“Kabil bano, kamyabi apne aap piche aayegi” is the new-age mantra that the much-acclaimed ‘3 Idiots’ has successfully engraved among the hearts of the young. However, the number of ‘Chaturs’ is also not less in the world’s second most populated country where bread and butter are still the order of the day and a 2000-square feet bungalow is still a distant dream. No wonder thus, that towards the end, many would have chuckled in their hearts on Chatur’s success who also didn’t end up so badly in the story. Though, we shall not waste our time in discussing their fates. There are more pressing concerns in a nation dubbed as a developing country by the First World.
At first sight, the mantra makes a lot of sense. And it should. It indeed is the right way of pursuing a goal in life. It actually helps in seeing the soul of education, which is beyond degrees, jobs and financial successes. And I am the first person to advocate pursuing one’s own passion. That’s precisely what I did.
I was a commerce student who had topped her class in 12th Board exams. My principal and my class teacher had asked me to pursue CA or CS- the then obvious choice for a Commerce Topper. But my heart lied in writing and communication. Thus, after graduation, I majored in Mass Communications. Ironically, except me, every student of our class had enrolled for either CA or CS exams that very year and most of them had backslidden days before the exam date. This fact is practically responsible for the respect I eventually earned from all my school friends who lauded me for sticking to my goal.
Fortunately, things were still simpler those days. Not any more. Most of the people from my parents’ generation tell us that we have a better array of choices. Earlier, there was engineering and medicine. Today, there is CA, CS, Bank PO, MBA, MCA, Fashion Design, Interior Design, Animation, Aviation, Aeronauticals and so on. And this very fact makes it all the more complicated.
Many of the students who I teach, pursue MBA simply because the whole world is doing it. Still others have kept their options open. That is, if they couldn’t make it big in CAT, they will take up a Bank PO exam. The question as to what exactly they want to do in life, hardly ever crosses their minds. The only mantra that drives most of them is – Try everything and multiply options. One of them might work.
And that is what takes me to the assumption that the flick ‘3 Idiots’ has taken. It propagates the importance of pursuing one’s passion. The question is- Do we really have a passion to pursue?
In a country of Middle and Lower classes who have been falsely lured by the dreams of big cities, most children grow up either with comforts or yearning for comforts. While the weaker classes struggle to earn their living and dream of making it big in cities, the middle class kids know the importance of money to have a decent living. What is unfortunate is that they do not want only money but ‘urban money’. Sons of farmers rarely dream of learning Agriculture Management but pursue futile passions of driving cars in big cities, which they think can be earned easily through a white-collar job. Sons of Middle Class families in cities, on the other hand, want to match their standards with the rich class. They are determined to give their sons a Camrie or Mercedes unlike their fathers who took them to school in Maruti 800.
There’s another very unfortunate side of the story especially for those who think opening of newer avenues alone is a promising picture. A Fashion Design student takes up this field simply because he couldn’t clear PET, CA or MBA-entrance. During his struggle for a career, he happens to meet a celebrity Fashion Designer in Mumbai and gets determined to have that kind of lifestyle. He is not passionate about designing clothes but he is passionate about the luxury of the career.
A job portal ad shouts-“Caught in a wrong job?” Unfortunately, by the time most young people realize it, they have already spent half their lives in a job they never knew they didn’t want to do. One of my very good friends in school had only one ambition in life- to become a millionaire. He did MCA, started his career with TCS, lived in the US for two years serving Accenture and now works as a head of department in an Indian company in Pune. Recently, he confided, “I am bored with the same old stuff. But there’s no way out as I don’t know anything else.”
This and many such cases have convinced me to conclude that in India even having passions or dreams is a luxury. Parents lack enough faith in their children to let them follow their hearts. Most children know of only one passion in life- financial stability with material possessions. Most of us pursue success because we don’t have a choice. We don’t have a passion.
We just want to be somebody else. We want to be Indira Nooi or Kiran Shaw Majumdaar or Mukesh Ambani. Nobody wants to be himself. Nobody wants to discover his own passion. And so despite success and financial stability, we feel our lives are a mechanical treadmill that begins at 8 am in an office cabin and ends in a crowded shopping mall on weekend.
One of my friends said quite aptly when I asked him ‘How’s life?’. He said, “I live my life on a weekend. The rest is a write-off.”