I’m back with a new discussion which is quite similar to my previous discussion – ‘why everyone is rushing towards becoming doctor & engineer’, but I’ll discuss it quite differently.

Well, recently, we had IIT Mains & I think it needs no introduction (if you’re in India!). Lakhs of students had appeared in the exam for getting to best engineering institutes in India. And in coming days or a month, we’ll have Medical entrances too & of course, IIT Advanced. So almost every 12th passed students are geared up for the coming entrances. You’ll also find among your relatives or friends appearing for these exams. But if you go & search, you’ll get a result that is quite shocking (at least, to me) – majority of the students are appearing for MEDICAL & ENGINEERING entrances, may be around 90% or more (as far as my guess goes).

But what is it that is most shocking? In a population (of India) of almost a billion (10,000,000,000), is it possible that almost every student wants to become an engineer or a doctor? Let’s try to give a possible answer to this question. But in order to be satisfied with the answer, you’ll need to think different like me, & of course, you’ll need to be a radical.

So what’s exactly happening? I’ll not start from the very beginning of childhood, but let’s talk about class 9th students. If you’ll go to any 9th classroom in almost every school in India & ask students what they want to choose for their career, 2 very common answers would pop out the highest – doctor & engineer. But if you’d have asked those 9th students the same question years ago, when they were in 1st grade, you’d have got something different in response. You’d have got a mixture; some would’ve said doctor, some painter, some engineer, or writer, or singer, or…cricketer & a lot different. You’ll also get different answers if you’ll ask a 9th student (the same question), but who don’t know anything about career, about what people are doing in the professional world. Why so? What does it happen within 8 years that students completely change their views? What does it happen that if you don’t know about careers & all these stuffs, you’ll give a different response? The only answer is – ‘the FLOW’. There’s a flow of everyone becoming doctor or engineer. (And if you’re confused with what ‘flow’ is, try to understand it like what happens to water in a river. No matter what, water always flows in the same direction & if there’s any rock or something to distract, it changes it way according to the curve of the distraction. The very same way, there’s a flow of everyone doing some common works (in this case, it’s the choice of engineering & medical) no matter what). If you’d say someone, you want to be a cricketer or an actor or a painter or a writer, he/she would see at you awkwardly feeling funny. But if you say you want to be a doctor or an engineer, no one would respond differently. Ok, but that definitely doesn’t mean everyone would do the same. But majority of people would feel quite awkward if you want to do something different. So we all are going with this flow & I think it’s turning into a culture.

In a class, students who score high are expected to be doctor or engineer. And you’d see of teachers or parents or someone else talking about being doctor or engineer. When it comes to career, engineering & medical are the most commonly heard words. Also those who are average in academics are assumed that they’ll not be able to make any good career & career means engineering or medical; so they can’t be doctors & engineers. You’ll also get people who’d advise you to be a doctor or engineer. And if you open a newspaper or any career related magazines or websites, you’d get of nothing other than engineering & medical (and of course, MBA programs). If you search for seats in any reputed institutes for undergrad programs, you’d get most of the seats for engineering & medical. If you search for any foundational courses (both in 9th & 11th level), you’d get nothing else than engineering & medical entrances foundation in such courses. When you’ll be in class 9th, everyone would tell you to study hard because this is the time of competition. But competition of what? Of getting selection in Olympic? Or of getting selection in a singing competition? No, but for the competition of getting selection in engineering or medical institutes. And if you ask a student why he/she is studying so hard, you’ll get the answer – to get into engineering or medical entrances. So your day starts with engineering & medical, & so will your night end with the same. Terrible! That’s called the ‘FLOW’. Everyone is doing the same, just like water flows in a river in the same direction. And the reason why students change their minds is because the atmosphere forces them to do so. During childhood students don’t understand about outside world & they’ve many possibilities & dreams. They want to do what they want to. But as time passes by things change terribly because they start to understand & try to be with the flow; because otherwise they’ll be rebel & no one wants to be rebel. And as far as I’ve experienced among my classmates, those who’re meant for other careers (and wanted to pursue their interests years ago) want to be in engineering & medical. And honestly speaking, these are not their personal decisions, but are solely affected by the ‘flow’. But is it worth going with the flow??

