Kerala is a strange place. rather, it’s truer to say that keralites are strange people. they carry certain mulish ideas thru their lives, and to whichever part of the universe they relocate themselves to. one such notion is : if you offspring is not a doctor or an engineer, you are a failure in life. thus it is that we have this hilarious scramble for medical and engineering seats. the other day, a friend told me her relative paid 25lakhs as donation to secure a medical seat somewhere in tamilnadu for his son who did not want to become a doctor!
I am a humanities person and an acqaintance of mine once had the temerity to ask me of what use my education is of to humankind? needless to say he is an engineer whose monthly salary is more than all the money I have ever earned, or will ever earn, even if I live for another hundred years.
with infinite patience, I used, initially to explain to those who posed similar queries that it takes more than docs and engineers to run this world. tried telling them life is not about science and technology alone – it also about philosophy and history and economics and commerce and logic and art, all of which which bring you closer to life and makes you understand this business of living. I couldn’t then quite guage the expressions on their faces when I uttered such sentiments. older and wiser, I have now learned the art of decoding human facial expressions. In retrospect, those faces which suffered me when I lectured on the relevance of a holistic approach to life mirrored their pitying attitude to a sour grape blabbering of a ‘woman’.
coming back to my acquaintance who questioned the utility of my existence, I now realize the crux of his attitude. be a doc or engineer and you can mint money. not that I don’t like money. I love it. but I am not prepared to bulldoze my children, or anyone for that matter, to become docs and engineers just because there is a mountain of currency waiting at the end of the road. nor am I willing to sacrifice everything I care for - like job satisfaction for one thing - for a huge bank balance. My take is this: if a person wants to become a medical practioioner, it is a great thing – if he has the competence, compassion and the dedication for this noble profession. if a person wants to be an engineer, it is a great thing, with the gigantic technological leap that the is happening now. but if a person doesn’t want to be either, please please leave her or him alone to explore and experience other areas. this big world is a land of opportunities, also for people other than docs and engineers.
I would like to tell all the fathers and mothers of kerala not o be heartbroken if your son/daughter does not manage to get a seat in a ‘professional’ college, or does not want to go to one. there are a huge number of people in this world eking out very decent living without an engineering or medical degree.