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Career vs Course


In India, most students do not think of a career.  They only think of a ‘course’ they want to do. 
That course is always dependant on the ‘status’ of the course within the education system and ‘status’ of the job it leads to.  Not a career – job. 

Indian students take up courses based on the overall ‘marks’ or percentage they get in their 12th year of education.  They do not consider how much they like a subject or what they are good at.  Consideration of career and life are based solely on ‘results’ and marks – certainly not on their aptitude, attitude or affinity for a profession. 

If the student is clever enough to get percentage is in the high bracket – 100-80% – they are eligible to apply to become a doctor.  This is the dream ticket for most students in India.
If they are lucky enough to get 80-70%, they can apply for engineering or accounts.
If they scrape past 60%, a degree in law is seen as a worthwhile pursuit.
Bad luck for those who get less than 60%.  They might aswell console themselves with BCom or BA degree and dream of ‘raising a doctor’ in due course.

Most students, if they can’t become a doctor, will try to get in to a course for dentistry or ophthalmology.  At least this way they still carry the title of a doctor.  If this is not possible, degree as a pharmacist is considered the next best thing.  Afterall, every doctor needs an apothecary!  Though below par and without the coveted title of a ‘doctor’, Physiotherapy is now seen as a respectable profession that is close to doctoring.

At no time is the student in India asked – what do YOU want to do with your life?  That question is held in abeyance till the results are announced for the 12th exam.  No career options or guidance is offered till the all elusive ‘marks’ are obtained.  Once the marks are out, the student is guided solely by the quality (or quantity) of the marks and certainly not by any consideration for their aspirations.   

Those who enter the world journalism, agriculture, human resources, sociology, arts, languages, tourism or even teaching are regarded as the lowest of the low.  They are pitied for having got below average percentages – why else would you study such subjects?  There is no concept of people actually aspiring to study journalism or wanting to become an archeologist.  To an Indian mind, only the least able or the rich eccentrics would ‘chose’ such subjects!!  Teaching is a worthy profession, but once again, because of its low pay, no one would ‘chose’ to do it unless they were no good for anything else. 

For women the rules are a little relaxed.  For them, travel, journalism etc are eminently worthy goals.  Afterall, they can always take a career break easily from such soft jobs.  Teaching is the ideal role, as being with children is suits them the best.  If they get enough marks to study for MMBS, they must be extremely clever!  Clever than all the boys!  Indeed, only a doctor can marry a female doctor, no one else would be a match for her.  (Indians think about marriage before they think about anything else).  Women are expected give up their careers after child birth.  Even exceptionally successful women like actresses are expected to take a career break after marriage or after childbirth for sure.  Once they have children, they are no longer cast in the lead roles and are expected to play second fiddle to new ‘leading actresses’. 

Entertainment industry is a new emerging aspiration for some Indian youth.  Till a couple of generations ago, entering the world of acting, singing, dancing etc was considered to be of ill repute.  No one from ‘respectable’ families would ever want their children to be part of ‘that world’.  With the rising fame and fortune of mega super stars in the cinema and now daily soap operas on TV, acting is seen as a worthwhile profession, provided you are ‘famous’.  Otherwise, it’s best to continue to study to be a doctor. 

Fashion is fine as long as the girls design nice dresses to wear.  Nothing too risky or risqué please!  Being a model is still seen as a risky business.  Who will marry you? Is the first question the family ask.  Most girls take ‘fashion designing’ course just to say they did something between school and marriage.  It is a time filler and certainly not considered as a serious career move by most. 

Career in sports is still seen as a waste of time.  Indians love to play cricket and hockey but we hardly produce world class players in any other field of sports.  Despite having over 20% of world’s population, we hardly bag a handful of medals in any world sports forum.  Despite having sea on three sides and a vast mountain range on the north, we hardly have any swimmers, yachters, surfers, climbers of any note.  We have so few facilities, that even the most talented can’t get the coaching or training they need.  Our sportsmen do not get sufficient remuneration to remain loyal to their profession and most have to work at a ‘regular job’ to afford their ‘interest’ in sports.  As a result, we produce talented amateurs rather than consummate professionals like other countries.  Only physiotherapy is seen as a career worth pursuing alongside sports.  Afterall, it is considered to be ‘partly related’ to doctoring.      

As a result, India is full of ‘would be / should be’ doctors, who feel their lives have been ruined before they even started.  People are frustrated because they feel if only they had tried harder and got the requisite grades, they would not have to suffer working as a clerk or building dams or programming computers.  All these are worthy jobs, but they are not as good as being a doctor! 

Such frustration leads to people being disappointed with themselves and with everyone around them.  We are well known the world over for doctors, accountants and IT programmers, but not much else.  Despite having one of the most intelligent and literate population, India produces disappointingly small number of successful men and women in any other job roles.  This is a colossal waste of our youth’s potential.  They are made to feel like failures before they even start their working lives.  Indian mindset needs to change and Indians need to expand their horizons to embrace the opportunities offered by the 21st


Hierarchy (like the caste) of the Indian Education System


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