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Monday, April 02, 2012

Engineer or bust!

A small boy who has just finished his secondary level board examinations (ICSE) came to see me the other day to say hello, to ask after my health, and to tell me about his plans for the immediate future. He was the quiet, sober, attentive, diligent and reasonably intelligent type: far from well-read and hungry for knowledge, of course, but the type that is sure to do well, in today’s climate, in whichever line of study and work he chooses for himself. I naturally wished him well, and said I’d be glad if he keeps in touch. The sad thing – for me – was that he too (groan, yawn) is determined to go into engineering. Ever heard of the phrase ‘siren song’?

Will someone explain to me this craze that has absolutely possessed this country? I have written on this before: see, for instance, this post which is now almost two years old. In my day it was bad enough (a fool of a headmaster cast one glance at my ICSE marksheet and said ‘You are going in for science, of course’ – and nipped in the bud what might have been a far more rewarding career, though I eventually gravitated towards my amour propre anyway…), but now it has become nothing less than a mania, a pandemic. Just about everybody wants to become an engineer, from a banker’s son to a paanwallah’s. The truly mad, sad thing about the whole business is that a) most of them – often their parents, too – have no idea what engineering means and what kind of career it offers, b) most have never thought it necessary to find out about it, nor about what other options they have, c) most of them will just drift into whatever stream they get according to their ranks in one entrance test or another, and spend four listless years learning very little, because, frankly, they are not interested, d) after college, they will get into very run of the mill jobs (even totally unrelated ones, like chemical engineers going into IT, simply because they cannot get anything else) and spend the rest of their lives being quietly frustrated – as I can see with thousands of ex-students, who cannot say what they are doing with their lives besides shopping, eating, partying, watching TV, yelling at spouses and children, quarrelling with colleagues, envying slightly more ‘successful’ neighbours and relatives or preening on Facebook, or they will switch courses and go off into entirely irrelevant careers like management or public administration, which is a total waste of an engineering education (I have this on the authority of an ex-director of IIT Kharagpur, besides knowing that you can get into an IIM with a degree in history if you can pass the CAT), or lament for the rest of their lives that they didn’t go into something more interesting that they were born for …

I wrote in an op-ed article in The Telegraph titled ‘Is the Joint Entrance Examination a social evil?’ almost thirty years ago that what was actually happening was that India was churning out, broadly speaking, millions of third-rate engineers (glorified mechanics, no more, doing repair and maintenance jobs most of the time) and probably losing out on countless first-rate artists, writers, teachers, musicians, sportsmen, film directors, judges, administrators, lawmakers… all types needed to create a healthy, balanced and truly progressive society, and who was really gaining anything from it except those who ran cram shops (think Aakash and FIITJEE)? I have been saying this all my life since then, as a teacher, public preacher and parent. The wonderful thing is that most people I question have no answers (and they often mind terribly that I make them uncomfortable by asking them to think about answers), or they dumbly repeat the same lines I have heard ten thousand times before – that ‘society’ expects them to goad their children into this common cattle pen so that their wards can find some ‘status’ and ‘security’, or that the ‘other lines’ I talk about (‘general line’, many of these semi-literates call them, though I have never heard of anybody, not excepting the likes of C. V. Raman and Amartya Sen and Sugata Bose, who studied in a ‘general line’ rather than physics or economics or history) are only meant for talented people, whereas they know that their children are ‘mediocre’, and shouldn’t dare to venture into such dangerous waters. Well, there are three things I want to say about it: A) what very great status and security does a common engineer’s job grant, for heaven’s sake? I don’t meet too many engineers who make even a lakh a month, and especially in private sector jobs there’s hardly any security of tenure, even, leave alone freedom and respect: both union leaders and senior management treat you like scum! B) how do all these parents know that their children are merely mediocre, and have no special talents to cultivate? and C) if it is so widely agreed that engineering is the only refuge for mediocre people, how do they then dare to turn around and start talking about how their ‘talented’ kids have got into engineering school? How weird a country this is, really, where you can have your cake and eat it too; one can be a moron and a talent at the same time!

