Monday, January 12, 2009

What do you want to do in life?

Did anybody ever ask me that question, in a serious sense, when I was growing up as a kid? I believe many of Indian kids would be asking this question. What is it that really interests me? What is it that I want to do as an adult? Which field of work interests me? I believe amongst Indian parents, they make most of their kids career decisions. For heavens sake please start taking your kids decision making skills into confidence and talk thru them regarding what they want to do in life.

Back in India, every parent want their kids either to get into the family business, if they have one, or study engineering/medicine as it is a generally believed notion in Indian society that only these 2 professional degree's can provide a safe and secure future. Well, amongst families involved in movies it could be that they want their kids to be involved in the movie industry itself. This is one of the reasons as to why it is very difficult to get a break in the Indian film industry unless you have a filmi parent/uncle/aunt.

In India, because of its huge population competition is high, really high. Every year, after finishing their high-school millions of students take up the entrance exams conducted by prestigious Engineering and Medical colleges to fill a few 1000 seats. I am sure nearly half of them take the entrance exams, for these seats, out of compulsion by their parents. Excluding them, still it is a large number of students vying for a few number of seats. I was one among those half interested students who did go for every other entrance exam when I knew for sure that I would not even come any closer to the expectation of these colleges while my father and sister insisted on me taking these exams and also made me sit and prepare for these exams. How can someone put his heart and mind into something that really does not interest him? Agreed I was just an average student but the kind of expectation that was set on me was huge and impractical for me to achieve.

Me getting into ivy league colleges of India was never going to happen. I knew it from day one and every attempt by me to convey the same to my father and sister went into deaf ears. Infact, I was even told that I should not even apply to any of the arts and science colleges. It was projected as though that only Engineers and Doctors, that too studying only in prestigious colleges, can lead a decent life and the rest are left to beg for their lives. I would totally disagree to that.

I eventually ended up getting my Bachelor in Engneering from one of the local colleges (SRM Engineering College) which was definitely no where near to an ivy college standard like that of the IIT's (Indian Institute of Technology) or the REC's (Regional Engineering College). I am doing good today and able to lead a decent life and support my family. Did I really want to do engineering? That's another debate as I said earlier only 2 options were placed in front of me, engineering or medicine and I managed to get an engineering seat.

The sad part is that, today as I reflect back on what happened to me in the early 90's, more than 15 years later even today I see this trend amongst parents back in India though I would have to agree that at least a few parents have started listening to what their kids want to do with their lives.

The society back in India has to be blamed for this kind of preconceived notions that parents have for their kids. No parent wants to tell that their kid is a lawyer or a musician or a sportsperson or any of the other innumerable professions that can provide a decent lifestyle. Every parent wants to tell that their kid is either a engineer or a doctor. I am sure that every parent, without an iota of doubt, has the best of interests for their kids and they want their kids to have all the best that this planet has to offer. But still every individual has a life of his/her own that he/she wants to live. So for god's sake please listen to your kids and let them live their lives and you be a guiding force in case if they take a wrong decision.

Lastly, I am not asking parents not to play any part in deciding their kids life, of course they have all the right to do that after all they (parents) created them (kids), but listen to what the kid has to say, listen to his aspirations, his interests, his ambitions, his dreams and his thoughts and be a good guide using your life's experiences. Do not make them live your life. Let them live theirs.

Come what may, it is still a long way to go before Indian parents let their kids lead his/her life in his/her own terms rather than theirs (parents).



  1. Your suggestion is good, but this is a vast topic & there are few other aspects to be taken into account. A parent cannot take a chance with his child's future, if he is not 100% confident about the child's skill in his/her desired profession. For instance, if a kid wants to get into music he has to show that spark or inclination during the early stages. Likewise for dramatics / dance / painting / singing / sports etc. Pls remember that 'being interested' is one thing & 'being good' is another, when it comes to deciding your career.

  2. Perfectly true. That's why I say that parents have to be a guiding force and help kids take good decisions rather than taking decisions for them and forcing it on them. This is what is happening to most of the students who join those numerous engineering and medical colleges by paying money for education.

  3. Very true...Going a little deeper in your topic I want parents to introduce kids to a lot of things, like writing, poetry, music, dance and host of other things at an early stage when they are too immature to decide so that eventually the kid can identify itself the area in which he is very good as well as interested.


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