Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why this Entrance Exam Kolaveri Di?

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“Every house you see here has students living as paying guest or is a Tiffin center. Majority of the multi-storey buildings are coaching centers” – this was what the cab driver who drove me around Kota, Rajasthan last week, told me while driving around Kota. Thousands of students from all over India come to Kota “the entrance exam capital of India” with the hope that they will be able to crack the highly competitive entrance exams like IIT JEE and medical exams. A day after my visit to Kota I had the get together of our high school batch (the batch that graduated from 10th grade in 1991). Seeing “Who is Who” in that list of 220 odd class mates of mine made me think – Do we really have to be so crazy making these students go crazy behind some entrance exam? 
Talk to these kids in Kota and in each kid you can see a Gopal (character in Chetan Bhagat’s book Revolution 2020, who went to study in Kota with the hope of getting admission in IIT) in each kid. They drink, eat and breathe Physics, Chemistry, Math and Biology. They don’t have any life outside studies. The coaching classes will dictate what they should be doing every day. These kids are deprived of normal life of a 12th grader in pursuit of a seat in engineering or medicine. Majority of them think that if they cannot crack these entrance exams they are good for nothing and that is the end of their studies. They fail to understand that only one in every fifty writing IIT entrance will get through and there are ample opportunities outside of these entrance exam to be successful professionally. 
Christ Nagar 91 Batch
Our batch mates have lot of non-engineers and non-doctors and they are all doing extremely good. If my memory is correct, there were four state ranks from our school for the 10th grade. Only five students joined IIT and at least half of them chose non engineering courses after their Plus Two. We all started studying for entrance exams somewhere during the 11th grade and never went crazy like the present generation students. There were only eight engineering colleges at that time compared to 120 odd engineering colleges now. So competition was tough but we always believed that not getting an engineering seat is not the end of the world. 
When I look through the list of 220 odd class mates of mine and how they are doing professionally I am convinced – the craziness for entrance exams that is happening in India now has no meaning. The very thought that you need to be an engineer or doctor to have a successful professional life is a myth that needs to be corrected. 
It is time to free our teenagers from the clutches of these stupid entrance exam mafias that makes millions out of these poor souls with the support of ignorant parents.
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Anonymous Jhanvi said...

good one!! the title is funny,but quite apt..

December 21, 2011 5:24 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Kumar, Cross-Cultural Coach said...

The "Indian rat race"!!!

December 22, 2011 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Ravi C at Dalmia Cement said...

The scenario has surely worsen for competitive exams and for the students wanting to pursue a career in engineering and medical field. This is a simple, well written post.

December 27, 2011 10:18 AM  
OpenID ronfire said...

Just came across your blog and felt I had to leave my two cents, cos you've absolutely hit the nail on the head.

I was one of those NRI kids that get shunted back to India to finish their PUC/Plus 2 and do the entrance thing. I finished my PUC in 1991. I remember the entrance exam fixation being just as all-pervasing as you have noted here, just that it was spread out everywhere and not just in Kota. I might disagree slightly, therefore, that this is a current phenomenon. I remember it being the be-all and end-all of existence even back then. One of my neighbours who finished PUC the same year as I did spent 3 years - 3 years! - taking and re-taking entrance exams until he got through to a vet course, following in his dad's footsteps. When he started his degree, I was virtually done with college and looking forward to entering the real world.

Where will it all end? I faced some highly unpleasant moments convincing my parents I wanted no part of the medicine/engineering rat race but they finally accepted it. 20 years later, I'm doing what interests me intensely, and I love what I'm doing. Perhaps,some the kids today need to stand up for themselves but, I fear, the trouble is that most of them have never been taught to think for themselves and wouldn't know how to. Neither was I, but living on my own in a hostel away from my parents was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned to think for myself.

Sorry, the two cents turned into twenty :)

February 04, 2012 2:17 PM  

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