What I truly wonder about is why so many people keep coming to me every year: and this year I am wondering more than ever, because my classes are filled to bursting, and people keep on dropping in and phoning at all hours of the day still, literally begging to let their kids in, desperate even to enroll for the next year, bluntly refusing to take no for an answer. But why, I keep on asking myself as well as those who are closest to me – what do these people want, and what miracle do they expect from me? I am just an English teacher, and they are all convinced that their children absolutely must become engineers, for which you certainly don’t need to know more English than the average lower-division government clerk, and good marks in ICSE/ISC don’t matter much anyway, since bright kids and idiots alike go on to get admission in the very same schools and colleges, and on top of everything else, I don’t advertize and I am not even in the business of ‘guaranteeing’ good marks in examinations; instead I keep telling them like an endless litany that marks depend partly on luck and partly on the children’s own merit and effort! Nobody, I am quite sure, gives a damn for the things that I myself consider important parts of what I teach: the ideals, the respect for language as the greatest invention of all time, the love of knowledge in its entirety, good virtues like courtesy, diligence, cleanliness, quietness, punctuality and keeping promises and hating gossip, the importance of the right and power to make up one's own mind, informed concern for the neediest in society, appreciation of art and literature, fascination with history, admiration of justice and contempt for the merely rich… all that goes into the making of civilization, all that has always been dear to me: nobody, I am sure, cares a busted nickel for all that. Yet so many hundreds of parents – many of them well educated too – are somehow convinced that their wards absolutely must get into my tuition; and they are willing to go to absurd lengths for it, in terms of the people they are ready to urge to coax me to the kind of money they are willing to spend and the time and distance their children will have to spend/waste routinely simply coming and going. What folly is this?

Just as an aside, I teach plus-two level students, too, in the commerce and humanities streams – mostly female, alas, for obvious reasons – and it’s been almost 24 years now, and I have little to report that is encouraging. I find the overwhelming majority of them to be not only intellectually mediocre but lazy, listless, unfocussed, interested only in fun and games, really… as though they are already sure that they are merely killing time until their parents can marry them off to (no need to hold your breath) engineers. Every year I think I am going to shut down those batches; every year just one or two gems in the muck keep me going – other than the money.

The most cynical among my well-wishers keep telling me that I am wasting my own time philosophizing and under-selling myself instead of making hay while the sun shines. ‘Just jack up your fees and sit back and watch the fun!’ they have been telling me for years; ‘those who abuse you will go on doing the same, those who are desperate to come here will pay whatever you ask, and about the rest, who cares, as long as you can get rich?’ Now that I am growing old and quite sure that I have a big market but must give up all hope of bringing about any social change for the better, should I finally decide to give them my ear and just ensure a cosy retirement for myself? I can go on at this seven-days-a-week rate for at most another ten years, after all!


Rajdeep said...


You are a "brand" now. People these days love brands.

It is a different matter what you have to give them or whether you are a great teacher or not.

Since you are a good teacher and some of your students will actually vouch for that, you don't need to bother too much because you are honestly providing the best service irrespective of the quality of students.

Except a few handful of countries, no one encourages art and all that stuff. Even some countries that have very high literacy rates but poor rate of higher education. Most of the students work in areas that are absolutely new to them and have no connection with their education. This keeps from fomenting discontent. It creates a docile middle class society blissfully "happy" in ignorance.

This is good for easy governance. It is no use making educated and critical adults who will question and shout for change. Also, a career in the arts cannot secure a job for many or may be an artist would spend half his life in a dingy factory trying to earn money to buy his colors. People usually take the easy way out. This is not to say that I recommend this. On the contrary, it is a brave thing that you have written about it.

Anyway, our country has never felicitated the great people you have mentioned in the way for example, some of our cricketers and film stars are!

You have already written about it in several of your previous posts on India, so it is mere repetition on my part. We find our cricketers more patriotic than our soldiers who defend us.

Few people have the courage to accept lifelong criticism from their family and friends. We have discussed many times that Vivekananda mocked Indians for wanting only a 30 rupee clerkship.

It only proves that having a few gadgets does not really make one modern or progressive. Many are yet to catch up with what some greats tried to teach us a 100 years ago!

Nivedita said...

