering is not all the solution a kid needs. If you had foretold the real scenarios that passion should be left outside before entering an educational institution in India, then that would have been a help. Young men and women, enter college, hoping that being an engineer would be exciting and thrilling; little do they know that it’s all about some mindless grind of endless examinations.
The engineering colleges in India aren’t interested in kindling the interest in engineering or as a matter of fact, leap into big innovations. It’s all about mass producing young men and women for multinational IT companies. We ask, why Indians aren’t at the world stage in innovation and creative field? Well at the world stage we prove to be hard workers; we excel at desk jobs and being model students. Throughout our schooling and college education, we only learn that creativity and passion are hobbies, while daily monotonous grind is the profession.
The mass-produced engineers don’t know shit about conjuring up innovations but are trained dogs to work at desk jobs. That’s why in India when someone goes through the soul-crushing experience of an engineering college, they latch on to their passions and changes their career directions. There are only a few souls, who love engineering enough to see it through the end and make something of themselves. The Indian mentality of education helps coaching classes extort large sums of money of preparing children to become future engineers who can work in IT companies for horrid pay and bitter life.
The following article is from soon to be published book, ‘In India: Everything is Sunshine and Rainbows!’