“The mind of a child is fragile. Their emotions touch their future. Your words shape their destiny.”-Anonymous
As I picked up my morning newspaper, a bunch of leaflets slipped out of its pages. Oh boy! The newspaper as it is bombards me with advertisements, and the leaflets just seem to add to the agony. As I got picking the leaflets that were strewn across the room, a little pink one caught my eye. It was an advertisement placed by a coaching institute located in a thriving medieval era colony- Kālu Sarai, in Delhi.
“A Guaranteed Programme”, it said. “Give me a student of class VIII or IX and take back an IIT engineer after 5 years.”
The great Indian IIT dream it was, and institutes, such as this, sell that hope!
Every year over 12 lakh students appear for the IIT-JEE for admission into the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology. With a 3% selection rate, the exam is considered to be one of the toughest competitive exams in the world. A brain child of the first Prime Minister of India Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, the IITs were seen as a nation building project. However, over the years, the institutes developed a brand identity of sorts- with its alumni making it big in the corporate world. The Indian-origin CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, is an IITian, so is billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. For middle class India, the IITs promised a secure and bright future. It was a sort of assured career insurance for one’s child. The harder it became to secure an admission, the shinier the alumni’s future.
Image for Representation Purpose only. Source: The Hindustan Times
And feeding fodder to this dream of Indian parents are coaching institutes across the nation. The notorious of it all are the ones in Kota, Rajasthan. In fact, this small barren town in Rajasthan has now become synonymous with IIT coaching institutes. Many parents are of the opinion that a coaching institute in Kota would give their child a sure shot victory at the IIT-JEE.
But the streets of Kota speak another story too-of children succumbing to the pressure and ending their lives. The undue expectations from parents, often leads to lack of motivation, low self-confidence and morale. A point comes when children are unable to cope up and are left traumatized. For these children death seems to be more peaceful, than going through the daily rigmaroles of coaching institutes and parental pressure. Fragile lives snuffed out way too early!
In a recent conversation with a friend of mine, I casually asked her high school son if he had some idea on what he would like to pursue post class twelve. The young boy all of 16, replied that he was preparing for the IIT-JEE. “Ah!” I said, “An engineer in the making”. His mother was quick to retort back. “Well not any engineer, but an IITian. My husband is one and my son will follow the family tradition.”
I was aghast!!!
Don’t we all as parents dream of seeing our children do well in life? Well, there is surely nothing wrong in that. But things aren’t really all right, when we begin to force “our” dream on them. If giving them the right education and setting values straight is a necessity, it is equally important to allow your child to dream on his own- to build his aspirations.
And that’s what as parents we need to be doing. Encourage and nourish! Sow the seeds tenderly and watch the tree of life bear fruits accordingly,’ cause children are fragile lives.