This is such a hopeless case I don't even bother to rectify people when they go on the study-science-or-perish rant. I always liked the humanities more than maths, physics or chemistry. More than one mathematics teacher in school told my parents I never did well in their subject simply because I wouldn't practice, and not because I was a dumb fool. Some of those teachers were smart enough to understand that no one can be forced into liking a particular subject, and some were not. I still remember the mathematics genius from my neighbourhood (to his credit he did give me a much needed crash course before I took my ISC maths exams) in Durgapur discussed me with another friend when I was not present (word always gets around) and said something to the effect of "what's she going to do with English? Be a housewife? If only she practiced, she would have such a good career."
I have barely spoken to him since, not because being a housewife is a small task or what he said mattered, but because his understanding of careers seemed so limited to me that I just decided it was not worth wasting my breath.
Scary part? This boy, as a senior in school, was also coaching other young kids and knowingly or unknowingly feeding them the same flawed logic. He is now a reader (I think) in a local college, and I bet he is still doing the same.
My understanding is that most parents and students, at least in Bengal, do not KNOW that they can follow their hearts and still end up with jobs that will pay them decent money. That there are options beyond the Joint Entrance exams.
The logic is simple: if you do what you really want to do, then you are good at it. If you are good at what you do, you will be successful in your career --read, get promoted and make more money. After all, that is what these engineering and medical holy-grail chasers are looking for anyway, right?
The fun part is, I make more money than most friends who started their engineering careers with me. I am not gloating, I'm only stating it as a fact.
But having said all of this, I can totally understand the "pressure" a kid is under when it comes to making that life-altering decision of whether to pick science, arts, or commerce after standard 10. I should know. The me that always knew I would study English ended up wasting two years studying science in classes 11 and 12, simply because my ICSE results were far better than a lot of those who had decided to take up science. Logic being, if they can, why should I not? I got more marks!
No parental pressure, mind you. Just me and peer pressure.
So I suffered for two years, the only saving grace being the fact that the ISC board has the same English course for all three streams, so at least I did not lose out on that. I wish someone had stopped me at that time. Thankfully, I was there to guide my kid brother and stopped him from falling into the same trap. He studied commerce.
Now, when parents ask me if their kids should take up "science, or commerce, or humanities", I point out the obvious. That they are talking to someone who took up an honors degree in English after two years of studying advanced mind numbing theorems and equations that she had no interest in. Mind numbing for me, that is.

Arijit said...

Unluckily, My girlfriend an engineer has started envying me, after she came to know that I had somehow managed a job for myself.

Debotosh Chatterjee said...

Sir ,
Its nice to get back to your blog after such a long time . The ideas that you have expressed here are absolutely spot on ! I took some time to realise these things , and so i have ended up getting into an engineering college myself ! Like most other peers of mine , i was also 'brainwashed' to accept the "theory of superiority of engineering" over all other 'good' career options , very strongly . It was not until i started thinking myself after entering the college that i realised how much time in life i had wasted running after a so-called 'safe' and 'good' career called 'engineering' ! It amazes me to see how people change just after entering an engineering college - the same friends of mine who used to sing hosannas for engineering are nowadays complaining of 'frustration' in their lives , plainly because they don't like it ! This attitude , in itself , shows how ignorant most of us are before entering an engineering college , which is touted as the "gateway to the safest future on earth" by the Indian middle class! As you have said several times , sir , this is the typical 'herd' mentality and a kind of booby trap that i had failed to recognise for such a long time in my life !

Nishant Kamath said...

Dear Sir,

Some of the things you have mentioned in this post hold true in my case. I found a few subjects interesting in school and based on them, I just chose to get into science/engineering. Ever since I have been riding the tide, and in retrospect, I feel fortunate to have caught the right current.

Apart from a career in science (or at least the kind of science I do), the only other career I could have chosen is something in the line of culinary arts, given my love of experimenting and coming up with fairly decent stuff in the kitchen. Fortunately, all the decisions have been mine. Thanks to you, when I got into college, I knew right from the beginning that I should go for graduate studies. And I do not regret quitting my job after a couple of years to pursue a Ph.D. I am learning some good stuff here. The more maths courses I take, the more fascinated (or awed) I am by it. It's just amazing how the human brain could have come up with something so consistent and elegant. Perhaps it ranks next (or maybe at par, I don't know) to good music, art and literature in its beauty. But I am digressing.