Before answering that, let’s imagine a situation where everyone would be doctors & engineers. What’ll happen then? Ok, before that let’s imagine another situation when there’s a cake & there’re 10 children? then 20? then 30? then 40? then 50? And so on & so forth… Who’ll be worst affected by the increasing number of children? The children themselves. So, similarly, when number of doctors & engineers increases, who’ll be the worst affected? Definitely, doctors & engineers themselves. And how will they be affected? There’ll be unimaginable competitions among them. And do you know who’ll be still most affected among them? Those who’ve passions for engineering & medical! And honestly speaking, this is exactly what is happening right now. Because everyone is applying for engineering & medical entrances, those students who are meant to be doctor & engineer by interest face more competitions & challenges. If only those who’re passionate about these fields apply, there’d not have been much problem clearing the entrances. And if you ask someone, who is affected by the ‘flow’, whether he/she’s really passionate of engineering or medical, he/she would tell you that he/she’s really passionate about them & is not affected by the flow. But truth is always different.

Moreover, those who’re doctors or engineers by flow are in fact economic waste to the country, because they never contribute to our economy. In fact, they pose threat to passionate doctors or engineers in the job market. And we’ve these people in large number. To some extent, engineers who’ve just got the degree (not by merit) are not that much of harmful. But doctors with such kind of degrees are definitely harmful because there’s no guarantee what will they do with their patients!! In conclusion, such academic qualifications are worthless. But still, we’re producing such doctors & engineers every year. Despite the popular movies like 3 idiots which are meant to give this very message, there’s been no impact on people. Still, we want to make our children doctors & engineers. No matter how these students get their degrees, we just need the titles of engineer & doctor behind their names. This flow is also affecting the quality of the population. We’ve people with different talents & interests. But every time, we’re producing doctors or engineers, we’re destroying many talents & thus ruining the quality of our population. If people of different interests pursue their respective interests, then, we’d get highly talent population. And those doctors & engineers who are changing the world are those who’ve pursued their true interests & are not affected by the flow. You really don’t need to do any tough job, you just need to follow your interests & that’s it.

What would’ve happened if Steve Jobs had become a singer, if Pablo Picasso had become a politician, if Sachin Tendulkar had become a scientist, if Lata Mangeskar had become a tennis player, if Vikram Sarabhai had become a writer, if Chetan Bhagat had become a painter, if Michael Jackson had become a pilot…& so on? Then, we’d not have got such game changers. And in fact, if you try to look into lives of some of them, like of Chetan Bhagat, you’d see that they’ve started their journey with different fields, but after they chose their interests, they rocked the world. And that’s what generally happens…if you’re in your field of interest, you rock the world. Moreover, we want revolutionary visionaries, those who are not bound by any flow. It’s better to be a radical when you know the flow is in the wrong direction.

We’ve faced the 21st century with many challenges. So in order to solve them & change the face & fate of the world, we need Wright Brothers, Maxwell, Steve Jobs, Vinci, Einstein…But in order to get them again in this century, we’ll need to create another flow in which everyone pursue their own interests. We need to initiate a movement. And we’d basically need to look back to our very system of education in order to solve this problem, after all education is the root of everything.

So is it really worth going with the flow? Definitely no. And this is not exactly an issue related to engineering & medical only, but an issue related to almost everything. We people, despite being most intelligent, don’t try to think independently. We do what others do without thinking of its impacts in large scale. Pursuing of engineering & medical by majority of students is just an example. There’re many more such problems that we’re facing. We just need to think a bit deeper & visualize ourselves from a bird’s eye view of what we’re doing.

Though we’re not able to notice any negative impact of being with the flow, it’s affecting the whole world negatively. And this’d be visible in coming decades. And by far, according to me, India is worst affected by this flow.

We need more creative & innovative people in the coming years as things are becoming more complex. But if this goes on, there’s no doubt, we’ll be in grave danger. The only solution is to rethink our mindset.

So ask yourself – Is it worth going with the flow? Probably you’d get a ‘NO’ if you’ve really understood what I’ve said above.

Copyright©2011-13 Sandeep Deva Misra