The Career Cult: Move Beyond the Sciences 

Illustration Credits: Michael Hirshon/New York Times

By Mohammad Rizwan

ONE can not imagine how rapidly humans have progressed in recent times. There is rarely any field where one can get stuck. Be it in medical sciences or transportation or modern machinery, there is rarely any field we have not conquered. Everything is at the fingertips of a person. Whether you need medicines or grocery or your car needs to be repaired, just dial a number or book it on the internet! Everything is so easy. We may have excelled almost in every field but I still feel, rather I have experienced, that we are way behind in one of the most important fields, education.

I was strolling along the narrow, patchy road of my village when I met an elder neighbour after a long time. He was happy to see me. He greeted me with a wide smile. After a general chit-chat about family, health and a few other things, the conversation jumped over to education, a sector towards which our society is one dimensional. He asked me what I was doing nowadays. I said I’m doing Honors in English Literature, as it is. He was suddenly distraught! The wide grin on his face turned into an ugly frown within no time. What followed is the funniest line I’ve been hearing time and again. “You were a bright student, I remember. Why did you choose this subject? Why didn’t you apply for NEET?”

Another instance I remember is a telephonic conversation with one of my cousins. She told me that I had the potential but did not work hard. I asked her how come I did not work hard. I further told her that I am pursuing a degree in English Literature and I have plans to study further and excel in the subject. Her answer was similar to the neighbor’s statement. She said, “You did not apply for NEET!”

NEET, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, is one of the most prominent competitive examinations of the country. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and grit to qualify this examination. It produces doctors, the saviors, the heroes, who have an immense contribution towards the society. There is no doubt about the fact that qualifying NEET is quite an achievement, but what we forget most of the times is that there are other subjects and competitive examinations to be pursued, which are equally valuable.

A family is not run by a single person. Every member of a family contributes towards its development and growth, and every member holds his own significance and value in the family. Similarly, every profession holds an important significance in this huge family. Doctors hold their own value, so do businessmen, writers, sports-persons, engineers, drivers, teachers and every other profession of the world.

The reason why I mentioned earlier that our society has a one dimensional approach towards the educational sector is that most of the people here think that if a student doesn’t opt to go for this competitive examination after completing schooling, then he or she is not capable of studying at all, let alone finding a “respectable” job. I remember, as kids, when we were asked about our aim in life, most of us would say that “I want to become a doctor”. Little did we know that our society will take this too seriously!

The message to the students is that taking the advice of parents and elders is a good thing. They never make bad decisions about your career and life. Their intentions are always pure. But at the same time, you have to take your own self’s advice too. You have to ask yourselves these questions- If I take up a particular subject, am I doing justice to myself? Even if I excel in this subject, will I be a happy person or a successful yet unhappy person?

Thousands of young students have fallen prey to this one dimensional approach. Many careers have ended even before taking off! So, a message that I would like to pass to the parents too is that they shouldn’t force children to go for a particular course that they’re not interested in. This pressure and force often leads to depression and an increase in suicide rate. Save your children from depression. Let them choose a subject they are good at and a subject they love by heart. If one wants to be a doctor let him/her be, a writer, let him/her be, an engineer, let him/her be. Let them be their true selves! I’m sure that this approach will shape their careers and they will not only become great poets, writers, sports-persons, doctors, engineers but good human beings too.


  • The author is pursuing an Honors in English at Cluster University, Srinagar 

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