Careers in Sikkim: The choices we have and the choices we make

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Courtesy: www.npr.org

Introduction
Sikkim is growing in terms of intellectual wealth at a very fast pace. So are aspirations and ambitions. Yet the harsh reality of not living in the Indian heartland and with a small population here is the dearth of opportunities and spaces for having a healthy source of income. Being in touch with the youth I find that most of these youngsters aspire for a government job or start a homestay or a hotel or a restaurant or maybe a taxi service. Well, that is it. One often wonders as to why they do not think beyond it. The answer could be many, but one of the main reasons is our geographical conditions which do not allow us to experiment with other career opportunities.
I really find it quite amazing when a person trained in some skill ends up doing something different from their vocation. It is heartening when a research scholar runs a successful news portal or even when an engineering graduate starts organic farming. Similar is the case when a doctor gives up her job to become a homemaker and now a homestay owner and a hotelier. These are informed decisions they have taken for themselves and each one does excellent in their own domain. On one hand, I really feel that it’s good that all these people are living their dreams and passion yet, on the other hand, I also feel that if all these people could have taken these decisions earlier, then they could have trained themselves much better and could have been more successful even quicker.

What sets them apart?
I often meet a lot of children during various children activities or in social gatherings and being an academic, my common question to them is, what they would like to become. Some of them give the obvious doctor, engineer or businessman stuff whereas, some want to become a CID inspector (Possibly due to the CID teleserial), some want to become an astrophysicist and go into space or even a marine biologist. The next question again is very obvious. How or what would they do to make their dream become a reality? The question then makes them a bit dizzy. The answer is difficult even for them to comprehend.
When I ask the same questions to students in say Delhi or Mumbai, they actually answer the second part of the question too. This makes me wonder as to how or why they are able to answer. Most of the times they refer to some relative or parents or their teacher or maybe even a school trip to one of these specialised institutes. Many say that they found out by googling these questions. Whether they achieve their dreams or not is secondary, but the fact that they know how to go about talks volumes about their quest for achieving something in life.

The Herd syndrome
Most of the times children are lured into taking subjects just for the heck of it. Many children go to Bangalore, Delhi or Pune for college studies, just because their friends have gone there. For them, studying in these cities is more than enough rather than the course or the college they are admitted to. In the majority of these cases, the students also take up courses like Biotechnology, BBA or Biochemistry at a graduate-level just because it is the ‘in’ thing, not knowing why or what they would like to do by studying such courses.
The new world has thrown up a host of opportunities for the youngsters, but most of the times they do not follow their call and end up doing something just because many of their friends and cousins are doing it.

Some Suggestions:
Schools and colleges (imparting general courses) should set up career guidance and career-oriented counselling centres. It does not take much to do so. Probably a group of teachers from different subjects could form a group and conduct counselling sessions for the children. A little googling could help them to update their knowledge and help them disseminate their knowledge about various courses. Maybe they could have a designated day in a week where they could address the students on specific courses during the assembly session.
Class 8, 9 and 11 are the time when children require maximum counselling and set their goals. The focused ones, of course, would start early but in general, maximum of the students would still be grappling with what they would like to do in future. At that age, you would hardly find anyone looking out for a government job and perhaps that is the time when a seed could be planted in their mind so that they could start thinking on those lines.

Conclusion
It is important that children do what they would want to do. Most of the times they end up studying the wrong subject and then regret or struggle all through their life. The right choice of career could often lead a child to have a fruitful and satisfactory life.
I know a person who was just a graduate but his only dream was to do bird watching. He would be immersed in reading books, habitats and listening to recorded calls of birds all the time. Today he is successful as an avid bird watcher (even more knowledgeable than the academic fraternity) and a birding guide. He earns handsomely in every trip that he takes up and has now even established a homestay for birders in the village (which caters mostly to well-paying foreign tourists) so as to increase his income. It is heartening to such success stories.
There are enormous possibilities – it is only for these young minds to know their dreams and stay focused. The globalised world has brought down physical boundaries. It is now an open space for each one to try and give in their best. The world to win should not be a distant dream now.

By Satyadeep S Chettri. The writer is a regular columnist and can be contacted at satyazworld@gmail.com )

NB: Views/Opinions expressed in the article or write up is purely of the author or writer. For any queries or contradictions, the author can be contacted in his/her email id.

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