The great Indian stereotype in the west is that of a total nerd. Popular television shows such as the “Big Bang Theory” add fire to the fuel. With the second largest population in the world, India boasts of an increasingly high number of “braniacs” or people with above average IQ levels or academic and professional achievements. While accomplishments are wonderful, the increasing global shift towards the EQ or the emotional quotient is rendering the great Indian achiever at a position of loss.
From a very tender age, Indian parents throw their kids into the pool of competition. It starts from admissions in the best pre-schools. A three year old is pushed to learn the alphabets and recite a poem or two which makes absolutely zero sense to the toddler, to get him/her ready to face the first interview of his/her life. Neither does the child understand the meaning of the poem and nor is the significance of an interview clear in the young mind. Little does the child know that the tag of the institute defines a person for the entire life!
The same competition gets intensified for school admissions. After getting into the most prestigious ones, the pressure to perform becomes a heavy burden. The stories of suicides due to the sweepingly high pressure of performing extraordinarily well in the board examinations and competitive examinations are infamous. Students and their parents would kill for getting a place in the top-notch colleges. This gives rise to the mal practices of cheating and bribing in myriad creative ways to procure a seat in a dream college and even the crème-de-la-crème institutes such as AIIMS and IITs aren’t alien to this phenomenon. Add to it the appalling reservation system based on caste instead of financial background of the candidate, and we have the perfect recipe for burdening the youth with pressure to outperform which leads to a distorted sense of competition where it makes sense to indulge in immoral practices to get ahead in life.
The examination of the factors responsible for this cut-throat competition reveals that unfortunately, the biggest challenge in our country is the fight with the providence on a daily basis for the basic needs. In a country where manpower is more and the currency is low, the foreign investors employ more people for far less wages than they give to their employees in the west. This sparked the trend of settling abroad amongst Indians and the easiest methods for getting a comfortable job in the west are either a degree from the top institutes or extremely good academic record or loads of money or all of these. As the population is very high, this sets off a rat race. Parents push their children into being the best; everything else can follow.
The competition in India takes an ugly turn when it turns innocent people into criminals. High level of corruption ensures that the “bookies” or the “agents” or the people who pre-book the seats in return for huge amounts of money are never brought to justice. Parents are responsible in a big way for this. In order to give their children the best education they invest their life savings into bagging them a spot in the best institutes. Its essential to understand that everyone has an aptitude, a special skill which when developed yields great results. Ignoring a child’s natural talent and tailoring them so as to fit in the rat race is not the way to go. As a wise person has observed, “If there is a light in your heart, then no matter how feeble it is let it burn at its best, for the world might need just that amount of light.”