Two days ago (on June 26, 2007) - it was farewell party by the 2003-2007 batch EC students of GEC Barton Hill. The fellows had intimated us poor teachers the previous day that the function would begin at 11 am and had asked us not to bring our lunch to college that day. When the function didn't start even by half past twelve, I was telling to myself - "Hmm, I understand vengeance, but it shouldn't have been over food."
Anyway, the function started shortly, and after HoD and one or two people addressed the gathering, the students obliged to serve us the biriyani. (I was committed not to speak before food.) So after the staff had the biriyanis and the students had their ice creams (they wanted to end the party with food, I suppose), it was speeches' time again.
From last evening, I was thinking about what to tell my students on this important occasion. These two weeks, some of my B.Tech batch-mates (Rajeev, Sajith and Me) were having a very serious e-discussion on what Rajeev stated as
So this is the jist of what I had spoken then - sans the repetitions and with more polished English. [This is noted down from memory. So those of who had heard the speech, please don't expect a transcript.]
Respected colleagues and dear students,
This is an occasion when memories and dreams wage a war to claim the emotional space inside you. Though, I understand that memories have much more chance to win, today I choose to speak more about the dreams.
With in about two to three years from now, most of you are going to make the most important choice in you lives. You are going to choose what you are going to with the rest of your life.
I know most of you are employed and many of you have more than one job to pick from. But I don't really consider that as any choice.
Some of you might have already wondered on what is the purpose of their lives. I don't intent to give an answer to that here. But in that process, some of you might have realised that it is impossible to remain happy when there is no happiness around you. And that you find the most happiness only when those around you too are happy. I'm addressing those who feel so.
Here again I don't have a one word answer on what to do. But there are some options that have come to my mind at different points in time. I'll try to present them here in an order of decreasing risk levels involved.
1. Join Politics
I have great respect to all politicians - except for those who are hand pulled to the chairs of power by their politically powerful parents. Even if it is for money or power, it is still a very courageous route to choose. And if it is to serve the society, then it is the most potential choice to that end. I didn't join politics only because I didn't have the courage for it.
2. Start your own company
India requires much more jobs to be created. If all of you are going to be employees who are going to be the employers for the next generation? Even if the motive is profit, I think you will be contributing to the happiness of your society. But if you can think beyond profit, think of alternative means of ownership and alternative ways of management too.
3. Join an NGO
Non Governmental Organisations still play an important role in most parts of India. The the ideal solution is to empower the local self government institutions, till the ideal solution is reached, I think being in an NGO you can directly help a lot of people.
4. Join a technology provider for the Government.
The centres that governments have set up to provide for its technological needs are finding it quite tough to attract and retain talented engineers. Most of the time, it is this lack of talent that stands in the way of modernisation of government. I don't need to tell to you the amount of effectiveness and efficiency that proper technology can bring to our governments.
5. Become a teacher.
Now we have reached the zero risk point in the gradation list it seems. It is for cowards like me who couldn't choose the higher ranked options. But still, at-least you take solace that you can speak about those options to your students! Here again many at times, many a people would have told you on the good that a good teacher can do to the society. [These days I'm actually wondering more on what bad that a bad/careless/uninformed/... teacher can do to the students].
6. Keep doing (for life) whatever your first employer makes you do.
But here again, try to do some service part-time. Be with the ones on the other cubicles, but then see the men on the street too. My personal experience so far tells me that part time activism doesn't take you that far. But again, I have some friends who have shown that it needn't be so.
I don't believe or advice that anyone of you should take one of the first 5 choices immediately. Each of it requires lot more of learning. Lessons from life and lessons from a relevant higher study. But when that point in life comes when you decide to choose, make the choice from a wide set of choices rather than choosing between this company or that company.
And don't postpone that choice for too long. Not more than 2-3 years. Coz, the constraints on you are only going to increase.
And if any of you decide to choose any of the first five options or for that matter, anything except the sixth, do leave me a note. I would love to share your joy.
Keep in touch. Keep mailing. Keep blogging.
Post Script: [From Alice in Wonderland]
'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,'
'I don’t know where. . .'
'Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,'