Thursday, March 12, 2009



A 19yr old asked an 11 yr old : “ What is your goal in life ? ”

Pat came the reply from the latter, a cute smart boy : “ Oh ! to get admission into IIT .”

[ For those, who do not know what IIT stands for – it is Indian Institute of Technology – there are only a few of them and they are like the Jewels in the Crown of Mother India. It is believed that once you gain entry into an IIT somehow, your life is made (true if one goes by professional success the IITians have actually achieved from day one both nationally and internationally). It is the loftiest dream of most of the parents to have their kid in IIT and most of them have also seen to it that their child also sees the same dream ( alas !!). Children need to be exceptionally ‘bright’ in academics, scoring incredibly high in the qualifying exam( + 2) AND passing a really tough special Entrance Test to get into IITs, for which they start taking extremely rigorous coaching ( I really wonder, when these kids get to breathe… literally ? Class, coaching for usual course of 10th/12th, plus special coaching - I call it going through torture of the nth degree when you transcend all feelings and stop feeling the torture itself !! ]

So, back to the interesting conversation. The boy says that it is his goal to get into IIT . I just happened to be around there. The 19 yr old girl whispered to me : “ See!, how pathetic ! I asked him what is his “goal in life ”– that is, what would he like to become in life and he says getting into IIT. Is getting into IIT a goal in itself ? At the least, he could have said that he wants to become an Engineer ! How sad – parents these days are to blame – they only drill all this crap deep into the young minds – so deep that the children can not think clearly for themselves and just fall in line with the fad of the day !!” Incidentally, this girl is amongst those courageous few who have found their own calling on their own .

Well… I could not have agreed more on that. It is truly sad how the kids these days in our part of the world are being led to believe that “ the be all and end all ” of their lives is to gain admission into reputed institutes like IITs/ NITs/IIMs etc., understandably because gaining entry into these institutes would facilitate achieving their goal of becoming an engineer or management professional of top order. But the pity is, in their blind pursuit of joining the race, people fail to realise when some facilitating factor( getting admission to an Inst.) is turning into the goal itself ( becoming an engineer – although, I do not consider becoming an engineer can be anyone’s true goal in life ), thereby limiting all other wide possibilities of “ becoming” in life !! Very few are there who display the courage and true understanding as parents to encourage their kids to dance to a different drummer, if that be so required – to let the child discover her own true calling – to allow the child to decide if she would become just another face in the crowd or a face in the crowd !

Yes, I, too, felt sad to hear what the 11 yr old said. BUT … Guess what ! The next moment, I was inundated with a surge of happiness.

Hey, everything is not yet lost . There is still a lot of HOPE for this world of ours . Just think of what the 19 yr old remarked – how the 19yr old “thought” !!

Yes, if the 19 yr old could think with so much of clarity on “goal”, the difference between “ getting into IIT” and “ becoming an Engineer ” ; if the youth of her generation has started thinking with such discernment and meaningful insight, I am sure, in due course, these thinking minds will eventually know the difference between :

“ becoming an Engineer and “ being able to Construct a Bridge

“ Constructing a Bridge” and “ being able to Connect geographical places

“Connecting geographical places” and “being able to Connect people across geographical separation”

“ Connecting people and “being able to connect the hearts, minds and souls ”

It all boils down to knowing “what your goal is” and “ why you want that as your goal” (i.e. your ultimate purpose in life );

- above all, knowing the difference between the ecstacy of getting to the destination/goal ( connecting hearts, minds and souls )Vrs the joys n wonders of the journey itself ( getting into an IIT, becoming an Engineer, getting a fulfilling job, delivering value through projects and assignments that touch people’s lives !)

A lot of hope there , I swear ! Honestly, when we were 19 yrs old , we were never thoughtful and wise enough as today’s 19 yr olds !

Notwithstanding the negatives today, tomorrow will be really brighter and dazzling , and that’s what I truly believe.

LET HOPE permeate every life on this beautiful planet that we all live on !







Asha said...

