A viral video on Twitter with over 3,57,000 views has been doing the rounds on social media lately. Like everything else on social media, the comments this video has garnered are rather polarizing. A young student is seen addressing a class filled with fellow students and teachers. In the very telling video the young boy speaks about how the last time he watched television was when he was in Class 4.
Then, while he asserts that he wants to enroll for the computer science stream at the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), while blatantly admitting that he does not know much of the subject as yet.
The video then moves on to a one-on-one interview with the boy where he is asked what he wants to do once he completes his graduation. One can hear his father prodding him to say ‘management’. This is followed by his reply with 100 per cent conviction that he’d like to go to some foreign university to get an MBA degree.
While this video highlights the story of one student somewhere in India, it could well be the story of your neighbor or a friend at school. The pressure to be ‘successful’, by entering either engineering, the medical field or becoming a lawyer, is one that weighs very heavily on children.
In some households the pressure is very subtle, but in many others it is more pronounced.
Examples of children succumbing to this pressure and deciding on pursuing courses and careers they do not necessarily enjoy are rife in the media and entertainment. Farhan Qureshi, played by R Madhavan, in 3 Idiots (2009) is just one such example that came alive on celluloid.
Shows like Kota Factory force us to ask difficult questions of ourselves. Hemant Gaba, the national-award winning documentary filmmaker said, “A major motivation driving parents is the desire to see their child climb up the economic ladder. By sending their child to Kota, parents hope that it will result in admission into the IITs and eventually a couple of years later, a well-paying job. These parents feel that within one generation they can climb the economic ladder from lower middle class or middle class to upper middle class or higher. Of course, there is a desire to garner society’s respect in the process. As per my estimation, less than 5 per cent of student’s study in Kota out of any genuine love for science or engineering.”
The Flip Side
While we examine one side of the story, another Tweet on the same thread popped up. Kalpit Veerwal, a batch mate of the student in the video speaks about how we are all so quick to jump to conclusions.
From not knowing why he wanted to study computer science to acing the JEE and then allegedly getting a job in Samsung Korea, the unnamed boy in the video seems to be doing quite well now — so many years later.
“He is my batch mate at IIT Bombay, recently graduated and is placed in Samsung Korea. Very nice and humble person. He knows way more about computers than 99.99 per cent of graduates. Maybe stop judging people based on a video shot at the age of 17-18?” tweets Kalpit.
He is my batchmate at IIT Bombay, recently graduated and is placed in Samsung Korea. Very nice and humble person.
He knows way more about computers than 99.99% graduates.
Maybe stop judging people based on a video shot at the age of 17-18?
— Kalpit Veerwal (@kalpitveerwal) October 10, 2021
Rajesh Parikh, another Twitter user who had first posted this video reiterated that the idea of posting this was not to cast any aspersions on the student or his family but to question the education system that we all blindly follow.
In his Tweet, he says, “Whoa. This has blown up. I will again reiterate that this tweet merely summarizes what the video says. My personal feeling is that we have to fix this higher education system where not only IIT and NIT’S are respected. This tweet is not about the student and his parents.”
Whoa. This has blown up. I will again reiterate that this tweet merely summarizes what the video says. My personal feeling is that we have to fix this higher education system where not only IIT and NIT’S are respected. This tweet is not about the student and his parents.
— 𝙍𝘼𝙅𝙀𝙎𝙃 𝙋𝘼𝙍𝙄𝙆𝙃 (@imacuriosguy) October 10, 2021
While we have come a long way in accepting careers other than the conventional ones like engineering and medicine, we still have a long way to travel.
Whether the attention this video garnered is justified or not is debatable but one thing we know for sure is that every child is curious and clueless about their career paths. The least we can do is facilitate and kindle their curiosity. After all, the future is theirs to see, que sera sera.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)