India is the second most populous nation in the world with a burgeoning section of youth looking for employment opportunities. A dream career in civil services, medicine or engineering attracts the majority of students belonging to middle class or lower economic backgrounds. A highly competitive environment is created among the students to crack NEET, IIT, UPSC exams etc. They toil hard for years to clear these exams and with limited seats and scores of students, a majority of them are not selected. Peer pressure, less pondered dreams, expectations of parents and a fear of ending as a nobody traps them in the quagmire of success and failure. A belief prevails in the society that a person not in these dream jobs is less human than the selected ones. Success in Indian society is measured by the name and fame a person acquires rather than the creativity, interests or moral personality. Hence, a lot many of students feel dejected and keep trying in these exams till they are completely exhausted of the budding energy found in a youth. It appears that selection after toiling hard for years in competitive exams will open the doors of happiness forever. For example in UPSC Civil services, people keep trying for 4-5 years or more to get selected as there are many attempts at disposal. The question which arises here is that whether these competitions actually bring the best out of any student in India. Is competition killing creativity of the youth in India?
Competitive exams in India are more goal oriented rather than process oriented. Students work for results and are deeply attracted to the name associated with selection in these exams. One can easily find photos of toppers pasted across the lanes of coaching wallas in Old Rajinder Nagar. Every student hopes to be the poster boy today or tomorrow. In this way, the interests and creativity of a student are replaced by the dream of selection in these exams. They do not ponder on the process in which they will get into once the fuss associated with exams is over. The process may not be interesting to them as there are no end points or goals associated with process. A doctor has to treat patients, a civil servant has to do public service finally after selections in exams. However, with the focus restricted to goals, a failure shatters the lives of thousands of students across the nation. The growing incidence of suicides in students reflect the thought process linked to exams.
One has to understand that it is only an exam created by us humans and not the will of almighty. It is just simple that the government needs people with certain skills in certain jobs. If you are not selected in one exam that does not mean that your life is gone. There is something better for you waiting there and the only thing needed is to keep looking, trying and being useful. Success to people have come in most unexpected ways and not always in a career which they aspired from childhood. There is no dream so big which can not be torn down as they are created by us only. One should not become a prisoner of their own thoughts and accept failures as part and parcel of life and move ahead. There is no need to get attached to a certain dream which takes away the happiness and beauty of life away from you. These material aspects of life are indeed important but not more than life itself. One needs to give a best shot and move ahead rather than treating selections in exams as key to all the pleasures of life.
Creativity of every student can never be allowed to die in clearing these examinations. The traditional society of India needs to be changed and the glitter associated with certain careers needs to fade away. Every person working in the nation irrespective of the field is playing an important role in building the society. Hence an appeal to all the students and the youth of the nation is to not bind themselves in dreams which are more material in nature. One has to utilize and fuel the energy inside and have a never giving up attitude on life. The point is to keep changing your dreams and making them more natural and less artificial. A certain exam or career cannot define your capabilities but it is you who has the strength to do so.
(The author, who is an IPS officer, wants to remain anonymous)