Looking beyond the AIEEE

Tonight I share an article where my father expresses his views on a situation many Indian parents end up facing  –
9th June, 2012 11:44pm
 
I was half sleep when a text message woke me up. It read – ‘AIEEE 4111′. It was from one of my ex-colleagues whose son was aspiring for an admission to one of the top engineering institutes in the country. The rank, 4111, was a really excellent one  in the AIEEE exam, considering especially that more than a million candidates appeared for the exam in May. In fact, what makes this rank even more remarkable is the fact that the first 3000 – 3500 students may not even join any of the institutes available through the exam as they would be most probably be joining one of the IITs or dropping an year to improve their JEE ranks the next year.
 
The message made me wonder about 2 other students, whose parents I knew.  I informed them immediately that the AIEEE results were out. On calling them the next day, I found out that one of them had secured a rank of 45,000 while other had ranked around 2,35,000. Creditable as they were, such is the cut-throat level of competition for the limited number of seats, that they would normally not be enough to make it to one of the  nationally reputed top engineering colleges.
 
The first question that came to my mind was – What should be the next step for these two students ? What if one of them was my own son or daughter? Would I consider this a failure on my child’s part? Sadly, in India, most parents do. What they need to realize is that this is definitely not the end of the road; but rather a great chance to explore other exciting education and career opportunities. We have, over the years ended up building a regime of expectations from our children, where the two most direct routes are –
 
Engineer -> MBA
 or
Doctor
 
In my view, only if a student is really interested in the various engineering courses offered, has appeared for other entrance exams like the BITSAT or State entrance exams and scored well, should he/she opt for pursuing the engineering route. To me, it makes no sense what so ever, in both settling for a mediocre institute or in bluntly keeping on banging for an engineering birth by dropping an year (and possibly more). I would rather sit with my son; discuss our options; take a hard, long look at his interests; and pursue a field that would play to his confidence.
 
I would not really go into great detail, but here are some of the opportunities (assuming a science background in the +2 years of school) you might want to explore if you find yourself in a similar situation –
 
-A direct officer level entry to the Indian Navy (Logistics Branch) or a Marine engineering degree through the navy or otherwise.
-Look for an esteemed career with the Indian Army beginning at the NDA
-If you have a penchant to sketching or design, try for an admission to one of the top architecture or fashion design institutes.
-Take up an under-graduate course in Hotel Management or Business.
-Take up a course in sciences if your child has a dream for it. Remember, there are always excellent opportunities available in R&D, especially in bio-sciences, pharmaceuticals, space, etc.
-There are several courses very similar in structure and opportunities to engineering like BSc (IT), BSc (Computer Sciences). One could always pursue them even whilst preparing for another attempt at the engineering exams, instead of entirely wasting an year.
The list is of course long, and great success always follows wherever passion and hard-work are. I can only advise and eventual success depends upon the individual’s drive. In the end, it is of utmost importance to understand the psyche of each individual student and providing the right counsel.
– Sudhir Kumar Pant
With over 30 years of experience in IT & Telecommunication, Sudhir is one of the founder members of the safalmantra initiative and the prime visionary behind the idea. Over the years, his counsel and initiative has been helpful to many young students looking for the best career option.
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Why don’t you smoke?

I’ve come across this question quite a few times, and frankly, the reason is, its purely out of choice. In return, I always come up with, “Why do you smoke ?” And generally, nobody has a clue, as they give me a puzzled, all confident smile.

The reason I’m jumping my ass into this ever controversial tobacco battle tonight is something I witnessed about an hour back. I was inside this grocery store, buying some random stuff, and amongst the small crowd, there was this really cute little girl not more than 6 or 7, buying herself an ice cream. Seemingly her parents had sent her to the shop, just outside the apartments’ gates, to pick her favorite ice cream. I was looking through the rack for the stuff I had come for, while noticing how cute the entire thing seemed as she kept contemplating between the flavors. Just as she finally decided on the dessert she wanted, she went to the counter, and muttered, ” I want this ice cream, and 2 cigarettes “. I was aghast, shocked with complete disbelief. What did this little ice cream girl have to do with cigarettes? The shopkeeper, almost matter-of -factly, handed her the 2 smokes, and she happily exited out.  Just as she was leaving, I asked her, almost calling out, “Aapko cigarette kyu chahiye ?” (Why do you want these cigarettes? ), and in unison with the shopkeeper, she replied, her dad wanted them ! It was just plain, disgusting parenting, and I didn’t know what this kids parents were upto.

But, what happened tonight is obviously not the reason I don’t take to smoking, the reason I don’t is that I have a choice. I have the choice to avoid one of the ways to fall to something as fatal as cancer; I have a choice to keep my lungs clean, be able to maintain good stamina, to keep healthy, and to not slowly, voluntarily kill myself. I have seen and read about innocent people, little kids who’ve had to face life-threatening, and often fatal diseases, for no real faults of their own. Kids, who were born to HIV; people who faced cancer just out of sheer bad luck, whose bodies were messed up from the inside, and they didn’t have a clue about where it came from. I know, just as much as anyone that I could face it tomorrow. But I have this choice today, right now, in this moment, to make it less probable. I have a choice to a healthy life, and I know I’m not the cleanest one around, nor for a moment am I implying, that I don’t have habits that I don’t regret, but this is something, that never caught up to me, and so I plan to keep it that way.

As for that little girl, I really can’t come up with words to express how pathetic I feel about her parents. Your parents are the ones you look up to, especially, more so as kids. They are your role models, the ones you brag about, the ones you protect, the ones you defend, the one who defend you, but parents like hers, are shameless, and to say the least, not worthy for any child to look up to. I am just a young guy myself, but that right there, is something I would never be proud of, as and whenever I become a parent. And, to think that her father send her out at 10 in the night, to buy cigarettes, with the lure of an ice cream, just disgusts me to the core. Think about it, I don’t imply you were to ever do this, but unless you were to quit, you’d never know when it drove you to this !