I don't know if this is a mentality that is quintessentially Indian, South Indian or just restricted to SASTRA. Recently a friend of mine narrated an incident to me in which his father was summoned to the university by his Dean because my friend has 5 arrears. Upon arrival, his dad had lunch and made a beeline for the Dean's office where the Dean, my friend's mentor (oftentimes a misnomer) and the dad proceeded to humiliate my friend. Now you need to understand that my friend is a fully functional 21-year old Homo sapiens with his own ambitions in life, hopes, desires, etc. The Government of India has deemed him fit to vote, to be able to make an informed decision with regards to marriage, being able to drink and smoke knowing full well the consequences it may have on his body and many other responsibilities. The Government has deemed him a "major" who can sign in cheque books and can be held personally accountable and fully responsible for his actions. Yet, today, adulthood is something that comes rarely. I know of people who still defer to the better judgments of their parents to make workplace decisions for them. Society refuses to see us as adults. "Adulthood is not achieved through documentation", you might argue. But then again, there are no rites of passage to adulthood. At least not in our culture. We are to be given (ideally) the freedom to make choices and be held responsible for them.
Getting back to my friend's story, I think that the Dean should not have summoned my friend's dad. He should have left my friend's life decisions to his own better (or maybe not) judgment instead of carrying out an Open House meeting like they do at school. Apparently the first question that the Dean posed to my friend's dad was, "Do you know that your son has 5 arrears?" When I heard that I laughed so hard I fell off my chair. It rang familiar to when my 8th grade class teacher called up my parents when I flunked Geography. Our teachers' and now our lecturers' visions of their students have remained arrested from when we were 13 years old. This mentality is not restricted to academia.
Even at home, parents (thankfully not mine) might exercise their opinions upon us. Take computer science. Pray to God. Don't get into "bad company". Step-by-step our lives are pre-planned and our ways of life are dictated to us. Creativity and individuality are inordinately thwarted. Our parents, family, society make our choices for us and force-feed their "experience" down our throats. This needs to change. It's all very easy for me to say because, as my mom often points out, I have been given the "liberty to think independently", it seems. I've never been able to wrap my head around an alternate possibility wherein a child's, or anyone's for that matter, freedom to think and dream and controlled. But I just take my mom's words at face value because she says her childhood was like that.
Certain quotes, oftentimes posted as memes, come to mind when I think of this prevailing scenario.
We need to be able to exercise our individualities. My Organizatinal Behavior professor rightly proclaimed yesterday in class, "Everyone is not gifted in everything. Once you are able to accept that, you will be happy." That put things into perspective. All of us have heard of the common adage, "I don't even know why I took engineering!" I think we should all set about exploring our own niches. Although no one can fit in everywhere, everyone can fit in somewhere. Rather than pushing a circular block into a triangular gap, search for your circle.