(continued from Part III - Sad But True)
But while figures paint a completely different picture, the ground reality is, still, this - a vast majority of the population has always and still chooses to swim in tried and tested waters, for as the age old saying goes, a traditional professional degree in hand is better than two severely limiting certificates including one general degree and one fancy diploma in some vocational course in the bush.
Granted, there are genuinely smart people from regular (read: non-wealthy, non-artsy) backgrounds who don't go for science after 10th - and even if they do, switch over after their 12th. And granted, there has been an improvement in terms of the masses' mentality - so it's no longer "engineering for boys, medicine for girls" (which has definitely been aided by the fact that the allied branches, unlike the core ones, do not involve any strenuous physical activity), and law, which has always been respectable, has come into the picture. Also, granted that the percentage of smart, talented individuals has simultaneously gone down in these traditional professional fields while going up elsewhere (this being more evident in urban areas where the lack of knowledge of certain people in private technical colleges astounds you whereas interacting with, say, a media student makes you heave a sigh of relief).
But the fact of the matter - and this I cannot back up with any figures or stats - is that you are more likely to find a genuinely smart person with a balanced knowledge of the world and brimming to the top with multitudes of talent and ideas just waiting to be unleashed onto this world in an engineering college than anywhere else in India. Well, at least till they're in the first year and a half, after which the education system starts taking its toll - but that's an entirely different discussion altogether. Exponents of certain performing arts as well as sports usually condition themselves to train from a very young age, no doubt - but that's yet another totally tangential discussion.
Most of those who go for science and then engineering are brimming with potential - they the smartest minds in their respective peer groups that are at once knowledgeable as well as analytical (which is probably the reason they find themselves in this field in the first place which sucks 'coz aptitude over passion is a bad, bad choice to be made at such a crucial juncture of life), and while there are various theories ranging from multiple intelligence to God-giftedness, the possession of such cerebral prowess ensures that they can excel at whatever they choose to pursue, including many things creative. Whether they choose to fulfill their potential is yet another question that I am not really concerned with at this moment.
Conversely, since everything depends on marks and barring exceptional cases (illness, phobia of exams, or an extremely clear idea of what you want to do with your life), the smartest minds get the top marks and get into science-based professional courses; the above average ones manage to get into science at the +2 but are forced into BSc or a rethink (which, in many cases, turns out to be a blessing in disguise). Those with double digit IQs, well, you know where they land up. So if you think that everyone who's studying literature, the arts, film and other culturally superior stuff are doing so because they have always wanted to, well, you are wrong - chances are they could not get into the conformist stream and made their peace with it.
On the other hand - and this I say from personal experience - walk into an engineering college and while there will be people who live up to the stereotype of geeks, chances are you'll bump into someone who's very well-read, someone who loves dissecting films on the basis of their technicality, someone who's so knowledgeable that s/he has won every quiz since primary school; there are bound to be a bunch of sportspersons who are good at what they play, a gang of riders who can't live without their bikes and many bands of extremely skilled musicians who can set any stage on fire.
And as for why every second public figure isn't an engineering graduate, well, if someone doesn't want to hone his/her talent and pursue it as a career, let it be, okay? That's not to say that there aren't any well-known people who have a BE/BTech to their name - on the contrary, you find them in all sorts of fields (and I am not even considering anything technical or managerial here). But it's my turn to just let it be - for now.