We, the humans, are the most magnificent creation of God. Every superlative degree is awarded to us for our profound ability to exploit our neurons to the hilt. Our credibility though lies in our perception. We perceive every little thing around us with an outlook of utilizing it for the betterment of human race. Humans gradually evolved over time as Homo sapiens from the monkeys but the evolution of human race did not stop there. We evolved further as a cultured, civilized, and most importantly as a highly equipped social animal. We travelled from the cavemen days to the era of computers, on our own. An unseen higher force created our physical forms but we moulded ourselves solely based on our superior intellect. The more we grew; the obsession to grow further was fuelled as well. When growth became the ultimate motive, the competition wasn’t left far behind. From being just social animals, we metamorphosed into striving animals. We strived for luxury. We strived for comfort. We strived to be the best. More than anything else, we strived for money. Earning money became the lifelong and immortal obsession which in turn designed our career goals. Education no longer remained a source of quenching the intellectual thirst by gaining knowledge. It became the route to earn easy money and the obsession towards some specific subjects and profession was born.
I am a microbiologist by qualification, an educator by profession and writer by passion. The various intricacies of life, a nitty-gritty of human relations, preconceived notions prevailing in our society and my own personal battle within me to explore myself often force me to pen down my thoughts. Today morning, while sipping my first cup of tea, I opened the newspaper and my eyes were captivated by a big advertisement showcasing the accolades garnered by a recently opened engineering college. I gave it a passing glance and eyeballed all the other happenings of the world. However, my thoughts meandered back to the same advertisement. It was never the engineering college that riled my mind. It was the preconceived notion of our middle-class society which dragged me to unleash my thoughts over the unhealthy obsession towards a career in engineering. In a country like India, where the first light of dawn draws a new hope towards development, engineering certainly appears to be the most lucrative career. I have seen the societal attitude as a student and am witnessing the same as an educator as well. Medicine remains the most prestigious profession whereas engineering has gathered a rather notorious reputation of being the speediest route to money making.
Engineering was derived from Latin word ingenium meaning cleverness and ingeniare meaning to devise. I acknowledge the etymology and the underlying concept of being the driving force behind industrial revolution. However, my senses do not buttress the association of cleverness with engineering. A student, good at Mathematics, is declared clever but someone who wishes to live a life beyond algebra is called dumb. A student opting for anything outside Science and Maths is often categorised as dim-witted. Ludicrous, isn’t it? The advent of Science and Technology was truly a boon to the human world. It became a device to make human life more comfortable. Physical labour was reduced through the highly inventive contributions of some ‘intellectually superior’ humans. There existed an era when acquiring knowledge across different domains was given equal importance. Artists nurtured their respective art forms.
Economists controlled the economic growth of life. Agriculturalists took upon the responsibility of feeding the masses. Educationalists spread knowledge and technically efficient minds indulged themselves in designing a less strenuous life. There existed an apparent homeostasis in the world. However, a gradual evaporation of the equipoise occurred. Our society soon reached the conclusion that Science is the ultimate saviour as it provided the lap of luxury. Technology became the God in disguise. People jostled around to study Science, leaving behind a condescending remark towards every other field. Every parent wished to see their wards become an engineer. If the child was deemed weak at Maths, Biology was thrust upon him/her, considering it to be easier than Maths but equally lucrative. An obsession to study science took birth, not with a genuine zeal to innovate something better, but to garner a prestige symbol in the society. Parents couldn’t be blamed, as it was one of the many unwritten societal norms they followed. The burden of pursuing a career was thrust upon the students, irrespective of their wish or capability. Literature, paint brushes, dramatics, music and every other form of art were packed and hidden as they never appeared to be the proverbial goose that laid golden eggs. Like a trained horse cantering on a preset visual path, students too ran blindly on the track of Engineering.
The students on the path of engineering never foresaw the greatest paradox; demand and supply. Jean-Baptiste Say’s famous postulation, ‘SUPPLY CREATES ITS OWN DEMAND’, couldn’t hold water in the arena of educational business. Parents’ puerile demands distorted the whole crux of the concept of education. The supply of engineers soon outgrew the demand in the job market. The eyes of hopeful students, which perceived engineering to be the mystical path to brimming coffers, now watched the bitterest reality of unemployment. They say failure is the stepping stone towards the pillar of success. In today’s fast paced life, a single failure directs one to diversification, seeking success in something else. When engineering couldn’t yield the golden egg, a fancier MBA degree captivated everyone. The ‘zealots’ of engineering began advocating the significance of administrative proficiency. What next? Another obsession was born; the eternal desire to join the elite Management institutes. The hilarity lies within the process of career growth itself. First and foremost, a child is injected with the insatiable desire to study science and make a career out of it. Next, he/she struggles to make a name for themselves as an engineer. If lucky, a hefty bank balance is achieved through engineering itself, realizing his/her ultimate career goal. However, if the pocket doesn’t feel full, one starts eyeing on MBA.
Over the years, we the citizens of India have witnessed the explosion in the number of engineers, their gradual stagnation and also their steady decline. The same happened just a few years back with MBA holders. When the numbers of institutes were limited, the outcome was quality oriented. With the incessant growth of education as a worthwhile business, institutes have become dime a dozen but lack the academic quality. The statistics of placements from various institutes reflect how this recently bloomed obsession towards MBA is also on the path of steady decline. It’s high time we abandon our prejudiced thoughts over money making career options. Money is there to be earned in every field of choice. How much is required remains a slave to one’s wants. Whenever I receive ‘engineering followed by MBA’ as an answer for career objective, my mind often queries inwardly WHO WILL GROW THE ULTIMATE NECESSITY OF LIFE, FOOD? Being an educator, I do not intend to demean any profession but appeal instead to the younger generation to think beyond money making. With all due respect to every reader of this article, I feel the prevailing craze regarding our career choices can be attributed to three simple words; AN OBSESSION OVERLOADED.