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Bad Marks Do Not Equal Failure

The Board exams are here upon us, and millions of students in India will be taking the examinations principally for class XII which in the words of the average parent “will decide their future”. In today’s world, low scores or “bad marks” as they are popularly described are a sure path to an uncertain life. So, goes the accepted norm. After all, what do you accept when you have online dictionaries giving synonyms such as “loss of credit”, “mark against one” etc for “Bad Marks”

My perspective over the years has evolved from a vision of a world in black and white to a multi-hued world, with so many shades of grey. Since right and wrong are so subjective, why should high marks be the defining point of a student’s success?

To quote Mahatma Gandhi: “Literacy in itself is no education. Literacy is not the end of education or even the beginning. By education, I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit.”

A very interesting study by the US’s Bureau of Labour Statistics states that “Individuals born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held an average of 11.9 jobs from age 18 to age 50, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.”

Meanwhile in India, a report by FICCI-NASSCOM along with EY published in Dec 2017; provides some fascinating insights into the jobs of the future:

By 2022, 37% of the Indian workforce would be employed in new job roles”

The report claims that 9% of India’s 600 million estimated workforces would be deployed in new jobs that do not exist today. This will be due to the impact that various primary forces such as globalization, demographic changes, and adoption of exponential technologies by Indian companies are expected to have on key sectors.

So why should we look at Low Marks equating to an uncertain future, from the narrow prism of employability? There are many personalities in India who have defined the odds of low academic achievement to succeed such as

  • Kapil Dev, in my personal view, was the person who single-handedly created the craze for India by the historic Prudential world cup victory; he was a college drop-out.
  • Did you know that Sachin Tendulkar, the god of cricket studies only till class 10?
  • Mary Kom, despite being a school dropout has etched her name as a legend.
  • Azim Premji had to drop out of college at the age of 21 and took his company Wipro, to the heights success, with a net worth of $ 11 Billion.
  • Gautam Adani dropped out of commerce in college and yet has created an empire called the Adani Group.
  • A host of Bollywood celebrities like Salman Khan, Aamir Khan have studied only till the school level.

Globally too we have many examples such as:

  • John D. Rockefeller, one of the richest persons ever, had little education and was working by the age of sixteen.
  • Steve Jobs, of Apple Fame, studied in college only for six months.
  • Mark Twain started working as a printer at the age of 18, and yet we read his books as a standard text in school.
  • Henry Ford, who gave wheels to people started work at the age of seventeen as a machinist in Detroit.
  • Winston Churchill was a poor achiever in academics, and yet he went onto become a towering figure in world history.
  • Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, was almost entirely self-educated, and yet went on to give one of the most famous speeches in American History, “The Gettysburg Address”.
  • Albert Einstein, the proponent of the theory of relativity, had great difficulty getting into University.

  “It is not in our starts to hold our destiny, but in ourselves”-William Shakespeare

Sunil Mohal
Sunil Mohal has been engaged in helping students and professionals maximise their skills for the last 30 years. He has been exposed to the Hospitality Industry and the Defence Services as an officer cadet at NDA which have imbibed the virtues of customer service with discipline. Having setup Computer Programs in many of the leading schools in India, he brings enormous practical experience of Academia. Having also engaged with some of the largest IT companies in the world he understands the enormous challenges of Change and its impact on people.