I liked literature in school and I still like it. And since I don't have to memorise names and dates for a test, I like reading historical accounts as well. But I know for sure that I wouldn't have been able to make a career in literature. I am just not good in it. In any case I fail to understand the 'status' parents attach to a course or career in engineering. It might be easier to make a living (maybe, just about) by studying some engineering stream in some college. But then that is precisely the reason why there should be no prestige attached to it. It's a good thing none of my close friends thinks that way. I would probably only laugh at people who do. Maybe, in a different world, with a society like on one of the islands Gulliver visited, communicating through poetry is in vogue, and so people are crazy about getting a Bachelor's in literature.

Personally, your classes were always fun. And a person who could make history interesting (to me that is, since I was more ignorant then and didn't know the value of learning history) was someone to be taken seriously. I think it's nice that so many students are eager to join your class. As someone mentioned, you could make hay while the sun shines. And once you decide to retire, you could probably be way more selective about whom you want to tutor. You would probably have a lot more fun then since the students you decide to teach then would share the same values you want to instill in them.


Arijit said...

My sister just gave her ICSE exams. She was also wondering about what to choose? I gave her the advice to take up commerce. Just at that moment my father remarked " Tor dara to kichu holo na o ke ontoto science niye porte de. Jader dara kichu hoy na tara commerce niye pore" ( You couldn't do anything so let her choose science as worthless fellows take up commerce.)Funniest part he himself took up Economics as his subject.I think he has forgot about it. But I never get demoralized, one day I'll definitely show them what I can do.

Aakash said...

Dear Suvroda,

Drifting off the topic a bit, I wonder if many people saw the film Udaan. The film is set in Jamshedpur, an industrial town. The protagonist, a teenager, is a poet and refuses to become an engineer.

Many people watching the film in the cities, especially Delhi, didn't believe what they saw. But for the few of us coming from another industrial town, Durgapur, it struck a chord.

Over the years I've come to notice that this mad race for engineering is symptomatic of industrial towns. You'd be happy to know that there is not one engineer in my entire apartment complex (roughly 80 flats).

To cite another example, a colleague's seven-year-old daughter was asked to write a story in school. Not only did she write a story, but also illustrated it herself, and made it into a book! Cover, design, blurb, and all. I'm not sure I would have been able to do that at her age, or several others who learn English by rote from Wren and Martin (no disrespect to the two grammarians).

Industrial towns need to relook their education system. 'If you could only look at it through my eyes,' pleads the poet-protagonist to his father in Udaan.

With regards,


Suvro Chatterjee said...

Rajdeep, thanks. Maybe it's high time I started capitalizing fully on my 'brand'-value!

Arijit, hahaha! Good for you, and may you give that silly girlfriend more reason to grow jealous of you.

Nishant, as I have said often before, on the likes of you I pin my hopes. You didn't go in for science merely because everybody was doing it, and you are pursuing serious science at a high level, having chosen not to settle for a factory job with a mere bachelor's degree (BTEch), as the herd does. I wish more power to your elbow.

Aakash, you have hit the nail on the head. My tragedy is that I have had to live all my life in a typical one-horse small industrial town, where people never rub shoulders with really successful men, where the general manager of the factory ranks right after God!

I am deeply gratified that an old boy rang up from Mumbai on the Bengali New Year's Day to tell me that he has taken a printout of the line (in the fourth paragraph) which goes "the ideals... the merely rich" to read every day, so that it may remind him what it is worth living for. This is the kind of comment which makes hammering away at the keyboard worthwhile. Many thanks, Sandip.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I was heartened to hear today, from an acquaintance who is a lawyer with the Kolkata High Court, that his ex-mashtarmoshai, a retired professor of law, still in his early 70s makes 10-12,000 rupees a day from private tuition, which he still continues as a hobby long after he stopped needing money. Let those who still want to be engineers carry on, but I do hope that some young people will learn from me and the likes of this elderly teacher which way the bread is buttered!

Amit parag said...

Maybe thinking or reading or writing is just too much work for their fuzzy little unused brains.
On August 31, 1837, Emerson, in a speech at Harvard, pointed out the duties of a scholar. I quote a part of it:
You will hear every day the maxims of a low prudence. You will hear, that the first duty is to get land and money, place and name. 'What is this Truth you seek? what is this Beauty?' men will ask, with derision. If, nevertheless, God have called any of you to explore truth and beauty, be bold, be firm, be true. When you shall say, 'As others do, so will I: I renounce, I am sorry for it, my early visions; I must eat the good of the land, and let learning and romantic expectations go, until a more convenient season;'--then dies the man in you; then once more perish the buds of art, and poetry, and science, as they have died already in a thousand thousand men. The hour of that choice is the crisis of your history; and see that you hold yourself fast by the intellect.

santanu Chatterjee said...

