Maths, Science and Choices After Graduation — Personal Experience

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The article ‘Maths, Science and Choices After Graduation’ was originally written in June 2010

It was not easy for me to go back to my home after completing graduation. I had always been waiting for this day when I shall finish my college and start pursuing my career goals. More or less, engineering had been a hindrance in my path although it has given me a lot in the last four years – friends, an engineering degree and a motivation to choose what I really want to do. But the end is not so cool – I am left alone and confused.

Rawatbhata is a small town on the banks of the river Chambal. Rawatbhata proudly boasts of its six nuclear reactors. When I was a child, I used to hear people referring to Rawatbhata as mini-India.  A community of educated people from all over India must be grateful for the facilities provided by the Central Government. Good education, good medical facilities and a small peaceful town in the middle of the Aravali range of mountains. Outside the colony, the education, medical and hygienic conditions are deplorable, thanks to the corruption from the grassroots to the centre. Really, we are glad to live in the colony.

The Flawed Beginning

But every good place has a dark side too. From the beginning, children here are sent for tuitions in mathematics and science because of the cut-throat competition and the negligence of school teachers. Sometimes, teachers themselves force students to join their tuition or the students have to pay with their marks. Unfortunately, parents are equally responsible for the situation. They want their child to score the highest marks. The schools here burden students with excess homework, assignments and tests. My cousin told me that the extra-curricular activities which develop the overall personality of a child and rarely encouraged.

I was also once a student in a school in Rawatbhata. I also faced the same competition and the same parental pressure. The lack of knowledge of the real world would make any child dreamless. I am fortunate to become a dreamer, thanks to Discovery and National Geographic Channel. I learned about Antarctica, Galapagos Islands, marriage rituals of Arabs and the blinding lights of New York and Las Vegas. I was not unaware of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the poverty in Sierra Leone. I wanted to witness the latest technology they used to show in The Human Edge and Tomorrow’s World. I was more than amazed – concerned for the greenery of the Amazons and the silence of the Sahara desert. I learned to dream.

Later I also became a part of the competition. I loved to study biology and I scored ninety-two percent in social science. But I took mathematics – I had to crack IIT-JEE even though I was average at mathematics. I went for a yearlong coaching after completing my school education to Kota – the city from where the highest numbers of students are selected each year in the highest level engineering entrance exams. At the end of the year, I was not selected for the Bachelor’s program at the Indian Institute of Technology. I somehow managed to get admission in a private engineering college in Jaipur. No one better knows the pain of studying in a private engineering college in North India then the one who has been a part of it. Four years of the so-called college education would have been the most difficult period of my life if there were no good friends. Like me, my friends were also dreamers.

Living Dreams

I love to read about almost everything. For a year and half, I was with ISKCON’s Krishna consciousness movement. This was my first experience with spirituality. I play guitar because I love music. Me and my best friend even tried to make a rock band but with little success. I was also in a robotics group and we participated in a few robotics competitions and ended up being finalists or winners. It was fun but the lack of support from our college was enough to fade our enthusiasm in robotics.

After struggling for three years within myself, I realised what I wanted to do finally – to do what concerns me, to do what matters me and to do what I love doing. I loved to travel, to see new places and to feel different cultures. I loved the cultural and geographical diversity of the people around the world. I was affected by the way the monsoons in my village were so uncertain that they turned the efforts of farmers useless almost every year. I was fed up of the uncertainties in the India-Pakistan relationships and the distrust and hate the people of the two countries have developed against each other. I was moved by the political struggle in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. I disliked the way colonialism destroyed many civilizations, local cultures and invaluable traditions. I wanted to study about the causes and effects of such incidents on the life of the people. I wanted to present a solution to these problems.

I had known that this is the thing I can understand and make my career in. All I had to do was to know more. For this I decided to pursue Masters in International Relations from a reputed university. For my relief, it was not always necessary to have a relevant academic background. All I had to do was a couple of internships in the relevant areas, presenting a research paper on my findings and to give TOEFL and GRE. My path was uncertain and the goal was long-term. But I have decided.

The Future

Today, I am here at my home writing this article. The problems still exists and the dreams still alive. What I lacked is the guidance which I found in the Internet. I am nowadays searching for internships. I will have to get the support of my parents. They want me to apply for a government job so that I will settle and start earning. They want me to live comfortable and happy. But I hope that they will understand that happiness is not in comfort and money but it’s in doing what you want to do.

I am not the only one who is a part of this new wave to become independent and pursue dreams. I have many friends who are now choosing alternative careers, becoming entrepreneurs, going for social work and the most important – doing what they like to do with sincerity and seriousness. The competition and parental pressure will surely stay for sometime in a small place like Rawatbhata but the things are changing and so is the mindset of the people. May be someday all parents will realise that the best way fight competition is to be out of competition.

Indian Youth – Agents Of Change

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It was not a long time before, when I attended a conference on sustainable urbanization in New Delhi, India. There were 600 young people from all over India participating enthusiastically in discussions, green jobs fair and green activities.

India never saw such a huge mobilization of youth since it achieved its independence in 1947.Indian youth is now talking about development. Gone are the times, when they thought about getting a government or IT job and settle down. They are now having a global perspective and this change in their mindset is running India’s growth engines.

Green For Sustainable Development (www.greenforsd.org) is a nongovernmental organization run by engineering students in Jaipur, India. “Green For SD spreads awareness and imparts education on issues related to sustainable development through seminars and conferences in schools and colleges. We are currently working in Jaipur but soon we will expand in other Indian cities as well”, says Jai Lakshwani who is also the founder of Green For SD.

Akarsh Dhaiya is an alumni of AIESEC which is the world’s largest youth run organization has started his own venture Tuck Inn which provides healthy food at reasonable prices. “During my college time I could not find anything good to eat outside … it was then the idea to open a health food chain came in my mind”, says Akarsh who is more than excited for the new truck he has brought to mobilize his food chain.

Rohit Gangawal, a young nature lover from Jaipur runs R.A.K.S.H.A., an organization devoted to the protection of animals and birds. The organization also works for creating awareness about global warming and climate change. I also had an opportunity to work with Rohit and his team during a rally of school children for creating awareness about climate change and the importance of maintaining green house gases concentration in atmosphere below 350ppm.

RAKSHA student rally for apreading awareness about climate change and global warming. Photo: Team RAKSHA
RAKSHA student rally for apreading awareness about climate change and global warming. Photo: Team RAKSHA

Such examples can be found in almost every city of India where youth is thinking beyond themselves and regular jobs. They are now having a global perspective and are open to entrepreneurship opportunities. They are becoming the agents of change in the modern India. Such optimism in Indian youth and belief in their own capabilities is perhaps seen for the first time in India in recent history. Now these are the times to change the way things are running. The age old administration, politics and policies are changing with the involvement of youth. It is now the time for us to support them and believing in their dreams and actions.