If you ask students from the Subcontinent about their ambitions in life, you will likely get only one answer – they want to be engineers or doctors. Why is India obsessed with science-related fields?

Today’s professional pay scale has encouraged several parents to force their children to study science subjects, believing that graduates in engineering and medicine are paid well. Sadly, we are also living in a world where unemployment is more common than high salaries.

In several Indian families, tradition has found a way to interfere in children’s career choices. But only a few parents analyse whether their children have the capacity to study science or if they have the passion and dedication to become an engineer or doctor. This lack of analysis often leads to science students switching careers at some point, and moving into finance or media studies.

What if a student has no interest in science? Many parents clear the air by saying that their children would study commerce after grades 11 and 12, but what they need to understand is that their decision may lead their child to miss out on achieving top marks in grade 12. For instance, if an uninterested child studies science, he might only get 80 per cent, while he could have achieved 95 per cent in commerce, which could widely influence his chances of admission in the world’s most prestigious universities.

It is true that in India, many students first complete engineering and medical degrees, and then decide what they want to do in life. When students eventually realise they have had a change of heart and want to study something else, they face several drawbacks, like the wastage of time, effort and most importantly, money. Everyone knows how expensive a medical degree can be for parents.

India has reached a stage where if a child chooses any course other than something in science-related fields, parents feel that the child is taking an easy way out and is running away from struggles in life. What they don’t understand is that their children are just saving them money, which would otherwise be spent in pursuing a degree that they are not really passionate about.

A profession should be chosen not on the basis of family pride, tradition or any other basis, but instead, on the basis of one’s capacity and dedication.

The reader is a grade 11 student at the Indian High School, Dubai.