There is nothing wrong with
people, i mean all and sundry,
wanting to be an engineer and
enter the IT/BPO sector as long as
I am called upon to train only a
miniscule of them after they pass
out and get a job. I am already
too tired and fatigued, getting
old i suppose.

Jokes apart, i think there are
several reasons why parents are
obsessed with the idea of
engineering. First, most of these
parents have grown up in the
pre-90 era when the only
respectable job, especially in an
industrial town like Durgapur,
available to anybody was that of
an engineer. So they have not yet
been able to come out of that
mindset. Second, it used to help
ensure a decent job with a
reasonable salary in a span of
just 4 years of study after 10+2,
whereas medical studies would have
taken far more times, which in
many cases would be out of reach
for lower middle class people.
Talk of any other profession, like
the one Ms. Nivedita has pursued,
requires a certain background and
socio-economic condition that is
out of reach for most paanwallahs
as you might have disdainfully
called. (You can become an
engineer by just being good at
physics, chemistry and mathematics
but not a media person.) For
example, if you wanted to be a
lawyer, it was imperative for you
to have a father who was one, same
was the situation in medicine
also. Same holds good with any
other service, be it defense or
civil service and of course
politics. I think i am just
parroting your words in case of
last three. And there is also a
cultural issue i think. For
example, the demand for a
government job is far higher in
states like Bihar and UP than the
job of an engineer, unless he is
employed with Tata. (I had a
classmate of mine from UP who got
a job in Hewlett Packard(HP) but
had to tell his in laws he was
working in HP(Hindustan

What I feel is this crave for
engineering degree will slowly
wean off once the issues of
current generation IT/BPO
employees will reach that age.
Already it has started showing
that sign with many of my
classmates, seniors leaving their
IT and engineering jobs for many
other offbeat career.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

A sociological phenomenon (as you have yourself more than half-acknowledged in your last paragraph) cannot be so easily explained, Santanu. Nivedita's father, for instance, has done a fairly humble job in a bank lifelong, and she did her higher studies on a loan which she is herself paying off now. The Indian middle class obsession with combining (an often imaginary-)'status' with security with ease of workload is still playing a powerful role here, as for example with parents who cannot imagine their educated children becoming teachers, despite knowing that many teachers make far more than any engineer they know (that includes me, too). And I notice that you have avoided addressing several issues I had raised, such as why these parents say their children must go for engineering since they are only mediocre, and then turn around and boast about the same kids' 'talents' and 'success'...!

santanu Chatterjee said...

True, but I think what I have written helps a bit in explaining the reason behind the craze. Definitely a social phenomenon cannot be explained so easily. For example one point that I had missed was the US universities accepted only four years degree course for their MS course and going to US for a degree is still a craze.
Or else, we had to do a five years degree. There are many such reason - some obvious and some not so obvious - that had culminated in this all out craze.
Yes, parents are to blame. But in Indian scenario it is still unthinkable to ask one's son or daughter what he or she wants to become and groom them accordingly. So, the parents do not exactly take pride because their son has become an engineer but because their dreams have been realized. And that is where the arrogance of these parents are bred. Whether their sons are whining or treated in a pathetic manner by managers or clients do not really matter to them. They still are living in that era when a job meant security, a B.E. degree meant status and so on. And that is one of the main reasons why we see so many of engineers change profession.
Last but not the least, engineering colleges do not produce even mechanics anymore. What they produce is a gibberish if you look at my first paragraph. In fact it is so bad that SME-s are finding very difficult to run companies. As far as giants are concerned, they are shifting their business model in India. Recent study of NASSCOM showed only 15% engineers are employable.
PS:@Nivedita, this was nothing personal. it is just that i happened to take up an example without spending much effort. I wish you all the best. I hope my comment does not discourage you from writing in this blog.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I note from the comments that have come in so far that only one female has bothered to write in, and not one has written anything personal, sympathetic and encouraging to me directly in response to the last paragraph. Tells me even more strongly about how much I should bother about women's opinion of me!

