A Fast Buck

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When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart,” said 18th century theologian John Wesley. But well, it makes no sense to Indian students in the 21st Century! They know that the world runs only on one fuel: a small blue-green piece of paper, or rather, money.

A large  number of students are now seeking jobs, at as young as 17 years of age. “Extra money never harmed,” says 17-year old Pooja Manghnani, who gets enough pocket money from her parents, yet works as a salon assistant to make that extra buck. She says she needs it to party every Saturday night with her friends and to go to expensive hangout spots with them.So when does she attend her BCom lectures? “That’s not necessary,” is the immediate answer. “All I have to do is clear exams,” she says. And has she thought about a career? “What career? I live for the present, and I am thoroughly enjoying it!” The parents find solace in the fact that at least she’s going to complete her graduation!

It doesn’t end there. Call centre employee 20-year old Abhishek Shah failed his SYBA as he was unable to devote any time to lectures and exams. He is  quite unperturbed though. “It’s just a matter of time. I can clear the exam next year, but just imagine at the rate of about `12,000 per month, you can guess I’ll be richer by about 1.5 lakh! I cannot sacrifice that kind of money!” he says in a matter-of-factly manner. Further, he has no  intention of pursuing any studies as he is happy with the money he is making now. He just appears for his exams on his parents’ insistence. “And what about the future?” one might ask… “Who cares!” is the instant reply.

During the submission of his semester project, third-year engineering student Aditya Mantri was busy writing a software programme for a website he had undertaken. “It was no charity work!” he exclaims, “I was  earning a sum of money equivalent to almost six months’ pocket money! Besides, I had already asked for an extension on the project, it wasn’t  like I was going to fail the exam or lose a year because of that.” It is when children reason in that manner, parent’s have no logical explanation for their own school of thought. Says Mantri’s mother Kalyani, “In our times, education was paramount and nothing even came close. Today,  that is not the case. I do agree that everything is being vastly monetized now-a-days, so his proposition of earning that amount was not wrong. However, I do fear that if one money-making project leads to another, Aditya might be tempted to pursue it at the cost of getting a degree – and of course, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs examples are just easy to quote!” she fears.

That’s exactly the reason why many parents don’t want their children to start earning at a young age. “I am of the belief that once a child starts counting money very young in life, he is blinded by it. Nothing seems more important, not even studies and establishing a career. And the kind of jobs that undergrads take up nowadays can hardly be termed  as being on a career path,” says parent Kantilal Vakil, who did not allow his son Nirav to take up a job when he was studying for his BCom. Another reason according to Vakil is that up to graduation, life gives you an opportunity to enjoy your youth in a very carefree manner, where your only job is to study as you are fully supported by your parents then. “After that, you anyways have to get into the rigmarole,” he says. Nirav, who completed his LLB, now understands the thought process of his father. “I was hell bent to take up a job related to computers then. Of course, it was paying peanuts, but I just wanted to take it up. I wasblinded by the money then,” he relates. He however, respected his father’s decision and is happy with the way he enjoyed during his graduation days. Sometimes, with others, it becomes a way of life. “For me it began  eight years ago as a summer internship after class 10,” says Bhumii Shah, who worked in the media thereafter for many years, “It just didn’t end with the summer, and went on to become a full-fledged job,” she adds. She, however, didn’t allow education to take a back seat and went ahead  to complete her BA through correspondence. In fact, the urge to be further qualified has taken over her so much that she has recently enrolled for her MA as well.

The other side of the coin is presented by many who took internships and are happy they ended in jobs. “But we are not  talking of internships,” replies Paulomi Parekh, whose daughter Aakanksha is in her final year of graduation. “A fullfledged job, during college hours definitely takes away a lot from the kids, without them realising. And once they have a free hand in money matters, it would be next to impossible to teach them any value for money. We are already at our tether’s end on how to inculcate the right values in modern times of corruption,” she adds. “The society is at such a point when there are mixed groups visible everywhere,” says consulting psychologist Dr Milind Joshi. “There are those who earn and still have their head firmly on their shoulders, and there are others who just show off their parent’s wealth. It’s very difficult to judge where today’s youth is heading, and one can only hope that it is in the right direction,” He ends.

Volume 1 Issue 8

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