India is a free and a secular country, or so I have been told. But, the question here is, is it really? Are we really free to do whatever we wish? Or are there still many restrictions on certain things? Now, I am not talking about things which are illegal of course, but, of something which is completely legal. Not only legal, it is compulsory for all of us! And yet, we are not free to decide for ourselves, or so it seems. It is about deciding for ourselves. Choosing what we wish to pursue. Our interest. Our stream of study. Yes, our course! Our degree! Our career! Are we free to choose that for ourselves? Most of you would say ‘yes’ blindly, but then, is it really that simple? Or, is there something more to it? The thing is – we are NOT! Not all of us are. Hardly a few. Though there has been a lot of debate on whether or not students should choose their stream of study as early as class 11th themselves, or should parents interfere in this matter, I personally think that it should be left for the student to decide. I agree that parents’ support is very very important. But then, do parents in the so-called open-minded modern India support their children with their choices? From what I have heard so far, most of them don’t. Very few. Very very few. The ratio was as low as a meagre 4 to 30…

During my English lab class just yesterday, a very interesting conversation took place. Since it was our first class for this semester, Sir asked us to introduce ourselves. After all that boring intro stuff, he asked something to the whole class. Something very logical. Just one simple question. The question was this – “How many of you in this room are really interested in the course you are doing right now?” At first, I thought that it is a very stupid question. The reason was very simple. If the same question is asked to a boy in class 10th or even 11th, there is an equal probability of his saying yes or no. Because there is not much of a choice. But, after class 12th, the options are all open to us. There are tons of streams which we can ponder on and then join what really interests us. So, naturally, most of us would raise our hands. But, surprisingly, only 4 hands went up. Yes, only four! Strange, isn’t it?

About me? Well, I raised mine too. Obviously, why should I waste 4 or 5 precious years of my life in doing something which doesn’t interest me? Haven’t I already spent the past 12 or so years doing that? Now, that is, after class 12th, the college period, is the time to do what I have always wished to. So, why do something which I hate when I can do something which I absolutely love!

But for now, let’s focus on the lab class scenario for a moment. Out of 30 students sitting there, only 4 hands went up. I was like – what the hell? What are you all doing here then? I wanted to ask just this question to each and every single person in the room who hasn’t raised his/her hand. But, I could not possibly do that. Thankfully, Sir himself did that for me. What he asked them was a very beautiful way of putting the question – “If given a chance, what course would you like to join?” Some said banking, some said designing and a few said law. Then, he asked them again – “Why are you here then?” I was shocked at their response to this question. They were like – “parents forced me to” or “Having an engineering degree gives me a status in the society”.

What?? Come again? Engineering degree gives us Social status? Nonsense. People don’t respect you because of your stupid degree. People respect you because of your behaviour, your basic ethics and your way of living. Not your degree, for sure! And the other answer, “parents forced me to”, is what really made me write this thing. I can’t probably say that parents are wrong or something like that. But then again, something somewhere definitely is wrong. It just somehow doesn’t sound right. It is high time that we finally start doing what we have always wanted to.

I don’t know the solution to this problem, but, I am sure this is gonna ruin many lives in the near future. Because, doing something without actually liking it is useless. It is a totally different case than class 12th, where we need marks. And, just tell me one thing, why do we study so hard to get good marks? You know it. Because we want admission in a reputed college. That’s what I am saying from the very first line! We know what we want! Then, what’s the problem? Why are people answering like this? I don’t really know how to put this in words. People have gone mad, that’s the least I can say. Think about it for a moment. Our future and job satisfaction is much much more important than this stupid degree! So, it is up to you. Try your best to make your parents understand what you want to do. I can’t think of any reason for which they will stop you. Take them to counsellors. Make them talk to your teachers. Something. I am damn sure they will get you and will allow you to live your life the way you want..