Many students have seen their peers or themselves face parental pressure about studying Science, we look at why the older generation has a bias for the Sciences and whether it is valid.

Many of us have come across phrases such as “Acche marks aaye 10th mai, Science lelo” (you got good marks in 10th, take Science), “Humanities wala hai, pakka padhayi nahi karta hoga” (they are from Humanities, they must not study), and so on. In Indian middle-class society, the classification of those who pursue humanities as intellectually inferior to those who are in Science is constant.

While Science is an essential part of human life, there are many fallacies one can point out in the Indian education system even in the Science stream, the hyper-competitive nature of it being the very obvious call out, with children being enrolled in coaching and preparing for entrance exams from a very early age. The other being how the learning administered in many colleges does not make graduates employable. A report by India Today in 2019 stated that out of 1.5 million engineering graduates every year, around 80% of them are unemployable. The basic reasoning which one can gather behind this preference for sciences is that people look at it as the safe option, one through which they can find a steady career and future. We have heard older generations say, “Hamare time pe options siraf doctor, engineer, aur lawyer thhey” (the only options we had were doctors, engineers, and lawyers). This mindset still plays a vital role when parents and their children decide which stream to pursue, with many parents still asking and/or forcing their children to take science.

Miley, a second-year student from Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), whose parents told her to take science said, “My parents felt the only reason to not take Science as if you were not smart enough and it’s supposed to be a trophy for them. They cared little if I pursued a career in Science, I just wanted everyone to know that I was “smart enough” if I wanted to. I ended up doing Honors in English from one of the best colleges and yet all they think I do is a B.A.” Shivam, a student preparing for his JEE Mains said, “My parents always wanted me to take Science, and it’s something which I have always wanted too, so I would not say it was forced. Yes, preparing for competitive exams takes a lot of time and dedication but it’s time I am willing to put in to secure my future.” Now while Shivam and many like him strive to break into the topmost colleges in their streams, the stereotype of humanities kids being their opposites falls flat. To get into Delhi University (DU) and many other universities, students have to compete against extremely high cut-offs and unpredictable board examinations. The This obsession of Indians with science leaves one with the following conclusion, just because something is followed by the majority, does not mean it’s in everyone’s best interest. There’s no Mantra that can guarantee you success, but doing something out of pressure for the sake of approval definitely won’t help. And this kind of obsession is certainly unhealthy and will become problematic in the long run, given the current economic conditions of our country. It’s high time that we introspect our basis of decision-making, because even if this obsession with science helps someone achieve success, it doesn’t guarantee happiness that was lost along the way. idea of Humanities being for those who slack off or are not willing to work as much as other streams immediately takes a hit. In the end, one can see that the stream does not decide a person’s employability or worth, and the larger problem itself lies with the education system in India. A system which places rote learning and education without questioning as its foremost agenda, a system in which arguably the very idea of knowledge is lost in the quest to gain that extra percentage points or a higher rank than others, a system which prefers pitting students against each other and propagating ideas of intellectual superiority on the basis of streams rather than allowing students to learn from each other.

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Prabhanu Kumar Das

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Often parents end up dictating our present in attempts to create a safe future, making us question what choice should you, as a child, make then?

Board exams are not just an examination for the students but also for their parents. Children and parents both feel the stress and anxiety. After crossing that phase, you realise how hyped these exams were but how real they felt when writing them. I remember looking back how my mother had become my one true support system and my dad took responsibility to get me whatever it was that I needed. This is how invested parents get at such a stage in our lives.

Education is important and a backbone of our futures. The strong emotions felt by our parents over this can often translate into over-protectiveness where they begin to dictate certain aspects of our course or subjects. I have heard of several instances of parents asking their children to leave Humanities for Science, to compromise on their course for a better college, to follow the mainstream than to do something risky.

Image credits: Times of India
Image credits: Times of India

The last part of that sentence becomes important, on speaking to my mother about the same she said, “Parents speak from their experiences. We are comfortable with what we know, unchartered waters arise fear and we begin to hold on too hard to our loved ones.” While times have changed parents often speak from an outdated perspective, where Engineering, MBBS or MBAs were seen as better courses by the society and created more successful individuals. There were ideas of a ‘set’ life and we can sense our folks often trying to mould us into it. Bournvita, in its initiative #lookbeyondmarks, touches upon this idea how not everyone fits in the same large sized, black t-shirt, yet parents attach the same expectations from every child.

