(Although I had written this blog entry for the Contemporary Pedagogy Course in Spring 2012, based on the discussion that we had in the last class, I feel that it is relevant for this course as well.)
Indian students are generally forced to choose between one of the two fields – engineering or medical. “3 Idiots” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1187043/) is an Indian movie which has depicted this fact beautifully. One of the dialogues in that movie goes like this – “My father wants to know the sex of the unborn child as he wants to know whether there will be an engineer in the house or a doctor. If it’s a boy, he will be an engineer and if it’s a girl, she will be a doctor”. Although it might sound funny to people who are not used to statements like these, believe me, when I say that it’s one of the most commonly-held sentiments in an average Indian family.
The general view of the masses is that only an engineer/doctor can bring prosperity to the house. People (especially boys) who want to pursue a life in arts/humanities are typically termed “losers” and in order to succeed, they not only have to compete against their peers but the society (social stigma) as well. Considering the fact that India is the second most populous country in the world, one does not need the brains of an Einstein to figure out the immense cut-throat competition that a child has to go through to survive the first twenty years of his/her conscious existence.
However, there is a positive side to this as well. The individual who comes out of this highly pressurized system is ready to face any challenge that is thrown at him/her. Irrespective of the stream that he/she has followed, once he/she emerges successfully out of this “system”, he/she becomes an asset to the company/firm that he/she joins. He/She can hold his/her own against the toughest of opponents and the hardest of situations. It would not be wrong to say that he/she is the “coal” that has metamorphosed under immense pressure and strain to become what the world cherishes – a “diamond”. Thus, although this kind of an “education” system might be unbalanced and painful for those in it, in the long run, it does benefit the individual, in particular and the society at large.