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She wants to be a Doctor

April 19, 2011

Here is a small conversation I had with an Auto Rickshaw driver somewhere in Mcleodganj (above Dharamshala) in HP. I shared with him my cooked/uncooked thoughts on education… 

Me: Bhaiya, I have to go to Tibetan Library. How much would it cost from here?

He: Rupees 130 from here.

Me: 130 is too much. Please tell me the right price.

He: 130 is right Sir. From here to Mcleodgunj it costs 60 and from there to library 70. The rates are fixed Sirji. We do not get much margin here. Why would i charge more from you?

Me: Hmm.. ok lets go (I sat in Auto)

After sometime

He: Where are you from Sirji? Did you like it here?

Me: This is too good a place. cold and nice.. pure air.. pure water. I come from Delhi. Have you been to Delhi?

He: Yes, I have been to Delhi, so crowded, by God. But Sirji, though this place is nice, it is difficult to earn your living here. I do not get much driving auto here.

Me: Yes, but why do you need much here? everything here also costs less – food, clothing everything can be procured locally and would cost less right.. and if you live a simple life then it should be ok. Nahi?

He: That and all is alright Sirji.. but what about education?

Me: What about education?

He: My daughter, her education, and then her younger brother, his.

Me: What is your daughter doing?

He: She is very bright, very intelligent and has just completed her class 12. She topped in 12 in her school and wants to become doctor. The idea of curing people of diseases, working for them excites her.

Me: You are very lucky. You have a lovely daughter, who not only knows what she wants to do but really knows why too (I said with a smile, trying to recall if I have/had any clue why i did engineering).. So whats the issue (I asked again, realizing what the problem was). You should be happy..

He: Yes ji, I am also proud of her and want her to do well. She wants to do MBBS and has reluctantly agreed to appear for the exams. I hope she gets selected. The fees is 3-4 Lac. I do not know where to get that from. I have no savings and would have to take a loan from someone to pay her fees. Will try and manage somehow.

I started thinking about how inaccessible today’s education (training as I see it) has become for people

Me: Why reluctantly? She does not want to write as she feels she will create more burden for you, is it?

He: Yes, exactly. We convinced her to go ahead and at least write the exam.

Me: Bhaiya tell me one thing. Is your daughter more interested in getting a MBBS degree or treating people out of their illnesses.

He: Be a doctor, treat people and work for them. MBBS to karna hi padega na.

Me: I don’t think so. Being a doctor and doing MBBS are not completely correlated. I would ask you and her to earnestly explore many other options.

He: What options?

Me: Well many, why only go for one pathy (allopathy)… why not homeopathy? why not naturopathy? why not ayurveda? why not alternative healing techniques? And these would not even cost you a lot.

He: Oh! I did not know. I will try and find out. Can she learn all that and still become a doctor.

Me: Yes I believe she can do very well. Doctor is not synonymous to MBBS. But sadly that is what it has become today (And reasons were several, big pharma companies.. I started thinking about it)

He: Haan ji, In our days we had a vaid in our village. He used to give us herbs etc.

Me: Haan, aren’t hakims doctors? Are vaid not doctors? But all that is getting lost na. If you take loan of 3-4 lacs to teach her, she will have to concentrate on paying back the loan for a few years after getting the degree. With that kind of financial burden many are not able to focus on the work and sometimes get involved or close their eyes to unethical practices.

It is too noble a job and patient can not repay just by giving money, I thought.

He: It is sad that education today is becoming so costly. She would spend her prime years just repaying the loan. And I do not even know how people like me (or the farmers from villages) would get so much money.

Me: True, but let me tell you, your situation is not so bad. Today good management programs in India cost more than 10-15L and abroad they would cost you more than 50L sometimes even 1Cr. And to be be someone in the market you ought to have these degrees. So 3-4 Lac is still ok (I said with a smile).

He: Good that she wants to become a doctor and not a manager (he said jokingly)

We laughed

He: Earlier it was nice. I still rely mostly on natural things like diet and all for my body. I rarely go to allopathy doctor to get pills. But where can she learn that?

Me: Yes of course she can. She not only can learn that, but can help revive that, pioneer it again in this area. One thing no one can deny is that she loves curing people. She could learn many different healing techniques and then practice with someone to hone her skills. She can then also delve into naturopathy, and other healing skills and learn from various mentors or do some courses. I can bet that if she is good at all this people will flock to her and she is bound to do well. You know of a doctor Bharat Shah from Baroda? He practices Naturopathy and people go to him from all over the world. He could also help her sometime later.

He: This all sounds very nice. I will explore all these for her too and if she likes will take that path. Thank you so much for sharing these things.. My daughter had refused to go for the degree seeing the problems. Now I see another way out. I will explore it also.