On telling my friends or cousins how I’m pursuing an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology, did I realise how lucky I was, to be able to study a subject of my choice. While my grandfather’s reaction was, “Beta, koi professional course lele. Haye, Law kyu nahi karti?” (why not study a professional course, such as Law), endless number of people have mentioned how they were not allowed to study subjects like Psychology, Bachelor of Management Studies, International Relations, or at a younger level Arts, because of their parents.

Image credits: Scoop Whoop
Image credits: Scoop Whoop

Prakhar Rathi, a student of Computer Science comments, “While ideas like ‘go pursue your passion’ sound great, my decision of which course to study was not just mine but an amalgamation of what I liked, what my parents liked, what was expected out of me and the pressure of not disappointing them. All this led to me selecting a course I somewhat liked but mainly checked all the boxes.”

Newer courses have now come up, with the aim to allow students to study what inspires them, subjects like BMS, Anthropology, Forensic Sciences, Ecopsychology and many more that can cater to such unique interests. But for some parents this desire often leads to them guiding their children down a path which they feel is best or which allows them to live their dreams through their children.

But making this a more realistic perspective, while the horizon of opportunities has broadened, and specialised courses are on a rise, not every course guarantees a job with a big package and a good life. This is where a parent’s perspective stems from. But the debate is about who defines what a “good life” is. A typical Indian parent’s response will be that these ideas only exist in films. But what is the value of that degree when it feels like suffocating, what is the value of the job it gives when you are only going to hate it or leave it, what is the value of those years when you will only regret them.

However, there can be a flip side to this where the outcomes might not be as harsh as they seem in those moments. Deepen Gondolay, a student of B.Com remarks, “It started out when I wanted to take Humanities and they made me take Commerce. Later, when I wanted to pursue BBA, I was pushed into staying here and doing B.Com, even when it wasn’t an ideal course. I don’t regret it too much because what I want to pursue as a career aligns with commerce itself.”

Not everyone meets the same fate, some slave studying subjects they do not have the aptitude or interest for. Not all of us have the liberty to negotiate and to those I can only say we cannot predict or control how our future will turnout, even after an IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad one could turn out to be a writer, while what kind of a writer is debateable. Either way life resulting in happiness will not indicate how parents are always right and unhappiness will only lead to resentment.

It is a tug of war between generations, opinions and risks between your parents’ choice and your choice.

Image credits: Rediffmail

Shivani Dadhwal

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The feeling of love is immediate. It cannot be forced. But even this feeling becomes a choice. A choice to act upon.

In ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows’, Dumbledore told Harry, “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.” The emotion, and the attached exclusivity and essentiality of love is not entirely unjustified. A powerful emotion, that balances in a spectrum of joy and heartbreak, love is an exquisite feeling. And in turbulent times like ours, this feeling is a welcome respite. But despite the power of love, is it justified when it crosses the limits? Is it justified when it becomes uncomfortable for the object of one’s affection? Everyone feels the emotion of love, in fact, everyone wants to feel it so. In this conflict, could we claim that love is an active choice?

The initial response to a good experience is that of being in awe of it. We come to appreciate and elevate the experience or the person. Sometimes, this awe or appreciation solidifies into a strong connect. Love, then, is a very natural ‘process’. It is instant and gradual, at once. The realisation takes time. But once registered, the follow-up action in the process is to act on the instinctive emotion. The question then becomes: “How do I seek the validation for my emotional soaring?” or “Will I find a reciprocal of my emotions in the object of my affection?” Falling in love is not the difficult part. It is a great fall. And like every fall, what matters is really the resilience to carry on, to rise up and seek. Or to act on the love felt.

“Essentially, seeing as how we seek a reciprocative response to our emotions, and also that our generation is in a fix about the idea of commitment, love is really a choice,” says Apoorva Singh, a third-year student at Hindu College. She adds, “It is a choice because over time, it becomes a practice of your own volition. Your emotional responses can change, for one. And so, as the time goes by, love becomes increasingly a choice.”

Truly, in its initial or even in its later stages, love becomes a choicely celebration. If you do not feel the urge to act on an amorous feeling, you can always sideline the same, hoping that it will ‘pass on’. Simply because love cannot be enforced, nor imposed on the other. It is an inherent feeling. But the subsequent acting on it, is a perfect model that works out and calls upon our awake consciousness. So love becomes an active choice, doesn’t it?

Feature Image Credits: NBC News

Kartik Chauhan

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