Originally I had intended this post to be a movie review about the recent Disney anime release, Zootopia, but now I guess I’d rather stick to the part that I liked most about the movie (I’ll get to it shortly). The movie centres on a fictional city, Zootopia, whose motto is ‘Where anyone could be anything’. In this city, every animal (the movie is about them!) is encouraged to take up any job of its choice. But this cute little bunny, Judy Hopps, takes the motto a little too seriously. Ever since she was a kid, Judy wanted to be a police officer and so she works real hard to get there. But as she thinks she has finally achieved her longtime dream, her real problems start.
Now. the movie is awesome no doubt and I may do a review sometime later, but this post is about the idea that when it comes to career choices, every individual has the right to pursue whatever direction he/she wishes to. The Indian constitution guarantees to its citizens ‘Equality of status and of opportunity’ (as stated in the preamble) but a task can not be achieved just by the mention of it.
In ancient India, all individuals were divided into four groups based on their professions, Brahmin (priests), Kshatriya(aristocrats or the ruling and governing class), Vaishya(agriculturists and other traders) and Shudra (those occupied in labour intensive jobs). The exact stratification and whether it was actually practised remain debatable. The holy scripture Rig Veda briefly mentions them but as an idea. The more detailed version is provided in Manu Smriti, an ancient legal text of Hinduism.
A much more elaborate and well planned version of the four-category classification system is provided by Amish Tripathi in his first book, Immortals of Meluha, of the Shiva trilogy. His works are not based on any ancient records found, rather they are modified or, in my perspective, more rational versions of Hindu mythology. He talks about a similar categorisation system in his fictional land of Ancient India, Meluha. The classification Amish talks about is very fair and justifiable but has one catch. The catch is that all the citizens of Meluha have to give up their children as soon as they are born. All the children are sent to a place, similar to a Gurukul, where the child is taken care of and provided with education as well as various vocational courses as per his/her choice and aptitude. This way, every child is ensured a uniform and impartial system of education and has the right to choose his/her profession accordingly. He/she qualifies for the job as per his/her abilities and qualifications. Later on, at a certain age (around 16 I guess, it has been a long time since I read the book), the child is up for adoption. A family in the same business as the child has chosen takes him/her in as their own. This system can help in breaking away from the caste stigma that a child born to a farmer must be a farmer and so on. But then, giving away your just born baby is not that easy. Anyway, Amish just presented his imagination.
Whether it is Meluha or Zootopia, a world where anyone can be anything is my idea of a perfect place! It takes a lot of courage to take up an unconventional or offbeat profession and the circumstances are not always favourable. For starters, convincing your family is a huge feat, especially here in India. But with changing times, more and more people are getting comfortable with the idea of their sons or daughters becoming a photographer or a writer or a chef or an artist (and not a doctor or an engineer). I, for one, am gonna let my kids do whatever they wish to (lol that is after I finish college, get a job, get married, etc etc…)! 😉