Before I start, I want to take a moment to remember 20 year old Tashni Basheer, the third year engineering student of the College of Engineering (CET), Thiruvananthapuram. She was run over by a jeep during Onam celebrations at the college.
There have been many views expressed on what caused this tragedy, some have blamed the usual suspect, new generation culture (whatever that is), some (including a senior police officer) have blamed movies (really?).
The purpose of this article is not to pin blame. What happened is tragic and could have been avoided if safety norms were followed. The purpose of this article express my views on why students of engineering colleges take it Onam celebrations to the next level and why I think it is a good thing.
First. Why engineering colleges? As my friend Tinu Cherian Abraham recently mentioned to me, “An engineering degree is the new basic degree”. So much pressure have been applied in the past 30 years to make sure every child we produce becomes an engineer or doctor, that anything else implies there is something wrong your child.
Not only has this social pressure supported the education industry of neighbouring states but on last count, there were more than 150 within the state itself. All you need to do is just scrap through your +2 and you are more of less assured a place, you just need to pay up as most of them as self financed private institutions (complete list here).
Parents will take loans to ensure their child goes to an engineering college. To not be able to get into an engineering college is like saying your child has some sort of learning disability here. Other factors come into play, especially dowry. How many of these kids really have an interest in engineering? Shouldn’t we be focusing on spreading our talent potential?
Within engineering too there is a preference for IT, electronics and communications. Not much for mechanical, civil or agriculture. Why is this? Simple the aim of most of these prospective engineers is to work for an IT company, not to get their hands dirty. I know I might be generalising here, there are really talented kids our there but they are really very few and we certainly don’t have a fountain of young engineering enthusiasts to warrant the over 150 engineering colleges.
This brings me to my second point. Why do these kids take Onam celebrations to the next level? Easy. What would you do if after 4 years of family pressure (engineering coaching classes usually start when you are in your 8th grade) you finally get into a college (even if paid) and you have no interest whatsoever in what is being taught? You party! Let off some steam.
Yes, you see the JCB, elephants, fire engine, KSRTC buses all used. Why? Because we can. If you are from a family that can afford to send you to a private engineering college, trust me renting a KSRTC bus or elephant is nothing.
Please don’t blame the kids. They just didn’t land up here, they are result of our parenting. It’s evolution. If you are wondering why we are not making the sort of movies we made in the 80s, you don’t need to look further – we have successfully killed of a generation of talent other than Engineers. Did you know Navin Pauly too is an Engineer?
Now here is why I think these celebrations are good. Having gone through all the uploaded YouTube videos (I have a lot of time these days), I am happy to see the unity on display. There is no separate celebrations based on political or religious affiliations. It’s just one cohesive unit of students doing what young people and supposed to do – have a good time.
Safety is an issue to be taken seriously. As I read on bottle last night, “Enjoy Responsibly!”