Monday, July 24, 2006

Indian Youth!

Our course in behavioral sciences has a section on the Indian Youth! A class discussion was to follow a survey about the general mentality of the people out here. Some people volunteered to conduct a survey and anchor the discussion which was held today in class!

What was interesting about the entire exercise was that inspite of the overt differences, it turns out that we’re all in the same boat! Much as we feel lonely in this quest of seeking our own identity and identifying our desires and goals, just about everyone is on a similar voyage of his own. Just about everyone is confused about his value systems, about what he really wants to do in life, about where to draw a line when talking of ethics.. just about everything and just about everyone!

And what makes it all the more fascinating is that we’re actually being made to ask ourselves such questions, thanks to our first term course in behavioral sciences and more importantly, thanks to our professor who’s taking a keen interest in making us see sense in what we’re trying to pursue and whether we are making our choices by ourselves or are we allowing life to happen to us.

Yes, we as sons and daughters often get into becoming the agents to fulfilling the unfinished dreams and agendas of our parents. And in this process, at times, we end up forgetting what we really wanted to do. A lot of us complain about our parental pressure and expectations regarding our career and that they’ve pushed us into doing things that we probably didn’t really want to do ourselves. The tales of some cousin who’s doing well after going to an IIT and an IIM, which was possibly intended to inspire us, but ended up creating a latent sense of resentment within us! And we gave in to the alleged pressure and took a direction shown by our parents.

But then hey, to what extents are we going to keep on blaming our parents or someone else for whatever’s happening to us!

An interesting perspective that was shown today, suggested that we look within and ask ourselves if we’re playing the blame game by putting it onto our parents that they don’t let us take initiatives while we’re too scared of doing any experimenting ourselves. Well.. parents have had their share of control on our lives but has it always been so restrictive that we and our desires were necessarily suppressed? Or do we happily wallow in self pity by dumping the cause of all our unfulfilled desires on to our parents, or more generally to the society/system/people around us?

Someone said that a genuine want comes out of an earlier feeling of deprivation and most people here haven’t faced much of deprivation at least in the economic sense of it and hence, we do not feel very strongly about anything as such. Yeah, maybe the constraints on the previous generation were different and maybe they spent a major portion of their lives to ensure a financially secure future and to ensure us the basic comforts of life. However, the horizon has indeed broadened for us and having an economic security has essentially brought us in a position of looking beyond money.. and that’s probably why we have the time and the energy for asking the questions about what we’re seeking out of life!

Is there a fundamental issue with the circumstances? In the setting of a realtively small city(given my humble origins), if someone says that he’s studying psychology at DU.. (even at the best college) or if he’s studying engineering at IIT Bombay - you might need to think if they be taken differently or in the same manner. But for me, in spite of all my respect for the teaching quality at the DU and other good colleges, I’m going to have to admit that it will not be the same! It doesn’t need too much of thinking then to see that this is where the problem of lack of choices with academics starts. We simply do not hold other streams of education on the same pedestal that we’ve placed engineering and a subsequent management course.

Probably this is what someone meant when they talked about the cheap philosophy of demand and supply that seems to be governing education in India. The best paid jobs come to these people and so the expected economic benefit after an engineering has more than its share of influence on the decisions of young people when they’re choosing their careers. To an extent, the previous generation had faced crises with their financials and subsequently, their need for a financially secure future has rubbed on to us as well! They expect us to do what they think is in our best interests, and you really can’t blame them if their choices are guided by the potential finacial security that a career path is providing.

And there’s nothing wrong with pursuing money either, the question only is that are we doing it out of our conscious choice or are we being made to do it for someone else! What is the cost? The stakes are still considered very high when someone is to leave a cushy job to become an entrepreneur! It’s mighty difficult to leave something in hand for something that’s not even concrete yet. And we start of talking about the opportunity costs that make any such decision virtually impossible to make. There are people who have defied this rule but somehow, in our culture, the value of pursuing your own dreams and the possible subsequent satisfaction has never been monetized and hence the odds are always stacked against your pursuit of your passion because it might not be considered economically viable!

We don’t need to see anything wrong with our inherent desire to want more of everything, including material wealth on the one side and the relationships/satisfaction and other intangibles on the other side. The problem only arises because we only have 24 hours in a day and only one life to live! Its this allocation of the scarcest resource called the moments of our life that require us to study the trade offs and choices that we’re making.

After all, everyone of us finally wants to look back from the deathbed and see a life well lived!

Yes.. it takes courage… you need to ask yourself the difficult questions about whether you’re allowing yourself to go with the flow and not against it because you simply want to have the easy way in life.. and in this process you also find reasons and excuses to justify it to the world.. and often to yourself.. that it’s your circumstances in terms of parents or society or whatever that are requiring you to behave in a particular manner and you can’t seem to be able to break the mould and do what you really want!

The question still boils down to asking ourselves if we know what we really want in life! If you’re clear on that, and the desire is strong enough.. nothing is capable of holding you back..!’s upto you!

More Later!

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