I had mentioned I was awarded the Claire and Warren Quimby Scholarship to McGill University. I was undecided as to what programme and what degree I should enroll in. My teachers at King’s College for Young Men in Bombay strongly recommended I obtain an arts degree to broaden my mind so I would have the analytical skills to easily manoeuvre to a post graduate degree. Their view of a “liberal arts” education was that it was not focused on what money it could eventually lead to but rather on self development and analytical skills that could be applied to so many fields. The students at King’s College for Young Men were wealthy (like me) and white (not like me) so their view on the value of a liberal arts degree I took with a grain of sand.
On the other hand the Indians were far more materialistic about my education. The relatives I had in India, on my father’s side were not successful as my father Paneer was and they saw education as a sure way to make a lot of money and escape India. They gave me numerous examples of this and that chap who hit “The Golden Temple” of wealth and status by way of MEDICINE, ACCOUNTING, LAW and COMPLIANCE. Liberal arts was but a waste of time. How is an understanding of history going to make you money my relatives cajoled me with.
So it would seem I was caught between grubby materialism and lofty idealism. I already had the money so there was no relentless drive on my part to make it through “the professions”. I chose to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. My relatives rolled their eyes and moaned. I had seen them sacrifice their lives to relentlessly drive their children into the holy grail of higher education. Tutors and week-end “special preparatory academies” and lack of any social life burnt out many of my young relatives. My thought on that is would you prefer an analytical and compassionate human being for a doctor or one that had programmed with all the right steps to gain admission to medical school! I had several of my relatives volunteer their medical prospect children to build homes in Costa Rica (for an enormous “donation”) for disadvantaged souls so their resume would sparkle in the eyes of a medical school’s admission panel. Money can be a great motivator but it can suck your soul dry. There were a limited number of spaces for foreign medical students at Canadian universities so the competition for spots was ferocious and, in some cases, deadly. The year I gained admission to McGill University 12 young men in Bombay alone committed suicide after being refused admission to medical schools in Canada.