Are you ready for your face-to-face interview

After months of searching for a new position you have finally been invited to come in for a face-to-face interview. What are you going to do to maximise your chances of getting an offer that will advance you toward your career goals. Remember that a job interview is a two-way process. It ought to be a time when two parties seek to gain a better understanding of each other and why it would make sense to get together.

Always remember that you cannot underestimate your competition and all of them are working hard to enjoy the same fruit. Face to face interview is the only parameter that will decide who will win the marathon and who will be the also-rans. Therefore preparation for an interview is essential. Just to underline the importance of preparation, remember, that many well prepared candidates have a better chance of getting selected than many well qualified ones. Therefore prepare, prepare and prepare!

A few important areas that one needs to address in her/his interview preparations include one’s tone, body posture, enthusiasm, subject knowledge, background research on the company, knowledge of the role, etiquettes and one’s ability to showcase oneself as the right fit.

Below are Q & A session answered by Amit Bansal, CEO PurpleLeap

Rachna asked, how do i sound humble during interview

Amit Bansal answers, Well, sometimes we tend to mix self respect with pride or sometimes even arrogance. That is where we fail to sound humble. A tip is to mention achievements as just stepping stones in your career that you have worked hard for. Mention them but don;t show off or compare them with others’. Let the interviewer draw the comparisons.

Deepak asked, how to judge a company prime-facia basis to know the chance of a better enviornment and your survival . as I have seen cases where companies offer a good salary and were very bad in retaining ppl because of enviorment issue
Amit Bansal answers, Well, remember the same company may be really great for someone and not so good for someone else. As far as background check is concerned one can always go by the reviews either via internet or ex or current employees of that organisation. Ask them questions that are important to you.

Atul asked, if interviewer ask waht will you contribute to the organisation, what will be our reply
Amit Bansal answers, Here the recruiter wants to know how can you be a value add to their organisation. You need to highlight your strengths that you have demonstrated in your previous projects that have contributed towards the improvement of the process and helped you achieve something.

Boss asked, Hi Amit, you pls tell about some of the positive body language to display during the interview.
Amit Bansal answers, Tips: 1. Project confidence but not arrogance 2 Be realxed but don’t slouch 3. Do not be uptight and stiff. 4. Answer slowly and not in a rush 5 Eye contact while talking 6. Be crisp while responding. 7. Dress formally. 8. Be realistic and show a learning and excelling approach towards things.

SKN asked, What we need to ask when the interviewer allows us to ask a question .
Amit Bansal answers, There are many questions one can ask depending upon what you would like to know : 1. Qualities they are looking for in a candidate. 2. Process related questions. 3. Anything specific you would like to know about the position you are applying for.

Jmk asked, Hi Amit, I am currently stressed because of my current job conditions and when I go for an interview it shows.. Can you tell me how can I handle this and hide it in interviews
Amit Bansal answers, It is normal to get stressed during an interview. If you are already working somewhere, then it is a good idea to go for an interview on a day off so that you are not bothered by work related issues. Read about the company, prepare well for the interview so that it boosts your confidence and most importantly relax, the recruiters are also people who have faced these interviews themselves. There is no need to get worked up or intimidated.

Testing asked, Hi Amit would like to know that its a good idea to rejoin again previous company if yes then HR must ask this question why you left us earlier..any good suggestion
Amit Bansal answers, Nowdays, there are so many people who join their previous companies again. There are personal or professional reasons that make the people to leave the organisation but what is important is to convince them that you loved , enjoyed and learnt a lot working with them which has inspired you to come back.

SANJEEV asked, what points should be covered for question ‘Tell me something about yourself’
Amit Bansal answers, When this question is asked, the recruiters usually expect information that is relevant to them like educational qualification, professional experience, previous organisations, any important projects undertaken. They usually ask for more information if they need it.

g_amit22 asked, What should be the answeres for job change / why are u looking for a change/ why not u took any change if u are from a long time??
Amit Bansal answers, My suggestion to people who face this question is to be honest. There are several reasons why people look for a job change like: 1. Knowlege gain and exposure. 2. Learning various other aspects of a business which the company specifically provides. 3. Excel in their field. 4. Learn and at the same time contribute your learning to that company. 5. Career growth and better opportunity to excel. Again there are several reasons possible but always give the one that is honest and you can explain it. As far as time factor is concerned it is a good thing if you have spent a considerable amount of time in an organisation as it talks about your stability and loyality factor.

