Couple of days back, while I was enjoying a tea at the Chai Gate of NID, a young kid walked up to me and asked me if there was any college for getting a degree in photography.
Intrigued, I asked him why he needed a degree, and the kid told me that he is a “great photographer” but is “not getting work as “companies“ are asking for a degree”.
I got curious (because I could see that he was blatantly lying) and hence decided to engage. As I pushed him, he showed me his “Insta” account that had one image of a bucket of water thrown at Sun in which he had captured “siliat” (silhouette), and hence it was an undeniable proof that he was the next Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Finding me to be sympathetic, he let in a secret.
As per him, his father had an “oolta circuit” in head, so he can’t understand his son’s great artistic talent. At this point, the poor dad stepped out of an old rickety car in which he had driven down from a distant town and told me what touched me deeply.
“Saheb, Aa 3 Idiots joi gayo chhe” (Sir, He has seen 3 Idiots).
As I frequent academic campuses, I am becoming increasingly sure that being a photographer, travel/food/fashion blogger or stand-up comedian is REAL LIFE for an Indian kid, while having to do any real work for living is just bad Karma.
I often wonder what India will be like when we have five-six crores each of the above three, especially the candid photographers. But, now I do sense that we are getting there soon.
All around me, even in coveted engineering colleges, I see kids feeling as if they have been hitched into a torturous career when they were not aware that one can actually get social media likes for just uploading images and blogs.
I have no real issue with young dreams, but there is a catch here. With each young dream of becoming a photographer, travel/food/fashion blogger or stand-up comedian, very often there are two more old people, the unfortunate parents, who have no idea about what all this means. They have no clue that a social media “like” is LIFE, because the hardships of life lived in India have taught them that one needed money to survive, which they have toiled hard to save.
While the parents had no clue what to do with their lives other than trying to survive and see their kids can do the same, cometh 3 Idiots and Indian youth suddenly discovered that life is all about their dreams and not of their parents.
Thus validated, these kids have become absolutely sure that it is only about them, and not their parents.
Indian parents, unfortunately are culturally conditioned to sacrifice their lives for the happiness of their kids, and hence we have millions of kids making their parents buy expensive cameras and laptops, funding “foreign education” in nondescript US colleges that even locals have not heard about or driving hundreds of kilometres looking for a college offering photography degree while the kid thinks that his father has an “oolta circuit” in brain.
Indian kids being smarter than parents have latched on to the 3 Idiots idea, while parents have not yet grasped what is happening all around them. Net result is, parents, especially from middle class, are falling for the fake ideas of their fake kids.
These parents are the people who have bent their backs in toil to provide a better future to their kids. They have saved money by squashing every dream they have had, and are now made to squander their blood and sweat for kids who think that the parents don’t know what life is.
The problem that I see is, Indian kids have learnt from 3 Idiots, while Indian parents haven’t learnt from Dangal.
I always look at Amir Khan with a great sense of admiration, as he (and, in some sense Sadhguru) has managed to make an ass out of a generation of Indians and yet, have also walked to the bank laughing his heart out.
The man had the audacity to make two consecutive movies, i.e. 3 Idiots and Dangal with exactly opposite messages, and yet we Indians are so stupid that we paid him hundred crores for both but learnt from only one of them.
I want the parents to realise that 3 Idiots has educated their kids that dreams of a kid are far more important than all the sacrifices made by parents to educate him, so parents also have a right to learn from Dangal that tells them that kids must be forced to follow dreams of the father, even if it needed subjecting them to inhuman treatment.
Dangal, for me, is a horror movie celebrating how sickening Indian parenting once was, but 3 Idiots is a completely absurd depiction of what is the Indian reality, and I find 3 Idiots to be far more damaging for the youth of India than even MCQ based competitive entrance tests.
This is because most Indian kids are having what they must have, i.e. a dream, but the lifestyle they are offered by their over-protective Indian parents have prevented them from learning hard facts of life. This has resulted in kids feeling that they have a natural right to their dreams and it is the duty of the parents to pay for it.
As young dreams are seeing no real need of reality-validation, it is the parents who are forced to fund the chasing of unicorns that kids want to do without facing any discomfort.
This has now reached such an epic proportion that it has become difficult to find a kid who wants to do the real work, especially when it means facing hardships. Indian parents, in their desperation of giving what their kids want are burning from both ends, while the nation is producing a delusional next-gen.
Time has come for parents to really revalidate what they are doing. There is no harm to encourage and support a child’s dream, but there is surely a need to apply old-age wisdom to the dream and see if it has any reality-consideration.
Every young person has a right to dream to be cool and pursue social media “likes” over money, but not at the cost of the parents.
My simple advice to an Indian parent is, if your child has a dream that your experience tells you to be absurd, don’t be critical or discouraging, but do ensure that you are not toiling for it.
A dream that requires someone else to pay for it is not a real dream. That is an escape from reality. Indian kids need to be brought back to reality that India is, where money is still a scares commodity that is earned by hard work, and life is a test that only hardy can survive.
As a parent, your job is to make your kid India-fit, and it is not going to happen by you chasing the dreams of your child.