Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Obsession with Romanticism

"Those were the days". Day in and day out we here the phrase being chanted by different people referring in fondness to the various times gone by. Whether it be school, college, friends, events etc. Just as a thought, why are we so obsessed with romanticizing about the past(This has got nothing to do with the philosophy of history class). Right from the time when we start to relate events to ideas and start judging people in light of narrations from history books(Mughals were barbaric, violent, ruthless invaders and just wanted to loot the country), our impressionable minds are nurtured to believe that the past was very beautiful and that we can never live it again (The Golden Period). The question is: why do we want to live it again?

The first thing we realize or learn about life is its constant state of change, its dynamism. We are stuck in this constant yearning to recreate the past. Simple things like the games you played with friends, things you did in school, parties at college, or even old relationships. Somewhere down the line this romanticism obstructs us to accept the new, the present. We are too busy recreating the past and the present just goes by. Alumni from any institution always say, "things were very different when I was here"(Everyone is aware of the context these lines come up in); aren't they supposed to be? Should the institution just pause in time and be static while the world outside changes?

The best thing about memories is that you cannot relive them. The times you spent with your friends are very precious to you, but one has to accept that the sweetness of those memories can only continue as long as they are memories. If we could recreate everything, reunions would make people come together the same way. But the truth is that life has moved on and the sooner we accept the change the better it is. Because when we try to live our past lives in the present, things aren't the same anymore, (we aren't equals, someone has a better job, someone has more money, someone is married, someone is not etc. etc.) and the sweetness of those memories begins to wither. You land up asking yourself, "were we actually that happy then?".

Political parties, priests, advocates of cultural preservation argue that we are losing our culture. Well, as much as we should learn about our past, we have to embrace the present. Times have changed, and those cultural practices and dogmas cannot be followed any longer, simply because no one has the time. 7 day pujas are cut into 3 days, which also is quite long. The reason for such practices in old times was to create a certain kind of meditation and discipline in people. The only kind of education and means of governing the people was religion. No laws existed like they do now. We are taught these things in schools. Culture has not been lost, it has just changed form(certainly a lot of people would disagree), because the preconditions for its existence no longer exist.

Subconsciously we refuse what the present has to offer in our nostalgia of the past. (Bunty was your best friend then, but not any more). He won't understand and speak to you the same way. You cannot relate to him any longer because you two think very differently now and therefore, Sunny is closer to you than Bunty. This by no means is to say that we should forget old friends, it is just to make ourselves aware how in this constant struggle to recreate the past we miss out on so many new things.

Two points in time can never be exactly the same and we should cherish what came by, because not everyone is lucky enough to have such great memories.

The monotony of life is brushed aside with the unpredictability of the future, and when the future comes, like spring after a cold winter, it brings, but new flowers instead of the old.

Wither Do We Go From Here?

It is hard to fathom,
These acts unkind,
By people you always said were “mine”.
Those boats in which we sailed together;
Leaking now, with this stormy weather.
The oars in half, the mast fallen;
The shores we sailed for,
In vain; still calling.

Our castles of vows slowly wither,
The river wild has brought us hither.
And every part it carefully takes;
Remember the flag with pride we had placed.
The towers we had held together;
Cracked and falling,
Has our love turned bitter?

Our words in silence still knock my ears,
The laughs we had still drown the fears,
The bugle sounds; the end is near,
And wither my friend, do we go from here?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is an M.B.A Degree Just Another IT Bubble?

It is a fascinating thought, earning almost 2 lakhs a month, having a good apartment, luxury car, expensive apparels and flying to different parts of the world. But is an M.B.A degree the surest way to get there? The problem with most career options in India is the necessity of earning quick money. Parents want it, the students want it, and everyone who cannot get it is jealous of it. 8 out of 10 students in India today are pursuing or wanting to pursue a masters degree in business administration. How many of you out there even know why this degree is important in the market and what skills you acquire by getting this degree? While the 'temptations of this island' are very attracting, few parents and students give thought to many important considerations before opting for or asking their child to take up a career in this area.

Lets face it, at some level we follow the crowd. What was considered a boom in India in the 90's i.e. computer education and engineering is no longer the buzz word in career options. Why? Because US companies are not hiring Indians anymore. The pay packages are not attractive and there is a flood of engineering graduates from the thousands of private engineering colleges. Isn't M.B.A another bubble just like that?

What most people fail to realize is that not all who dream of a career in business administration make it to the various IIM colleges. What is the result? A degree from a private college of almost no repute. Now, according to our mentality and social structure, a person who has got a degree from a private institution, which is not of great repute, wants the same pay package that an IIM graduate gets. People, not everyone can make it to IIM for a reason! Moreover, what most people do not realize is that within the IIM colleges also there are different scales for different colleges. On top of that, the toppers get the attractive offers you read about in the newspapers. Getting there is not enough! Most graduates of the IIM colleges, who are not toppers, get only a decent package ranging between 3-7 lakhs. Not everyone is getting 22 lakhs! Students who graduate from colleges other than IIMs often land up in a job requiring a lower qualification and feel dissatisfied because they compare themselves to the topper of IIM, Ahemdabad.

Also, what many do not realize is that the MBA market is getting saturated, just like the IT industry did. How many amazing job offers do we get to hear about from Wipro and Infosys or some American company? The problem lies in our fundamental approach to career options. We chase the money, not the career and unfortunately, parents want their children only to chase the money and nothing else. The monetary benefits a career can offer are determined by market conditions. It is simple demand and supply. What is on top today may be last tomorrow. There is no safe career in this world which will mint money all your life. Though it seems rather cliche, but pursuing a career of your choice and interest pays in a lot more ways than money. (Yes, 3 Idiots is an inspiring movie) Excelling at what you do will get you anywhere. Each job has equal opportunity, and like someone said "opportunity lies in the man who holds the job".