Great post! Yes, kids are under lot of pressure by society and parents too. If a kid wants become a doctor, so be it but he/she shouldn't become anything because he is expected to be there. My nephew is about to go to med school because his grandfather, my fil, wants him there! sad!

Anonymous said...

Don't we all brain wash our children (mostly the Asian side of the world) to become either a doctor, lawyer, engineer or a big shot in the government bureaucracy so that they can loot the general public of their it because we don't have any dignity for labor. Where as thier western counterparts are proud to say (14 yrs and beyond)...look I got a bagging job at the local grocery store and parents are proud to announce among their son/daughter is now working. Instead we should be teaching our kids...whatever you do, do it with dignity and give it your best shot.

snigdha said...

Thx Asha - yes, many such cases seen around. Sooner the wisdom dawns on us ,the better.
Hi Anon, thx for joining. Yes, u r absolutely right - parents do brainwash - may not always be for nefarious purposes , but certainly for the misplaced glamour that goes with these white coloured professions on the known and well-beaten tracks. Very rightly you have observed that it should be the dignity of labour that should be taught to young minds . I fully agree on that.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that one has to go to a top notch school or Ivy league school to become something in life. Not every kid is born to go to IIT or Stanford or Harvard.

I am not a product of a top notch school, but I am sorry to say that I do hold a professional high paying job. There are several others who I see come from general schools and are much better than the folks who claim to have come from IIT or any other top schools.

So it all boils down to who you are and what you want from life .....

snigdha said...

Hey there ! great to get that comment from someone who is not from a top notch inst and still a big professional success . But why are u " sorry to say " that ? Be proud, man/lady !! YES, there are many many such people who have excelled and have been excelling - notwithstanding their lack of good fortune to attend so-called " top notch" schools/institutes. In any case, how many public schools, IITs, IIMs, Management Institutes were there even 10 years back ?? Had professional success been contingent upon attending top notch schools, it is anybody's guess, what would have happened to our country/ this world. Obviously out of those who are professional successes today, a very very big chunk is not from the elite schools.
That's exactly where the pity lies , so far as today's schools and parents ( and a vast majority of children )are concerned. They are missing two vital truths : a.every child is inherently talented and the role of education is to facilitate her/him discover her/his own worth and life goals ; b. success is to be achieved not only in the standard of living, but in the quality of life lived , that calls for worthy goals in many more dimensions in human life , apart from material comforts n social status. The present day craze for top notch schools and elite professions only is sheer madness.

Going by my own experience, I can add one more thing - in so-called small,non-descript schools, usually you come across real " teachers" who help you learn all those vital lessons of timeless truth , which , perhaps, the professionally high-reputed school teachers just miss out in passing on to their disciples in their tight schedule to deliver examination success formulae to the students; obviously this breed feels accountable to the parents and the school authorities for ensuring passing of the exams by the students with flying colours.

To me,the (true)job of a " Teacher" is NOT TO TEACH , but to HELP YOU LEARN . So ... ? Yes, ultimately it boils down to who you are and how willing you are to learn to achieve what you want from life ... going to a top notch school MAY help you in that direction ; but not going there is CERTAINLY not going to hold you back ... if you think you are unstoppable !!!
Thx for sharing your thoughts . And I would appreciate if you disclose your site, if u have any, so that I can benefit from your posts there !

Varsha Vipins said...

Great Post Sningdha..So true n apt in today's world,when kids are so very much under pressure..

Anonymous said...

Hey Snigdha,
I am not a regular blogger nor do I maintain one. I just like to comment here and there.... whatever interests me.


snigdha said...

Thx Varsha for dropping by . I am truly happy to have found your blog too- amazing recipes! You know, I delight greatly in experimenting with newer n newer recipes and cooking, to me , is immensely creative ! My blog in fact started with an ode to cooking - inspired by Asha ( ).

Yeah, it is reassuring to know that youngsters like u who r just starting their life appreciate the critical life issues - like the one I dealt with in the present blogpost.We can look forward to wiser parents in people like u.

Deba said...

