Tuesday, December 27, 2005

How old are you ?

Why is it that Students from Bengal (I'll refer to them as SFBs) are about 21/22 at graduation, whereas students from other parts of India are only about 18/19 ?

Consider the implications:

A financial disaster.

1. SFBs lose out on 3 more extra years of income at(or close) to their highest salary level, typically attained just before retirement. This is often much needed money for critical reasons - kids college, daughter's marriage, buying a flat etc - all very expensive affairs.

2. SFBs retirement nest egg (and gratuity/pension) has 3 years less to grow. This is significant. For example if one starts at age 22 and invests 10000 every year till retirement (at 67) with growth compounded at 8%, he has 3865056. But if the same person starts at age 19, he has left with 4901321 - a difference of 1036265 !! There are similar devastating repurcussions on pension benefits (upto 40-50% difference !).

Social setback

1. Late marriage, very often accompanied by late kids which again means SFBs have to bear big ticket items like their children's marriage and education out of their retirement income. If one choses to squeeze the time in between marriage and the first kid, its often a not-so-insignificant sacrifice of premium uncomplicated marriage time.

2. Many post graduate entrace examinations have age limits. In today's intense competition, our SFBs miss out on 3rd or 4th attempts with devastating consequences. For example, I know a person from UP who aligned his birth date so he could get the the maximum number of attempts at UPSC (for the Civil Service - IAS, IFS, IPS etc). And he got his birth certificate only after he cleared the entrance exams for engineering (so that the 3 attempts - thus 3 yrs- he spent for the engg entrace did not show).

3. Many SFB are employed outside Bengal. Here, the age difference becomes more pronounced. Their non SFB colleagues are younger, chirpier, more upbeat, happier and get married early. Early marriage is a neccessity in a conservative society like India if that society is to remain healthy. Our SFBs, bereft of their familiar social networks, not getting married until late, among other married couples, are lonely and miserable.

Very few parents will live to see their kids retire. Could this be the cause of the collective myopia blinding parents of SFBs to grossly underestimate the importance of an "early edge" in life ? Could it be that birth certificates are fudged much more readily outside of Bengal ? Or could it be due to some structural constraints of the Bengal school system ?

Whatever the reason, if you are a parent and your children go to school in Bengal, do whatever you can to shave off those 3 years.

Just do it.


Blogger Rita said...

Interesting post! I've often thought about this even as a child simply because I was jealous of my cousins in Delhi who were in the same grade as me despite the fact that they were younger.
The financial implications occured to me much later. You do have a point there. Wonder what the solution would be.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Bengali Guy said...

Rita, good to hear from a prolific blogger. Easy solution - bribe the authorities to put down a convenient date of birth. Correct solution - examine Bengal's education system to find where are our youngsters loosing these years - perhaps cut out the nursery, kindergarten I & II years. I expect people to do the easy thing, as long as it remains a viable option, rather than the right thing.

11:55 AM  
Blogger  said...

Even if you leave the 'easy' solution aside, I guess these days kids are much more advanced in picking up things. So "will not put into class I until my kid is 6" philosophy doesn't work anymore. At the age of 4, kids are smart enough. I see my collegues and friends from south india who all went to KG at 2.5 to 3 yrs, and started normal class I at age 4 (max 5). Whereas bengali kids play at home (or go to KG I/II) and wait to grow up. Kids are smarter today, and can start life earlier.

2:52 AM  
Blogger Bengali Guy said...

Kousik, todays kindergartens are not "kinder" to younger kids.
Studies conclusively prove that they are at a tremendous disadvantage across all measurable metrics compared to their elder peers. As a parent, will you still want to send your really-4yr-old kid to a class full of 6-yr-olds-but-with-false-bcs ?

12:28 PM  
Blogger  said...

You have a point, though here (in Bangalore) most kids go to class I when they are in between 4 and 5. So probably I will send him to class I when he is 4.

And it'll be more torture for him if he has to attend class I at the age of 6, when rest of his classmates are 4.

So when in Rome ...

5:03 AM  
Blogger Bengali Guy said...

Classical "prisoners dilemma" at work here. Please remember that the few who "cheat" will win. For your sake, I hope Bangalore parents are as honest as yourself.

12:03 PM  

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