Alright, let me make it clear right off the bat. I am an engineering student from a college affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.
In no way, do I mean to disrespect engineering, its aspirants or the grueling process they go through to achieve their dream. This is just my take on what I believe to be a very deceptive and fraudulent system.
Engineering is like a South Delhi girl, where everybody wants it and not many can handle it. The allure for engineering courses in India is not unheard of.
The glitzy lifestyles of successful Indian engineers who made it big, the huge amount of money that the recruiters doled out to them like they are dancers in a Bombay dance bar, the huge advertisements in the papers by the likes of VMC and FIITJEE, all serve to increase the already grandiose allure of engineering.
There also lies a deeper fundamental reason for this “allure of engineering”. Just like Dev Anand’s default mode is vibrate, every Indian’s default mode is the quest to fulfill the need of roti, kapda and makaan.
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This points towards an implicit need for stability, a need for a job that will support you from the time you graduate till the time you retire.
And sure this must have been the case earlier, but it is no longer so. An astounding number of fields have emerged, all able to fulfill the aforementioned criteria.
But alas, we Indians have a habit of sticking with the past, we find change hard.
The previously established practice of training your kid to be an engineer has been so deeply ingrained, it is almost a ritual. But just like shitty Indian rituals such as Sati, it needs to die.
Because let’s face it, not everyone is built for engineering. It is an academically demanding subject. It requires strong analytical and mathematical skills with a strong memory and a predisposition towards hard, gruesome working hours to ace your concepts.
Not only is the actual engineering course hard, it’s entrance is another story in itself. Due to the classic Indian tendency to overcompensate (ahem ahem), parents in the subcontinent start training their kids for these entrances as early as class 7. CLASS 7! Some kids don’t even hit puberty at that age!
The purpose of these entrances was to find those people who had the ‘aptitude’ for engineering. To find the people who had the necessary skills to excel in engineering. To find people who could be quality engineers.
But unfortunately, the residents of the subcontinent found a “jugaad”, as we always do.
We erased the essential purpose of these entrances from our mind and morphed it to the point where those who could “mug up” the maximum formulas and spend their formative years solving heaps of questions that don’t even test the prerequisite skills for engineering, these were the kind of people who qualified.
And herein lies the problem, this culture which has developed where meritocracy is subject to unreal standards. Where only one brand of meritocracy is considered supreme and all others are considered inferior.
Here, social status and respect is derived from the metric of how regular/stable your job is and here lies elitism, even in something as elusive (as a resource) as education. This is the kind of culture which stifles innovation and forces people to adhere to unreal standards of meritocracy.
We live in a culture where exploration is halted and discouraged and where the right way is the way which everyone follows (Paradoxical, isn’t it?).
This is the reason why we have a Pichai and not a Picasso and a Nadella instead of a Nietzsche.
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