Why can't Middle-Class Dream?
Why can't Middle-Class Dream?
By Sovesh Mohapatra
What led the Indian Middle-Class Society to force their children into becoming Engineers and Doctors? Why not a Photographer or just a Food Blogger?
Let’s start off by talking about what the Indian Middle class really is about! It’s nothing fancy, believe me! But, at the same time, it’s absolute love! It’s a small bunch of people mostly hunched up in an even smaller place. It’s four people eating from three plates ( sometimes, two )! It’s wearing your elder siblings clothes or buying clothes two sizes bigger than yours, mostly both! It's using his books to school and considering paneer ki sabji or cottage cheese and veggies, a delicacy! A newer upgradation is the upper-middle class where you may have 4 plates for 4 people, and you get a new set of clothes on festivals, and you MIGHT just be allowed to buy new books once in a while!
But, in a nutshell, the middle class in India is a section of society that understands the essence of life and their life itself inspires them to aim, dream and achieve high!
Having established, in a basic sense, what the middle class stand for, let’s try and understand why they end up forcing their kids to become engineers and doctors and not allow them to simply go for after their dreams. Let’s list down some basic facts, as we begin. The current population in India? 1,359,56,937. Most sought after jobs? Machine Learning Engineer, Application Development Analyst, Back End Developer, Full Stack Engineer, Data Scientist, Customer Success Manager, Digital Marketing Specialist, Big Data Developer, Sales Recruiter, Python Developer! 8 out of the top 10 job requirements according to LinkedIn are offered to people with an engineering background! And nobody needs to tell us how important Doctors really are!
As we read the above we understand, to an extent, why the average Indian middle class parent gets perspiration all over, as their child - the one whose education has burned holes in their pockets - walks up to them and says I wanna throw away all of that away and follow the road “less travelled by”. No one including Robert Frost, told us what lies down that road and we expect the average Indian parent - who hopes that all the hard work they put in bringing up this child will lead to a better and more comfortable future for them as well as their beloved offspring - would allow that?
We truly can’t blame the Indian parent. He is surrounded by a Society where you only respect those whose kids managed to pave a way out of their Hand-to-mouth situation and are now finally earning millions and gifting their parents that new flat-screen TV or that latest SUV or sending them on a Europe tour for their “vacays”. And, after all the work they put in, I don't think its “UNJUSTIFIED” of them to want that! We are in no position to comment on how right or wrong that is since we aren’t really in their shoes, but that’s simply how it is! Also, as one compares the Indian culture to that of the west where there is a larger acceptance for suck creative profiles, we shall notice how deeply invested the Indian parent is in the life of his kid. Most people in the west are working part-time jobs to earn their pocket money and taking student loans to pursue their education which does provide them with some independence to choose what they want to! Also, how many film - making schools or photography courses are you aware of, in India? How many want to make an effort to allow these to be a normal part of the system? While every street has an engineering or medical college, how many colleges specialise in literature or dance or music in say, a cluster of every 5 cities? Make that 10, if you want!
The average Indian parent hence understands a straightforward fact. Engineering or medical = 2 years of extensive hard work, followed by a good job, which is the only possible escape from their current situation. And, honestly, Would it be too bad to be able to go into a shopping mall and pick out clothes without it being a “FLAT 50% OFF SALE”? Would it be awful to be able to go out and eat without worrying about EMIs and monthly budgets?
Despite all this, I still think we have also made engineering sound the one-stop-solution to all of our problems! More than 50% engineers today do not have jobs or are doing jobs they are way too overqualified for simply because they need a steady income to keep their parents and “society” happy! Engineering from just anywhere and with no technical inclination would simply place you back in the vicious cycle that you parents wanted you to get out of in the first place!
Having said that I have also witnessed for myself how, most of us, have romanticised the concept of “Following our Dreams” a tad bit too much! We think being a photographer or an artist or a DJ or a Radio Jockey with zero talents and no money will make us look COOL in the eyes of our friends! In a way, we too are like our parents, simply looking for approval. The difference is that they look for it in their circle and we do it in ours!
The truth, in my humble opinion, is that nothing will come to you easy Engineering and medical entrances in India are considered the toughest in the world. You cant get through one of those without actually having an aptitude and temperament for them. In case you don’t, you might crack the exam with immense hard work and get through and even manage to get a decent job but if you don’t love what you do, do you really think your parents or anyone who loves you, will actually be able to be proud of your bored, tired, frustrated and wacky self? You’d have possibly spent 20 to 30 years of your life trying to please your parents but know this, they shall be more pleased if and only if, you are happy and sated!
The average Indian parent is too scared of risks! He has a fixed budget and an air-tight plan, but as is famously said, “Man Proposes, God Disposes of!” Understand that your parents love you and if you genuinely believe you have a knack for something - GO RUN AFTER IT! BUT, please do not want to be a photographer because the girl next door that you’re crushing on thinks photographers are cool! That’s genuinely the worst you shall do to yourself and to those two people who gave away their everything to provide for you and see you build something of yourself.