What If India… ?

by Friday, July 11, 2014

An Average Indian’s Life Cycle:

1. Be born.

2. Go to school.

3. Preferably, stand first in class.

4. Go to a good college.

5. Become a doctor/engineer/lawyer/scientist/IT professional/MBA (or anything else that you’ve convinced your parents will fetch you a decent salary after graduation).

6. Get a good job.



9. Spend the rest of your life repeating the above cycle, except now you play your Parents.

Hmmm. Sound familiar?

Have you turned 23-24 and experienced the on-slaught of the parental persistence to get hitched? I think we all have. Some of us are luckier than others, and they back off once they realize we have a different vision/dream for our near future. But the ones who give in, well they get sucked into the above mentioned life cycle, and then their life focus pretty much shifts to in-laws, babies, diapers, nappy rashes, and basically just living for others, not for themselves. (Is there something wrong with wanting to live for yourself? But hey, that’s another discussion for another day).

And this thought of mine was only reconfirmed when I happened to read this article that someone shared on Facebook last week.

So here’s my follow up thought – just think about this for a second.

WHAT IF we changed Steps 7, 8 and 9 above to say maybe the following:

7. Save up enough for your world travels.

8. Travel the world for a year or more.

9. Write a book about it.

10. Then travel the world talking about your book.

11. Become a life coach.

12. Write another book.

OR OR OR OR maybe this:

7. Work on a business idea you have.

8. Save up enough/take a loan and start your own business.

9. Expand in 3 years.

10. Sell and re-invest.

11. Take a break coz you’ve earned it and travel the world.

12. Start a new business with a brand new idea you had during your travels.

… I could go on!

But do you see my point?



But this is while we’re looking at a microscopic level and analyzing ONE LIFE.

What if we zoomed out for a bit and looked at an ENTIRE NATION?

What if ALL OF INDIA, and all the Indians in every part of the world…. had the freedom to pick steps 7, 8, 9, 10, 11… of their own free will? Guided by their own personal passions, personal drives, and their own personal dreams for their life.

I see countries where this happens.. and I see economic growth. I see a rise in entrepreneurship. I see a rise in personal independence. A high sense of personal freedom. I see nations that grow rapidly because an entire population contributes in their own personal, individual ways to the growth.

And trust me when I say this – they’re not necessarily better prepared for the real world than us Indians. I’ve seen and experienced this first-hand. Our education system beats most education systems around the world hands down. So that by the time we’ve graduated from high school, we know a lot more than an average kid say from the US. It’s true.

Sadly, we lose the lead.

But just imagine… such well prepared, thinking, educated, intelligent 21 year olds.. free to think about what they want to invent, create, build, work on for the rest of their life… in my mind, I see a country that could race way ahead of a Germany, Japan or USA.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to diss our “traditions” or our “culture”, or even remotely interested in judging people who actually choose to have the kind of life mentioned in the first list above. There are people who actually WANT that out of life. And there are people who have to want that because it would mean giving happiness to a lot of people who are important to them.

But it’s the MINDSET that I want to question.

What if we weren’t programmed to think that marriage/having babies was the be-all end-all of our adult lives?

What if we had the freedom to think about writing the pages of our lives’ books with the words that WE chose?

What if a regular dinner table conversation in an Indian home didn’t have questions like: “so when do you plan to settle down?” / “when do you want to meet that boy/girl your auntie mentioned last week” / “now that you’re married, when are you giving us a grandchild” / “bhatia aunty’s daughter is married and just had a baby, what are you doing with your life?” thrown at the kids by the elders, but INSTEAD had conversations that started with: “Are you happy?” / “Are you feeling passionate about your job?” / “What goal do you have that you want to achieve in the next 5 years?” / “Is your life fulfilling you currently or are you looking for something to change, if yes, what?”

What if we knew that the happiness of our loved ones only depended on us following our dreams and passions, and in us living a life that fulfilled us on every level of our being?

And yes, this fulfillment could come from marrying the person of our dreams and building our lives, homes and families with them, or it could be fulfillment that comes from becoming the CEO’s of the companies we work for, or it could come from turning into the lead singer of a struggling band.

Whatever it is – I just prefer to advocate free will. And open dialogue.

I don’t know… call me a new-age thinker or a challenger of the traditions.. but there’s just something awesome about freedom.


Until next time – keep Being Awesome.


6 Responses
  • story teller
    July 11, 2014

    I love your train of thought. Unfortunately as a fellow Indian I can say without a doubt that we never grow up, always under the lock and key of our parents. We can crib about social issues for hours together over cups of coffee (politics included) but the moment any of us take any steps towards it (like working for an ngo), you are immediately reminded that Mrs. Sharma’s daughter works at a software company and earns in lakhs 🙁
    And with regards to marriage, you shift from being under the locka nd key of your parents to other’s parents.

    • Jyoti Sardar
      July 11, 2014

      Hey Story Teller! I agree with you, but I also know that it takes a lot of being thick-skinned to bypass and ignore the ‘Mrs Sharma’s daughter’ comments and carry on doing your thing.. a lot of our mental space gets taken up by thoughts that are thrown at us from an early age.. that kind of mental conditioning takes a long time to get over, provided there is constant conscious effort. And giving in and believing that we are just transiting through life from one caretaker/guardian to another isn’t really going to take us forward on our personal paths at all. Maybe the effort is worth it? 🙂

      • story teller
        July 11, 2014

        True, Haha 😀 I meant the lock and key thing sarcastically.
        I read an article that was obviously written by someone truly frustrated but I did find merit in it, it said that as Indian children our parents definitely do a lot for us (no offence to the others) but they expect us to listen to them all throughout our lives just because of the same.
        I think parents in general find it difficult to let go, name it love or their over-protectiveness at play.
        They really need to let us off the leash, atleast that is what I have been trying to explain to my own parents. Granted that it won’t happen in a day but gradually I do hope that they listen.
        I guess as a society also we are crappy, crappy enough to compare ourselves with the wealth of others and never living our dreams.
        True that “log kya kahengey” has killed a lot many dreams than any other thing.

  • Jyoti Sardar
    July 11, 2014

    True that. Luckily, I’ve never reached a point of frustration, my parents have only been too cool to let me and my sister do our thing, and decide what we want out of life. This chain of thought happened as I was watching a young couple friend struggle with putting their child to sleep during a dinner party, and then spending most of the evening talking about how their lives now revolved around the little one’s needs and schedules. Made me think – hmm, what if they hadn’t been made to choose this path? What could their lives have turned out to be? Anyway.. glad to see your comments, an open dialogue/discussion is very welcome:)

  • Kunal Lala
    July 23, 2014

    A little late to join in but…great stuff Jyoti…I agree with you on the mental conditioning and that people don’t consciously make an effort. One can’t evolve to see the larger picture if one seeks security, intrinsic growth only happens by getting over insecurities, which we are told to avoid since our formative years.
    All the generations brought up in independent India have struggled and worked hard to make ends meet, which in a way has become the primary reason for this tunnel vision and this has been passed on to the next generation. As we evolve into a more matured economy, we will surely witness people staying true to themselves and following their passions.

Tell me what you think!