Sayan Datta said...

Of course you know this already and much better than I do, but I couldn't contain myself from saying it nonetheless – the people who set the papers of entrance exams for the various engineering colleges and the coaching institutes who prepare students for these exams are hell-bent on creating robots! They create calculators who are programmed to ace a particular type of multiple choice exam structured in a certain way, no more! Our students are not taught to think logically, to conceptualize, to visualize, to imagine and most importantly to read outside the syllabus. What a huge waste, Sir! It would have been funny had it not been equally sad that so many people pay through their noses to make their children only calculating machines. I can't even count Sir, how many of my students do not even know how to laugh! Even when some of them do laugh, I find it funny, and yes sometimes even sad and sometimes horribly frustrating that they found the thing they are laughing about, funny! They are robots, Sir...zombies...You give them an order, they will do the needful, as long as it doesn't involve thinking... I sometimes wonder Sir, if this is not a vicious circle, what is?
Sayan Datta

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I know, Sayan. As Santanu confirms in a comment above (and he's been giving on-the-job training to young engineers for some time now), the kind of people which the engineering colleges have been turning out of late beggar description. The tide will turn, I am sure, but things will first have to get a lot worse: we shall have to wait until it becomes public knowledge.

By the way, there's that joke about what is worse than finding a worm in your apple, and the answer is 'finding half a worm'. Has it ever occurred to you that the only thing that can be worse than an illiterate engineer is an engineer with pretensions to intellectualism? I know there are some engineers around still with real brains and consciences (you meet a few on this forum itself), but the number who belong to the earlier category is far larger, I assure you: engineers who know all about politics, and economics and drugs and movies and music and what have you, and consider themselves sufficiently equipped to hold forth on every subject under the sun, classic Bangali 'rockbaaj' style...

Chandan said...

Nice post sir (Nivedita forwarded me the link to your post)

It starts at the school with segregation of students into different disciplines based on marks. Students with higher marks are expected to go into science sections. The schools have promoted the "science-is-superior" to such an extent that it has become the golden light that all the flies flock towards... and then the obvious happens. When you think about it, why do section A,B,C always have to be Engineering sections in the school? Followed by Biology, then others (I don't even remember the order after that because it was all lumped together in my mind).
Before I could realize that I had an option to choose my discipline, I was in an Engineering college. And I must mention that my parents were never like "oh our son has to be an engineer and our daughter has to be a doctor." They never cared about what the neighbors or friends would think. But funny thing is that despite their open mindset, that's what I and my sister ended up becoming! They always told us - follow your heart and money will come automatically if you are good at what you are doing. I thought I was following my heart and engineering is what I wanted. Then I got a job in the "IT industry" that you have defined so perfectly. I spent 3 years doing that mindless work before I called it quits.
I feel that the problem is not related to engineering. I really loved it (and still do). But the problem is how it is interpreted in India. The Indian IT industry that employs most of the engineers thrives on maintenance work. The R&D and primary development work happens in US, UK or Europe. Our IT industry then looks after this cooked meal and prevents it from expiring. Is anyone happy working there? No. But it pays more than the other fields (at least initially). So it boils down to trading off your happiness with that initial glitter of big paychecks. And people prefer the paychecks. Why? I thin it's because we love the inertia of life so much that it's very hard to break it. By the time a boy or girl graduates from college and gets a job, his/her parents are towards the end of their careers (if not retired). I think this is the case with most of the middle class families in India. Since most/all of the savings have been spent on the education of the kid, the parents depend on their kid to earn and run the home. So those initial glitters look very very lucrative because one can pay off the education loan quickly and start running the home. Then marriage happens, then kids and then the rest of the cycle repeats. So there's no incentive for breaking this inertia. It's also a matter of perception, I believe. The swanky new IT offices look way cooler than workplaces of other disciplines. That definitely attracted me before I realized that those shiny glass buildings are a cover-up for brainless stuff happening inside.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you for writing, Chandan.

I blame the herd instinct far more than anything else. Whether it is the parental herd or the peer-group herd, it makes little difference.

Maybe you will understand my sadness and sense of futility a little better if I tell you that not one ex-student of mine (I have several thousands!) has ended up as a judge, an IAS officer, or a teacher or writer of repute, and I have been teaching for 33 years now...