Me: It was my pleasure. I hope she becomes a famous doctor, one who is respected and loved by all, one who is not there just to make money but to offer her services for others benefit alone. All the best. Hope to see you again

I paid him 130 and started walking towards the library… feeling good but slightly uneasy and unsure…

29 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2011 21:14

    This is a very interesting point.In fact I shared a similiar experience recently.I am touched by the intensity of your thoughts and regret that we couldnt interact more closely at BIR.
    This is a clear case of Paradigm shift.I do realise that many students in the illusionary context of the better life ahead are prone to huge brden of education loans like MBAs and they lose out many precious years in repayment or hiding from the bank or lenders due to lack of proper income to manage the debts.

    I will strongly take this matter up in my projects while doing career counselling.

    Thank you for sharing this with us


  2. luvy permalink
    April 19, 2011 23:01

    Seriously, very interesting conversation you had ! people really don’t know the other way out.. and some who even know , don’t dare to tread on them ! but it is our responsibility to at least make them aware of what is happening out there , in over expensive college education and in loans plummeting banks !!we should be positive with this practice , rest is still on them 🙂


    • April 20, 2011 09:21

      @ Kishore ji – Thank you. And I hope we get a lot more opportunities to interact and meet.
      @ luvy – thanks yaar.. waise ab to banks are coming up with loans for schools also (don’t worry if the schools are charging a lot from you, and u do not have capacity, we will pay you the loan)


  3. Popa permalink
    April 20, 2011 03:36

    Nice… on a different note… call up my dad sometime.. since you are also in the education sector, you might be interested to talk to him… mom and he are associated with an organization to identify talent in girls in school… ill email you his number and email id in case you are intersted.. let me know


    • April 20, 2011 09:15

      haan yaar, for sure. though i think it will be better for me to meet them in person.. have to go to chandigarh sometime soon, so will also try and meet them. tu contact mail kar de.


  4. April 20, 2011 06:18

    1 crore for MBA ..if I have 1 crore then why would i want to do an MBA 😛 ..Some may say that to get another 10 but then if you can earn 1 without MBA why not 10 more unless it is your parent’s money that you are spending


    • April 20, 2011 09:16

      coz after MBA you can make 10 in the same time you made 1 dude… time value of money mat bhoolo tum 😀


  5. April 20, 2011 10:32

    Dear Amit,

    Thanks for orienating him for the alternatives. She (and anybody else) is welcome here if she chooses to explore naturopathy!!


    • April 20, 2011 12:13

      Sir, Thank you for replying and the support 🙂 Hope to visit your place sometime soon.


  6. April 20, 2011 13:09

    Dear Amit,
    I so love what you did. It is in little ways -that we sometimes do no understand ourselves- that we help people, touch their lives. In smiles, in words… You did something that came from deep within you, and a need to help another being. I applaud that. I can understand you feeling unsure at the end… 🙂 Sometimes our ‘wisdom’ originates so magically and so simply.. it leaves us wondering… maybe that is what you felt?
    You interaction reaffirms the hope that the conference gave me. thank you.
    much love


    • April 20, 2011 14:00

      Joanita, thnks for the kind words.. A friend has beautifully put what could have made me feel uneasy –
      She might learn all that, but would she be actually be able to sustain herself? Especially since no such encouragement exists in our educational system, and also from people.

      So yes, i think this was the doubt. When you start to do something which is slightly against the flow, then you are encountered with many difficulties. My uneasiness was, will she be able to survive the struggle she *might* have to face..


  7. April 20, 2011 13:58

    I am still not aware of the options the daughter has.
    Are ayurved and homeopathy taught/practiced well anywhere?


    • April 20, 2011 15:12

      In Naturopathy you can learn so much by doing, Ayurveda there are teachers in certain villages (called Gunis, in Rajasthan) who have been practicing the traditional medical science even till now. One can learn from them. I am sure there are many such people across the country where one can learn.

      And within the educational system and certificates also, Homeopath – yes you can do courses and learn. Same for Ayurveda, you have several courses offered where you can get degrees.

      I am sure doctors who are practicing it right now (like Dr. Bharat Shah) could throw more light on this (and details)


  8. Urmila Samson permalink
    April 20, 2011 20:47

    I’m impressed, Amit. Mainly, because I get these thoughts many times, but get uneasy before speaking them. I openly tell people who ask, but shy away from talking to any and everyone. You have given me courage!

    Bharat, I’m coming too!


  9. Sree permalink
    April 20, 2011 22:29

    Hey Amit,

    I really liked the conversation, especially the part where he says “Will try and manage somehow.” Both father and daughter are ready to sacrifice for each other which is both heart-warming and saddening. I understand your feeling of uneasiness but hopefully you’ve sown two important seeds — to look for alternative paths, and to focus on the real objective.

    All the best!


  10. April 20, 2011 23:04

    @ Urmilla ji – So I should start doing it often 😛
    @ Sree – By breaking it down to 2 seeds, you have actually brought clarity to my thoughts.. thnks.. hope you are doing good.. lemme know wen u in india


  11. shiwa permalink
    April 21, 2011 13:57

    hey Amit,

    what touched me about the conversation is the compassion which you were able to manifest(even when you didnot know the situation/person involved too well).also like we discussed the other day one virtue which people should practise is ‘sharing’ in true sense!


