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Why this Kolaveri?

27th February 2015 | George Mathew

STOP! This is not an article about the latest rage in Indian music. Rather it’s a call – a call to action… in fact, a desperate call.
Let me start with a story. This is about a friend of mine – lets call him John. He is a year older than me and now a very successful corporate executive with one of the leading credit card/travel companies in the world. But life was not so rosy till about a few years back.
His story goes back to the time when we were kids. John was the elder of 2 children. His younger sister was a good 6 years younger than him and a studious student. He was just the opposite. His father, a mechanical engineer, was a very intelligent contractor and a wealthy man.
Since childhood, John never understood science. He was wired differently. He could not even figure out which hemisphere the Indian sub-continent was in! That is not to say that he had any learning issues. No. He just dint care about things like that. But he could dole out any amount of statistics about cars, bikes, trucks, trains, planes… basically any thing on wheels!
And he was a great (and I mean insanely great) salesman! He could show you a rickety auto rickshaw and sell it to you as the latest model Benz S Class! I am not kidding here, seriously! Oh, the number of times he has talked me, a teetotaler, into driving him and his friends to clubs, waiting for them in the sidelines till dawn and then drive back home, all of them in total intoxicated state sometimes even vomiting all over the car.
Anyway, the point is,John was never meant to be an engineer like his father. He was of a different breed. But sadly, no one noticed or gave a damn about his feelings or about what he wanted to do in life. He was forced to opt for science stream so that he could take up engineering studies. To make matters worse, during his Grade 12 year, his father passed away quiet suddenly. At the end of it, Johndid not clear his chemistry paper in the final CBSE board exam and had to repeat the exam at a later stage.
As is expected, all this put a huge strain on John and his remaining family consisting of his sister in primary school and an unemployed mother. It took a lot of effort to rally around him when almost everyone gave up deeming him a failure and a virtually making him a social outcast. He did appear for the chem. Paper and finally manage to pass it.
As soon as this was over, John was whisked away to Bangalore by his maternal uncle and enrolled for the commerce stream. By this time, he had developed a fiercely independent nature and except for his college fees, he earned his pocket money. Times were tough, but he prevailed and earned more than money… he earned our respect as well.
After completing his B.Com degree, he took a great risk, much to the amazement, frustration and disagreement of all the elders in the family. He took up his AIATA studies. The only people to stand by him were us –his friends. By then, we had begun to trust and admire his free spirited will and judgment.
After successfully completing his first stage of the AIATA course and working for the mandatory 6 months in a travel firm, he migrated for 2 years to a Dubai based travel firm where he did so exceptionally well in customer service and sales that the company promised to send him for the further 2 stages, provided he give them an assurance by a gentleman’s word that he would stay with them a further 3 years after the courses.
What would most people have done? They would have taken up on the offer, and probably left the company when they got better offers. But he thought about the offer. He knew that without the training he was stuck at a certain stage in his career, but if he agreed to the training he would be morally obliged to the company for a lot more than just the 2 years that they asked for. He listened to his heart and took a bold step and resigned!!
Within 2 months he was back home without a job in hand. But as they say, “Fortune favours the brave”. He got a call from a leading credit card company to join their Business Travel team. He took up on the offer and has never needed to look back again! The first year of joining the company, John was selected as the Best sales and service executive in the Asia Pacific region, which includes Indian subcontinent, China, Singapore, Japan and Australia!
So why have I been rambling on for all this while? Well, even today, I find that parents want their children to be either Doctor or Engineers. The shocking bit is that these are parents, who just a decade or so ago were subject to the same type of mental torture that John went through! Luckily for John, things turned out fine mostly because of his sheer determination and hard work to break the mould and succeed. But there are umpteen untold stories of children whose dreams… and careers have been crushed due to this myopic view on life.Have we not heard so many stories of children breaking down or worse,committing suicide because of this pressure cooker mindset?
The world, and India in particular, has changed a lot in the last 2 decades. No longer is it nearly impossible for people in the arts and social streams to make a career for themselves. It’s still difficult, but not impossible. I believe that if that is someone’s passion, then they will go on to making a successful career out of it.
In today’s consumer driven world, it is not enough for a product or service to be functional, it is equally important how it is presented, the styling, the ergonomics. This is true in the case of automobiles or computers or highend electronic gadgets. Tell me, would any of you buy an Ambassador or a Fiat Premier Padmini nowadays (except for maybe antique buffs!)?
Take the case of movies or music or photography. A lot more critically acclaimed movies, music and photos spread thru the internet and are shot , believe it or not, on mobile cameras than the commercial flops that we see around us.
For a society, a culture, a nation to grow, evolve and flourish, it is not enough that it has doctors and engineers. Rather it requires a plethora of trades and careers to hold hands and steam ahead in unison. We need arts, commerce and socio-economic universities as much as we require science and engineering universities.
Please parents, open your eyes, open your hearts, open your minds…let your children decide what they want to be in life. Let them spread their wings and fly. Urge them, cajole them, coerce them but only to try and be the best in their chosen field. Trust that things will work out at the end… for that is all we have at the end of it… a trust, even if you force them to do something they don’t want to do in life.
So, Why this Kolavari (Urge to kill their dreams)… dear parents?

(Mr. George Mathew is the CEO of a new-age preschool chain based at Trivandrum called “The Wonder Years Preschool”. The author is a researcher on child development and can be contacted at For more details please visit

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