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Talha ul Huda

Before you jump to the conclusion that I’ve attempted the exam, failed and am now spewing venom out of bitterness, let me clarify: It’s not true. Now I need to elaborate. Jumping to conclusions seems to be our national sport, let’s play a little cautious.

This week, Advocate Saif Ur Rehman, a prodigy of a younger generation of Pakistanis, who has yet to appear in the CSS exams, was granted his plea of conducting the CSS exams in Urdu from the year 2018. The orders were passed by Justice Atir Mehmood of the Lahore High Court. A similar directive was passed by the Supreme Court in 2015 and the advocate had pled the LHC to order compliance with the Supreme Court’s earlier directive.

Advocate Saif Ur Rehman, prodigy of a younger generation of Pakistanis, who has yet to appear in the CSS exams, was granted his plea of conducting the CSS exams in Urdu from the year 2018

All said and done; Civil Superior Services exams (fun fact: CSS exams 2016 had a 5 % passing ratio) are going to be conducted in Urdu next year onwards. Since the Pakistani Higher Education, most of the secondary and primary education medium is English; there is no tangible way in the world that this could mean well for the next 5 percent that were hoping to get through in 2018. So apparently for them now there’s a closed door; irrespective of the genius of nation’s latest prodigy, or the majesty of its judicial vision, or what kind of civil services we will have, let’s get to why it’s good riddance.

Growing up in a moderate household and the clichéd Pakistani social system, with all its constrictions and taboos, there is none worse for a youngster than the absolute sin of pursuing your own interests or playing to your strengths. For societies that dictate their choices to produce dysfunctional and suppressed new generations, there are far too few ways of “respectable life”, very few respectable careers and absolutely zero growth in every other profession in the world.

Prestigious careers in Pakistan

The Pakistani Society, over the past several decades, has divided conventional professions into many tiers:

The criterion for intellect, dear diary, is a white robe or an engineering degree – or may be MBA from LUMS or IBA. Following this statement, art observes a moment of silence.

The most socially respectable profession for an average Pakistani is medicine and there has never been a rival to that. Next up is engineering; with the diversification and progression that this field has encountered, becoming an engineer is now an easier choice to make. And in case a student has not been able to make it to these two essentials, there is always the rescue plan: Civil Services.

Every other profession in the world is second tier (unless you’re abroad, that saves face). Mediocre students that need to stabilize themselves under the shelf of misplaced patriotism opt for the armed forces.

The privileged few can go abroad and choose to live life and pick professions on their own terms, creating awe back home; as to how they managed to score a place in a foreign university, leaving their parents to suffer in silence, paying fortunes in lieu of social acceptance.

The professions that are left to pursue after these select few clichés, in society’s collective mind, have the markings of a dull and mundane mind. The criterion for intellect, dear diary, is a white robe or an engineering degree – or maybe MBA from LUMS or IBA. Following this statement, art observes a moment of silence. And let’s not fool ourselves with the modernization of a few cities and the pop culture seeping into 2 percent population. We are still at a 30:70 rural to urban ratio and the 70 percent rural population stands in testimony to all the above-mentioned ills.

Asymmetrical talent pool 

Bid farewell to the CSS, fall back and pick up your paint and brush. Become the architect that you’ve always secretly admired. You know you have singing chords in your throat but you’ve never plucked the courage to sing.

This division of labor, this hierarchy of perceived talent, on the basis of this inexplicable code of social stature (inexplicable due to the fact that this system has never made any sense) has destroyed millions of hopes and killed innumerable potential artists. When I say fact, I say that with reasoned confidence. Scattered statistics show that 300 students kill themselves annually in Pakistan over failed academic pursuits. 81 Percent people in Pakistan are not in professions that they initially wanted to pursue and it does not take a genius to connect the dots between these numbers and my rants above.

Let’s not curse professions for this mess. Let’s not diagnose this incorrectly and eliminate the wrong root. Let’s not debate over the sanctity of medicine and how the writer is hurling his own failures in life at the masses that have spent years in the strife of wearing a white coat to please their elders. Did the last three words catch your attention?

Stop suppressing your interests and ambitions in pursuit of societal approval. Bid farewell to the CSS, fall back and pick up your paint and brush. Become the architect that you’ve always secretly admired. You know you have singing chords in your throat but you’ve never plucked the courage to sing. You know you want to go into the police and set things straight, but you don’t want to listen to how misplaced your ambitions are. You know you want to design furniture, but you’ve never had the courage to face the “harsh realities of life” as the term goes. You’ve never been able to escape the gags and ropes of family traditions. Time to end that, don’t you agree?

The market in the beginning of the 21st century – with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and all that – will respect those who offer something new; for that, you will have to dare to be different.

Talha ul Huda is a young Content Producer, Current Affairs, with Dunya News in Islamabad.

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