Recently the UPSC results came out in India and congrats to those who got selected. However the selection percentage is way less than 1% (approx 0.158% as per wikipedia). So what about the remainder lakhs of people who don’t get selected? 

This is where I wish there is more awareness of how the long term picture looks. Career is a big part of life but it’s not everything. There are so many other factors or variables that eventually matter in the success or happiness of an individual. 

The world we live in today is vastly different from what it was more than 2 decades ago. There was no internet back then, opportunities were limited.

Today the biggest advantage a student, graduate or anyone for that matter can have is – knowing what they are passionate about or a purpose that they deeply care for. 

There is also a huge difference in culture that is important to recognize. In the west, people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and many other extremely successful entrepreneurs are celebrated and them being college dropouts is looked upon in a very positive manner. How many Indian parents would be happy to let their child drop out of college and pursue a different career/business? 

Just to add a few of my personal thoughts, I have had this conversation with my wife a bit even though we don’t plan on having kids anytime soon. I think there are two things I would earnestly try to do 1) let my children try and explore different things so by the time they are graduating from school, they at least have some idea of what they like, have passion for or something they deeply care about; 2) give them an option where they can take a 1-2 years and pursue their interests. At that point they would be in a better position to choose if they wish to continue on that path or pursue a college degree. 

The framework I think of is whatever I have learnt in life so far, it has taught me that to be happy and successful in life, it has way more to do with different things other than which college they go to or getting selection into UPSC or IIT/IIMs. 

Kind of an extreme example but let’s say someone wants to be a painter. Historically the barrier to entry was very high so few of a very few people could actually make a career out of it. Today, one has to learn some of the technologies like NFT, social media and storytelling – that makes for a good career. These kinds of options never existed even a decade ago. But think of how many people with a passion or talent for painting have had to choose a regular job and never got a chance to express themselves through their art? A lot of people. 

Can life be all about exams? There is so much about human beings that exams and scores can’t capture. A sincere person will sooner or later achieve material success, the Universe conspires to make it happen when there is singleness of purpose. Being unable to crack an exam can be disappointing but shouldn’t be disheartening.