OUR GRADUATES

From EXPRESS INDIA of June 6,2018
June is the month when the academic year ends and schools and colleges send out their newly minted graduates to the real world. In Indian families rarely anyone after high school joins the work force full time. In Indian families it is a given that a son or a daughter after high school would attend college. Indians in general are the highest earning ethnic group in the United States. They value both a stable family life and education for their children. And both values compensate each other. Unlike some of their friends Indian teenagers seldom go to work at McDonald's or Pizza Hut to compensate their family's income. Even if they do, most of the time it is against the wishes of their parents or guardians. By freeing from the distraction of money that often ruins the life of a teenager the families keep them safe.

It is not unusual to see some of them spending their spare time at a business owned by family members. That again becomes a family's investment in their future. By working under the guidance of their elders the teenagers learn the nuances of that particular business. The experience of working in the family business is quite unlike that of a teenager who works at a fast food joint under the supervision of another teen ager of about the same age. They learn about discipline, value, work ethics and customer service. The experience builds in them a knowledge that comes handy later in life.

Many Indian parents are highly educated. Some of them possess specialties in their respective fields. Therefore, their children from an early age learn to imitate them. There are households where mom and dad both are doctors, lawyers, IT engineers, accountants etc. So there is a natural expectation for the children to grow up to do even better than they did. The first generation of immigrants struggles hard to establish itself. By working long hours and starting from scratch in an alien culture and country it endures many hardships. All of this is done to provide a better environment for the children where they will grow up to be highly sought after citizens. They do. Just look around any place and any discipline in the United States. You will see bright young people conducting important businesses. Their action definitely fills the combined heart of the community in pride. They also become ideals for those who will come after them.

Most of the high school graduates this year as usual will enroll in study subjects that in the future would help them to become what they want to be. However, experience tells us that wanting to become something and becoming that are two different things. Circumstances do change and as individuals we are forced to cope with our changed environment. But education in its truest form teaches us to be free - free from any notion of material possession or recognition. Bhagabad Gita, the classic literature of India, tells us that we have to do the work with all our faculties for the benefit of the world without seeking remuneration. Small things like helping a stranger in distress or holding the door for a person in a wheel chair is something we do because it is the right thing to do. Small actions like this prepare us in life to do bigger things.

Now that the formal school time is over there is plenty of free time. So our graduates should dabble in American classics. Writing and reading go hand in hand. Last month two of the well-known American writers Phillip Roth and Tom Wolf passed away. Roth had been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize but was passed over. Both are brilliant, contemporary writers.

Graduates of the Metropolitan Washington area should try to meet with Dr. Har Swarup Singh. In India he has been a University President, a Governor of a State, a member of the Planning Commission and an Ambassador to represent India. He is an institution in his own rights. A grandfatherly figure, Dr. Singh seems to be always ready to offer a helping hand to anyone. At your age, it will be a thrill to know a person like him. A long time ago I came to know a number of people who had worked with Mahatma Gandhi. The stories they told me I will always treasure. You would also feel the same way.


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