Great Post! The world is changing; India is changing; our society is changing; individuals are changing; thoughts are changing and perceptions are changing. Amidst such a changing scenario, importance has also been shifted from the “goal” to the “pathway towards the goal”. We can’t blame youngsters for not having clarity in respect of their goal because we all are responsible for that. We are differentiating by saying he is an IIT or IIM pass-out. We are pressing hard on our children by expecting them to get through the exams for being admitted into the best institutions. Though the ultimate goal remains the same, yet the young minds perceive getting a seat in one of the best institutions as their immediate goal. In that process, they lack having the clear-cut objectives being a future professional. As your post says, there are some young minds like that of the 19-year old. Such minds create HOPE and help balancing the imbalance created due to changing perception and thoughts. Hats off to their parents for nurturing them properly and educating them perfectly.


snigdha said...

Thx Deba . I know your child is very talented and full of energy and i am sure, one day you will be a proud parent for whatever she "becomes" following her own calling. Just help her out discover that gradually!

Rajeswari said...

I do agree with the fact the none should limit the goal of their entire life to "being an engineer",but in today's world where the majority of people are struggling to get three square meals a day,i do not dare to correct a child who says his goal is to be an engineer.If he finds success in earning bread as an engineer(not necessarily true for everyone these days!),lets encourage him.But that shouldnt mean there arent other ways to survive.Sadly,the number of those 'other' ways is dwindling day by day,and only the rare,lucky ones get success in survival by taking roads less travelled.With all respect,i sometimes wonder are we all really really lucky to have the means to be peacefully discussing such a thing,without having to wonder from where will i get 10 rupees with which i can feed my child a full meal atleast tonight.I totally agree with "Anonymous" about being proud of whatever job you have in hand.

snigdha said...

Hi, Rajeswari ! so u r back at US. Went through your thoughts on war - touched!
Yeah , I am all with what u have observed on this post. If a child wants to be something - engineer/doctor or whatever- be it so, she should be encouraged - but she should not be made to want that coz that is the well-beaten track. You have also brought in a new perspective by touching upon penury Vrs free career choices.

By the way, I am watching with interest how the discussion is taking shape - a little away from what I was trying to focus on. It was the importance of the young minds appreciating/seeing the difference between "what you do as a profession" and 'why you are there - or what you become in life'; the diff between a goal and a purpose and " becoming an engineer" is just an example to talk about the few white collar professions those are chased these days blindly( not at all meant to imply that they are not worth while - they are , by all measures; but there are other worthwhile things too, if one is interested. ) I did not intend to discuss on whether or not these 'life is made' kind of professions should be pursued or not. I simply wanted to share the bright ray of hope that I observed in the fact that youngsters in their late teens/ early 20s these days are becoming more aware and discerning and are actually displaying an ability to think for themselves! What we are witnessing today in the adult world or the so called matured professional world appears to be the rock-bottom that human kind as a whole can hit - from here , we can only go upward ( improve ) and I feel a strange sense of reassurance when I see even a few young people able to think for themselves.

Rajeswari said...

dear snigdha,
I sure do beleive there are youngsters who are interested in taking unnoticed career options.I was one of them.I wanted to be a language teacher or a journalist.I wanted to row my boat through a sea of letters and words! But sadly,i got enviable academic results in 10th and 12th which led me into the scariest entrance coaching institute in kerala.By scary,i mean literally i was too scared to be unprepared for the next class or next exam.If unprepared,i would have to be ready to hear abuses about my whole lineage.And my dad never took me out of that place even though i struggled immensely.He knew i would make it to the result he wanted.Well,i am proud enough to hold a degree with which i can humbly serve suffering people,but it came to me at a bitter cost.Atleast,those dreams were always special at the age of 15 or 16.Now i dont have any regrets,but i have come a long way.

Maybe more than the kids themselves,their parents should be made aware of the possibilities that exist in today's world.Atleast it would have worked in my case..

Thanks for reading my thoughts.I truly appreciate it.

snigdha said...

Yes Rajeswari, I can not agree more on that - it is the parents, more than the kids !