In my time, we didn’t have a graduation at 10th class. We just passed out and passed on to do other things and never did we experience such a thing as graduation in school. But times have changed. 60 % of India is below the age of 35 and 50 % of India is below the age of 25. In 2020 India will be the youngest country in the world with an average age of 29 whereas other countries like China will be above 35. More teenagers than ever before are literate in India. So it looks like everything is set for you with a young India looking at a young you to come and join the economy.
But there is another part to this. A recent India Today report came out with statistics saying that 93% engineers in India are not employable. Which means only a miserly 7% engineering graduates are worth jobs in the industry. I don’t know how far this is true but there is a truth in this that we must not forget. Today I am going to talk about life and who and what one can be. For this purpose I would like to use the word CARE and explore each letter in a different direction.
I had gone for a graduation ceremony at a school recently. When I reached there I was hoping that I would get flowers when they welcomed me. When I saw no sign of flowers I panicked a bit and thought I must get my hand on one. Then with the welcome came the flowers. I took one flower and I plucked out some petals from it. With each petal the flower became a little less perfect. But with each petal the flower became a little special.
When I was a baby, people flocked around me and said “So sweet” and “You will become a big person”. Now when I look back, how did they know all this? It means that they saw something in me. They looked at me and said “I see something in you but I don’t know what it is”. This continued when I did not get great marks for my tenth standard and my mother looked at me and said “I see something in you but I don’t know what it is”. Later on when I was selected for priesthood, my bishop also said “I can see something in you but I don’t know what it is”. When my wife decided to marry me, she also said “I can see something in you but I don’t know what it is”. This then continues even now when I go to different churches and people look at me and say “I (we) can see something in you but I (we) don’t know what it is.”
What this suggests is that we are all like this flower which has lost a few petals. We are not perfect but we are just perfect for someone or something. What that is, we will have no idea now. But God knows where we are to be put and how. Following our heart and not our mind is following God and knowing that God knows. God can see something in us and in God’s case God knows what it is. So don’t be tensed and don’t think that 93% of engineering graduates are not employable. Instead think that you will get something just perfect for you.
The letter C in CARE reminds us that many people “can” see something in us and even though they don’t know what it is, they support us. We can also see something in ourselves and we need not know what it is. But we can go in the path that God has chosen for us.
The second letter in the word CARE is A and it stands for “articulation”. We must know how to articulate. Even when everyone follows one path we must know that there is another one to go through. Proper articulation will get us there. Articulation is not always marks and grades but being able to get something and knowing what is best for us. At the same time articulation also helps in deep thinking, knowing the market and understanding the need. Many of the richest people in the world are not always the ones with grades but are nevertheless smart. I met a CEO of a company recently. She told me that she was the back bencher in her class. She was not spectacular and yet she started a company. I asked her how? She replied that she hired the smartest brains from her very own class and now they work under her because they could study for exams whereas she could articulate the need of the market. One must know that God has the ability to turn us around any moment. One idea sometimes is enough to change our fate. By putting pressure on ourselves we will get nowhere but by looking around, observing, understanding and articulating we will be able to be very successful in life.
The third letter of the word CARE is R and it stands for “reimagine”. There is no point in following someone. We have so many unemployable graduates in India today because everyone took the same path. There was no thinking but only the thought “Sonu gaya, Umesh gaya, Lakshmi gaya, Kulsum gaya engineer ban-ne ke liye, tho main bhi jaoon.” “Sonu, Umesh, Lakshmi and Kulsum all went to become engineers so I will also go.” We all know how we went to check our marks on the notice board and checked first what the person on our right and left got and then checked our marks. This is because when we went home our parents asked how much the neighbour’s son or daughter got and if they had failed it was okay for us to fail. Our society imagines based on what those next to us imagine and do. That is a boring and wrong way to imagine. I used to play cricket for my college team and was even captain once. People used to ask me how playing cricket helped me as a priest. I have no qualms in giving the responsibility to others who are better at certain things because of my experience of passing on the ball to my team mates to bowl because I knew they could do the job. That lesson in trust and entrusting responsibility did not come from the class room but from the cricket field. We must reimagine the context we are in and find solutions which will come from varied experiences. Nothing you do is a waste of time but an experience for the future.
The final letter in the word CARE is “excel”. We all want to do well. You will do well if you believe in yourself. God is such a compassionate and good God that God wants nothing but the best for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says “ For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” There is no doubt that God wants all of us, God’s creation, to do well. Excelling doesn’t mean doing according to what the world does and expects but doing what makes us happy. A young man came across a bottle containing a genie. The genie said that he can ask for one wish but only one wish. The man thinks whether he should ask for a house, a car or something else. The genie reminds him again that he can ask for only one thing. The man thinks for a long time and then says “I wish for happiness”. Coming to think of it, happiness will give the man and us everything else but everything else will not guarantee happiness.
Each and everyone of you is a flower. You have been battered, hurt, and have lost a few petals. You are not perfect and you don’t need to be perfect. Rather, you are just perfect for us, for your family and for the outside world. We value you so much because we know you are going to do well in the exam of life. We know that because we can see something in you. We don’t know what it exactly is now, but we will come to know in the coming months and years. We know that you are going to do well because you have the skill to articulate and see what others can’t. Even when reports come out regarding the non-employability of graduates, you will do well because you can articulate a situation and do well accordingly. We know that you are going to do well because you are not the same as everyone else. Instead you can reimagine and find solutions when you face problems. We are sure that you will do well because in the pursuit of happiness you will do well naturally and will not just find happiness in material things. This we are sure. Therefore, our flowers, go out into the world. Go even with lesser petals and loss. Go despite problems and situations. You are beautiful, strong and perfect enough for us and the world. God be with you.