Why this attitude?

I just started college last week in New York. We all know Asians are bloody smart so there’s a sizeable Indian, Pakistani and Korean population here at university. (I’m not going to talk about Koreans, only desis).

The university I attend, New York University, is a liberal arts college. Basically, whatever you major in, has to be paired with courses like Advanced Essay Writing or Poetry Critical Analysis. The following is only about the Indians who’ve come from India, not one’s who have been living here:

No. of desis (not NRI’s) that I’ve met: 23
No. of desis doing science courses or medical: 11
No. of desis doing Economics or business: 12

My first set of observations didn’t really surprise me. While MOST students here take a huge variety of subjeects, Desi’s conform to these two basic fields. Which makes sense, because back home, these are the only things that matter. But it’s still a little disturbing that no one ever wants to move out of these blocks.

Now the annoying part: Out of these 23 students, 10 of them are pretty damn unhappy. Is the university not good enough? The university is ELITE; its fantastic in every sense – living, social life and academics. All of them want to go back to India, because they’re here to study ONLY (In their words). To quote one of them “I’m only here to get a bio degree, why do we have so much other crap about essays and debates?”

I hate this attitude; all that guy wanted to do was get some bio knowledge so he could get some shitty bio-related job and have a sustained income. What people are forgetting is that here, unlike India, people need life skills to progress…Debating, discussions and mostly – THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE is what is important apart from good knowledge.

You could say, its just that guy, but all of them have this attitude. My point is, its not JUST these 10 people, its the whole feeling back home! Every single schoolchild in India (except in international schools) have an undying faith that plain academics is what makes the world go round. There is no one who can deny that desis are bloody intelligent, but the reason we don’t really progress as much as we should when we come to the West, is because we lack the power to express ourselves.

Smash my thoughts or agree with me, I want to hear WHATEVER you have to say…I just can’t believe these guys. This attitude needs to change, we need to learn to appreciate conversation and world cultures. Mind you, I’m not saying that writing poetry is going to lead to success, but its the ability to appreciate a work of art, or to feel the underlying emotion that makes a human more complete.

Do comment .



One Response to “Why this attitude?”

  1. liberal education has always had its poster boys. but none more pertinent than Harold Varmus, a medicine Nobel laureate who majored in English in a liberal arts college. in the Nobel website biography , varmus claims that being involved in student journalism and politics made the difference…without it he would have been just a general physician … with Liberal education he could widen the scope of his study and research so that he ended up with the Nobel prize..

    there is also an oft quoted allegory. if Robinson Crusoe alone on the island wanted to find out if a fruit was poisonous , or how to build a boat conventional education would have sufficed but if Friday ( another human) appeared on the island he would need a liberal education to engage with Friday, to respect his space, to start a discourse, to empathize…

    even in our much derided India, an IAS is supposed to be both a specialist and a generalist( liberal education???)

    however I am surprised that the writer of the post, who is doing a liberal education , has not been provided the wherewithal by his curriculum to decipher why bright kids from the sub-continent are satisfied with some areas of core competence rather than dabbling in a catholic collection of disciplines like say film studies or cultural studies…

    liberal education tends to focus on the student in stead of the subject. it seeks to provide knowledge in the narrow sense that the ancient Greeks called knowledge…

    however in this day and age ‘different strokes of different folks’

    liberal education ( expensive though it is) may have its backers but there is really no reason to make those adolescent , knee jerk value judgments on those who care to think otherwise…

    my humble prescription is go ahead and get that liberal education that you parents had the resources to provide with… study hard, become an investment banker, start something like C-SPAN here in India when you come back….but don’t get peeved by folks who do not think like you…narrow minded, reductionist, cartesian bastards..who cannot be as holistic or holy as you

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