  12. Manasi permalink
    April 21, 2011 22:20

    Hi Amit,
    I really loved reading this. I feel I have a lot to learn from your great listening skills and the tentativeness and understang you approached this conversation with. (I just got out of a heated debate with my dad about the complaceny of the middle class.. can’t say it went too well 🙂
    Did you happen to get the contact details of the auto driver? if he wants perhaps you could even connect him to people that his daughter can learn from.


    • April 21, 2011 23:59

      @ Manasi – Incidentally I also just now got out of a (not so) heated debate with my dad.. def did not go too well… Had you been a witness to the same, you would not have ascribed the above attributes to me 🙂
      No I did not take/give contact. However, I am going back to Bir/McL again in May so would be meeting him again and if required do the needful


  13. Pranoy permalink
    April 22, 2011 13:27

    I think everyone above has said what i wanted to say. Yes doubts will suppress you and so would sometimes other people, for it is a struggle, it always have been, fighting for right thing, seeing what is wrong. You saw and you acted. I would encourage you to do it again and again and tell myself to learn from you.


  14. Rihana permalink
    April 22, 2011 16:54

    Wow! This piece was quite informative for me too. So many avenues, so much to explore 🙂


  15. Pallavi Prabha permalink
    April 23, 2011 12:21

    Realistic….very much doable….wish we had these thought patterns when we were first approaching our careers….very thoughtful and insightful…. 🙂


  16. April 23, 2011 12:39

    A couple of things struck me, one fairly obvious, the other, not so obvious.

    1. The point you raise about “having a degree” to enter the market is unfortunate, though I don’t really see how this can be avoided in the near future. I think we were seriously lucky to have had access to possibly the best and cheapest education in the country, no ?

    2. Living in the “country side economy” and having to pay for “urban services” is grossly unfair. We often speak about purchasing power parity between say India and the US. If you earn a decent salary in India and convert it to USD, you’d be hard pressed to make ends meet because “everything is so expensive”. The same holds here, right ? Think of the village as India and Delhi as New York. There’s no way you can afford an urban service (MBBS) on a small town salary. Now, this observation itself is not very original. But, it makes sense for such a differential to exist between India and the US – they’re separate economic entities. But for such a gross differential to exist WITHIN a country must go against some directive principle in the constitution, right ?

    The right to have access to credit facilities aimed at giving you a foothold on the ladder to economic prosperity is a desperate need and I’d contend that it might possibly be more effective in pulling the rural populace out of poverty than microcredit agricultural loans.


    • April 23, 2011 14:57

      @ Shatajit – Let me share with you my views on the points you have raised –

      1. Degrees are fine, if they are a form of a approval that is required. Even a Guni (our old ayurvedic masters) would approve of a disciple before letting him/her perform. I have started to feel that alternatives should be explored more (In field of health it is sad that pathies such as ayurveda today has become an alternative).

      2. Yes, well if we are talking about the cause of this increasing disparity there are many. The disparity today has increased to an extent of being vulgur, where some are millionaires and many are falling below poverty line every single day. One of the reason I see is the education system: The purpose of education today is being directly corelated to your income generation capacity and nothing else. Things like values, morals, ethics are evaporating, they are not being given importance in today’s system. All that counts is profit maximization, shareholder’s worth (even for a private hospital) and income I generate. As I have written in one of the other entry, in such a society devoid of morals can happiness be delivered to one and all?

      And so therfore I see growing problems in urban space too. I see the solution is to slow down the burning race towards more money and power and a lifestyle that copies american consumerism pattern which would leave resources for many others. I feel the solution is to be more compassionate, develop more community feeling (then individualistic mindset), helping each other more and giving importance to co-dependence. Yes, giving credit to so called poor is also important, if it bi-product of compassion that you have. We should not do it in order to pull them also into the race.

      There are many more points i would have liked to raise but this is the crude, uncooked gist from my side..


  17. April 23, 2011 13:03

    @ Pranoy, Rihana and Pallavi – thanks for encouraging words.. yes we ought to discover new paths and avenues (some from the history (cultures) and some purely out of creativity) and should not be bound by the system (not that all should strive to break out of the system)


  18. April 26, 2011 07:09

    hey .. been reading your blog for while now …. nice point you made to the driver 🙂 nice post 🙂
    btw .. enable complete feed in the RSS options .. I read it on google reader and sometime I forget to move to another tab to after clicking the link.


    • April 26, 2011 12:05

      hey, hope all is going great for you 🙂 regarding rss options, i did something (some change) and am not sure if that is what u were pointing to.. see and let me know..


  19. April 29, 2011 01:46

    Very impressive Amit. Going to share this on my facebook. I hope you meet him or his daughter again few years down the lane and hear them say that she is not the MBBS doctor but the other kind that you mentioned.

    Hope you took his number ???


    • May 3, 2011 15:07

      🙂 ha ha, yeah I hope I do. No, I did not take his number. I hope to see him again, will be going back to McL for sometime soon..


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