Home Others Higher Education, Policy and Development in Asia 2017

Higher Education, Policy and Development in Asia 2017

Kirti Dhingra, a journalist from Delhi, tells us that India may be the only country in the world where parents decide their children's careers right after they are born.

The character of Farhan Qureshi in 3 idiots reflects this amazing cultural practice of the iron authority of Indian parents over their children's lives when he says in the film: I was born at 5:15 a.m. and at 5:16 a.m. my father said, 'My son is going to be an engineer.'

The famous and hilarious 3 idiots premiered in 2009 and remains one of the most successful Bollywood films of all time. Here are some key facts about the film:

  • Two friends go in search of a lost buddy. On this journey, they encounter a long-forgotten bet, a wedding that they must crash, and a funeral that is impossible to get out of control.
  • On her way through the dangerous landscape, another journey begins: her nostalgic journey through the past and the story of her friend - the irrepressible free-spirited Ranchoddas Shamaldas Chanchad (Rancho), who touched and changed her life during her college days.
  • 3 idiots is a story of those men's dorm days at the Imperial College of Engineering in India that vacillates between Rancho's romance with attractive medical student Pia and his encounter with an oppressive mentor Viru Sahastrabudhhe (aka Virus).

The opening moments of the pendant begin with these words, and they reflect the pragmatic culture that pervades India, where higher education is widely recognized as a great social balancer that brings lasting prestige, financial power, and even a promising love life:

We all went to college to graduate. If you don't graduate, you won't get a job. You will not get married without a job. The bank won't give you a credit card and the world won't respect you. But [Rancho] didn't come here for college, he just came to study.

A quick look at the trailer immediately brings to mind some potential problems with the higher education system in India. Even if engineering schools tend to have more men than women, why could this be the reason for a disproportionate number of girls at this university? Does ICE Gender Inequality Reflect a Greater Problem of Gender Inequality in Universities in India?

The college can also provide practical engineering skills to its students, but how far does it develop its students' ability to think critically? More importantly, how should a college, in the context of a culturally conservative and pragmatic India, develop a student's ability to think independently and choose what kind of life and career to pursue?

And if all of this hasn't piqued your curiosity to learn more about the film, maybe an allegedly pro-feminist tweet about it 3 idiots from one Mr. D. Trump you might challenge you to form your own opinion about the film's portrayal of gender in the Indian higher education landscape:

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