Papa kehte hain MBA karega : The Great Indian Conundrum



A little while back, I was speaking to a college junior – for probably, the first time. After a small introduction, the first question she asks me is – “ Is there any way I can get myself evicted from this college? ”, with an innocent smile on her face. Prima facie, I thought she must be kidding. But that was not to be…

There are a very few things which stir that debate in me, and even fewer, the author; but when some things do, the debate is eternal, and the dissertation, inevitable. The only respite then, is a deep retrospection, which is the reason for the inception of this present piece.

No, she was not jesting. She actually did not like the rigours of MBA – those case studies, those quizzes etc etc. In fact, she had never even wanted to go into management. “ Then why did you put in all that effort and come here?”, was my inevitable question. “ Papa ne bola – MBA karna hi padega. ” – and the author of this particular piece was perturbed, for two principal reasons – One. How could I so conveniently choose to ignore this quintessential aspect of management education, especially in India; through all my ponderings and tribulations on how things are, and how they ought to be. Two. Slumber would deny me, until I exhausted all the vitality of my unmatched aide, fondly known as MS Word. Hence the solitary choice is – Write.

Why can’t we just let our children do what they want to do, instead of what we want them to do?

About two decades back, began the sheep walk for an engineering degree. Two decades later, the trend continues -with an MBA appended after it. Typically, when parents force ‘The MBA will’ upon their child, this is what goes through the perturbed mind –

Stage I – ‘Ok, let me prepare for CAT. Baad ka baad mein dekha jayega.

Stage II – CAT tamed.

‘Mom.Dad. I don’t want to study further. I took CAT just to make you guys happy.’

Beta, abhi admission hua kahan hain? GD-PI ka preparation toh kar!

‘Ok’ 😦

Stage III – GD-PI cracked too.

‘Now that I have honoured your will, please honour mine. NO FURTHER STUDIES!’

‘Beta, we ask for a meagre two years of your life. Please do not disappoint us. Can you not give us just two years?’

And after a lot of moral, ethical and emotional debate, comes a meek ‘Ok’ from the child.

Finally, you end up in a B-School. What next?

You slowly realize you were indeed correct in your self assessment – this is not where you wanted to be. Of course, you develop a gradual distaste for the curriculum and everything else. The worse thing, however, is that the distaste only grows with time.

Hence comes the eternal dilemma – To quit or to compromise?

Whom do you satiate – the self or its creators?

If you quit, the entire gamut of people – your folks, those nagging relatives, your accomplices, seniors, juniors and even your best buddies – would come down heavily upon you – ‘This is insane!’ , ‘Koi aisa karta hai kya?’ , ‘You must have flunked!’ , ‘Loser!’ , Beta, tumne hamari naak katwa di.’ Also, it would be knaive to ignore the financial loss, let alone the time and energy you put into those Quants, VAs and those Personality Development Programs.

If you compromise, the distaste grows into despair and can break you, literally.

Hence, if you are that annoyed by the ‘B’ life, the Catch-22 situation is indeed palpable.

So, what do you do?

My take – If you can, try falling in love with management : and there are multiple reasons why you can do so. Trust me.

If you still can’t, there’s just one way of quitting and still staying safe from all the travesty – find a ‘better’ career path. One, which everyone around you perceives to be better than an MBA and one which does interest you(Real difficult one, I know). May be, one which gives you more gold at the end of the month or more public awareness : whatever be the parameter of priority for those who will pass a societal judgement on you. Unreasonable as it may seem, it is indeed as practical as it gets – an arduous proposition, but not an experimental one.                    

The only way, this dilemma can be curbed, is to nip it in the bud. If you are totally sure of what you want to do with your life, convince your folks. Right before Stage I. Tell them what you want to do. Why you want to do. How do you plan to do. And most importantly, How will it contribute to you – in every way.

MBA under family pressure1

On the other side, parents also need to realize the importance of letting children do whatever they have a natural liking for, instead of superimposing their own will upon them.

When such synergies are created, half of all management problems would inescapably face extinction , and so would the onerous task of concealing discomposure under the garb of a sonorous giggle! 🙂

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