Saturday, February 13, 2010

Profession or Vocation - A choice?

In the present 'competitive world', where competition is glorified by the corporate(a majority of who's who) and abhorred vocally by few (comprising of artists, intellectuals, etc.,) I represent the mindset of a person belonging to the bourgeois class of an ostensible egalitarian society who is neither fully equipped to sift the fantasy of being inundated in the carnal pleasures from the true joy of leading a contented and purposeful life nor are they granted the opportunity and freedom to think rationally. Faced with such an imbroglio and a time crunch, many potential geniuses whose interests are incompatible to the industry's requirements acquiesce to a job that devours all their energy to the last drop. Being a victim, participant and perpetrator of such a system, I have made an attempt to reify my opinion on the present system and put forth a few questions that is haunting me ever since.

Human 'Resource'

Its now almost accepted as a standard industry parlance to refer the employees as 'resources'. It may not seem inappropriate, but I feel its a very smart way of masking the human sentiments by referring them as resources. It is very discomforting to be referred like that as it highlights only the utilitarian aspect of man. Doesn't this seem derogatory to the values cherished exclusively by humans? Should men be bred exclusively for beneficial reasons, wherein beneficiaries are the sentinels of greed? All in the name of economic growth. Let us see the grievances faced by the ‘human resources’ in the wake of a spurt in the growth of services industry in recent times.


Ethics literally means a set of moral principles. It is a supporting pillar of human social behaviour, a light that guides us through right or wrong. It is thus very important for every man to imbibe ethics in order to lead a harmonious social life. Since the sense of ethics is instilled in the mind from a very tender age, it'll have an indelible imprint on our mental makeup. It is in this state of mind does a fresher join the industry. It is at this point in life that he/she is introduced to another code of practice - professional ethics. While it is a truly laudable idea to have a morally binding code of practice for every profession, it is also perilous due to its monopoly as there is little scope for an external agency to act as a watch dog. Hence professional ethics is largely assumed to be self-serving.
However, It can be often observed that professional ethics often comes in conflict with the individual's ethics based on his value system. There are separatists who argue that professions should be allowed to go beyond the confines of strict morality (that governing the public) when they judge it necessary. It is ironical that in spite of the fact that industry and its growth should be attributed more to humans than to anything else, in case of a clash of ethics, it is the value-based ethics that's compromised.
While it is one thing to frame the code of practise, it is quite another to implement the same. Due to the reasons mentioned above, it is practically impossible to have an effective regulatory body to maintain vigilance on human conscience.
But if the spirit of ethics is not present in the organisation, then it is very likely that any code of practices will be a facile document whose purpose proves futile. How do we achieve this spirit is something for each of us to introspect.


If a person can be charged for abetment for being an accomplice in crime, isn't it equally culpable if an industry or any lobby allures a major chunk of the state's potential geniuses for the benefit of a privileged few even as it abrades the cultural fabric of the society?
'Professional course' has taken an altogether new meaning in the current context. A professional course today refers to that which enables a student to land in a cushy job with fat pockets. Students, whose interests are different, are forced to succumb to the whims of the social milieu than to pursue in an area of their own interest. In a society where remuneration is the sole measure of one's success, rather 'achievement'; isn't this the time to rethink of the potential harm that could be indicted by a malady called 'hedonism' ? If material wealth was chased by great artists, musicians and other culture keepers of the society, would we get Purandara Dasa's lilting melodies; would we get the rich literature of Shakespeare, undying poems of Milton & Tagore; would we get van gogh, Da vinci, Picasso, so on and so forth.
Now comes the question - What should we aspire to become? Who should be our role models? Billionaires or noble souls?
What kind of a society we would like our progeny to inherit? The one which thrives on acquisitive success or the one which exults the models of rectitude.
The path that I see today compels me to fear that it is a prognosis of moral degeneration.
If the society adores hedonism, then the future generation will develop a self-concept based on this potentially pernicious concept of capitalism.
If such a seed is sown during the developmental age, then it becomes very difficult to change the course of his thoughts and his self-image. The burgeoning growth of services industry, increasing number of billionaires, exultation of business tycoons as modern India's heroes is probably an evidence of the imminent denouement of the evil of capitalism. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the state to be nonpartisan and ensure adequate opportunities to each individual enabling him to equip against the soft and a morally lethal war of the capitalists. Far from proceeding in this direction, the state seems to be favourable to such hedonistic enterprises.
It is in this light that I contend that such allurement by soft manipulation of self-image is a travesty of the preamble of India that espouses the liberty of thought and right to opportunity.

Ruse or Opportunity

The role of education sector in the prognosis of such a cancerous malady that threatens to run us down into decadence is significant. In the name of infrastructure and churning human resources who can don the hat of technological wizard catering to the whims of affluent consumers, colleges and other educational institutions are collaborating with the industry for pecuniary advantages. The syndicate of the university has become a representation of a seat of power than that of responsibility and service. And it is obvious that power begets politics. With such people at the helm of the education sector, it is a cliche to assert that Education is a factory that supplies human resources meeting the demands of the industry. I would not be as much disappointed at this current state of affairs if the victims knew what's coming unto them. Unfortunately, all this is masked under the veil called 'opportunities', where degree is a metric of education and marks that of qualification. In this mad race, students are seldom offered an opportunity to learn and to aspire what they really want to do.
If the options are reduced and the prospect of opportunity is trumpeted, isn't it more a ruse than anything else?
The merits of the educational institutes are increasingly measured on the quality of infrastructure, and mostly infrastructure alone. This spurs a question in my mind - Why is it that despite having a better infrastructure today, than 50 years ago, we are still not able to find anyone comparable to the class of Bose, Raman, and other stalwarts who are respected worldwide for their contribution to the respective fields. In fact, if the population growth is to be factored, there should have been hundreds of them in India, where in reality; the numbers of scholars are diminishing by the day. I see a dangerous vicious circle working here.
It doesn't take a scholar to understand that the quality of education is highly dependent on the quality of the pedagogue. They should have a high moral value and social responsibility which would then be inculcated in the students. It is my opinion that we seriously lack this spirit.
It could be Einstein's prescience, when he said "I consider the crippling of the social consciousness of individuals as the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career" which is so apt now than ever.

Profession or Vocation

It is important to know the difference between these two interrelated words that is so interchangeably used.
Etymologically, profession means “occupation one professes to be skilled in”, while vocation means “a calling”, a spiritual calling. It is to be noted that while profession is linked more with the self proclamation of skills to do a particular job; vocation is an activity or an occupation that is chosen in response to a calling. The ‘calling’ can be construed as an interest or passion of an individual in indulging in some activity.
It is thus my point that a person’s efficacy and contentment is achieved best if his profession is his vocation.


Albeit vilifying the current system of education and the nature of work, it is not to be misconstrued as propaganda against industrialization. It is a critical view on the short comings of the present system. My thoughts above may seem chimerical; but it is not so. It is my solemn belief that a sound education system that creates awareness about the imminent role a person is taking up, and equal opportunity to pursue any path laid on passion and diligence, and bound by the spirit of ethics will alleviate us of all the misery and elevate mankind to even greater heights.