SHAM asked, how to attract interviewer
Amit Bansal answers, Every recruiter looks for some specific qualities in a candidate which they relate with the position, process or maybe even the company.Having said that, there are certain qualities that all recruiters look for like subject matter expertise, confidence, ambition and attitude towards things.

Mohan asked, How to dress up before going for an Interview ?.
Amit Bansal answers, It is advisable to dress formally for any interview. There are some organisations who do not follow any particular kind of dress code however, at the time of the interview every aspect of your personality is judged. It is always safe to dress formally.

sam asked, how to end the interview ?
Amit Bansal answers, Ending an interview is a generic question.There is no fixed or standard ending for any interview. The flow of the conversation itself decides the end. Usually, once you have show cased your side, the ending is left on the interviewer.

SHAM asked, Sir How to Introduce myself as the biggest and catching format
Amit Bansal answers, Introductions need not be elaborate. They should be honest, crisp and effective. Honest as in stating whatever experience you have, crisp as in short and effective as in mentioning the relevant information first depending on what the interviewer has asked.

Chat Date: 16 January, 2013




What to expect on your first day at work

It is advisable to ask your prospective employer about the documents you will require in advance to avoid delays in your new workplace advises Amit Bansal, CEO – PurpleLeap.

The first day at work is filled with mixed emotions.

The sense of achievement at having secured this job and journey ahead is aptly countered with the apprehension of a new environment and new people.

Being in a new place itself is daunting, so the strain of documentation and paperwork can become an additional burden.

On the other hand, from the company’s perspective, it is inevitable.

Companies need to make a record of the personal as well as professional details of a new joinee on Day 1.

Through this article, you would see why documentation on Day 1 is significant and what you can do to ensure a smooth first day.

For any company, Day 1 documentation covers detailed information pertaining to new employees’ education, competencies, professional experience, achievements, family details etc.

Further, information obtained through documentation also discloses new employees’ personal orientation and interests towards specific areas of business improvement.

Anticipation of national threats and incidents impacting the organisation at large has led to documentation becoming extremely important on the first day.

For the new employee, Day 1 orientation provides an overview of the organisations’ vision and mission, organisation structure, human resource policies, business practices, agreement of non-disclosure of business secrets, appropriate usage of physical as well as intellectual properties assigned and seeks acceptance on employment terms and conditions.

Day 1 documentation hand holds the new employee to settle into the organisation.

Information from the documentation also helps the employee understand the process of provident fund, gratuity, medical Insurance, accident cover and other statutory compliances.

Validation of original documents: Collection of joining documents differs from organisation to organisation.

Generally, an assigned HR representative of the orientation team would verify the original documents with the copies submitted for authenticity.

Document validation involves identity proof, address proof, educational certificates, previous employment documents (offer and relieving letters of previous employment, pay slips and relieving letter of recent employment)

Continuity and successful accomplishment of education: Verification of course commencement and passing date, status of course accomplishment, AICTE accreditation of the university and justifiable gaps in education are the key areas that are considered.

Continuity of employment: Verification of employment tenure at each organisation vis-a-vis offer and corresponding relieving letters of every employment, recent role and compensation details vis-a-vis recent pay slips.

Background verification: Organisations generally entrust the activity of background verification to the third party service providers (specialised organisations) who in turn help in validating information provided by the new employee.

Background verification includes verification on education, past employment, criminal records, and residential address depending on the need of the organisation.

Acceptance of employment terms and conditions: A detailed document involving terms and conditions of employment, non-disclosure agreement of business secrets, termination clause and other clauses governing employment is signed off by new employees and this emphasizes a consensus between the employee and the organisation.

Statutory compliance: In addition to organisations’ compliance to Indian Labour laws, at the point of onboarding, a new employee opens a Provident Fund account or transfers the fund accumulated in his previous employment as prescribed by Employee Provident Fund Scheme 1952.

Employee State Insurance Act 1948 provides medical assistance and accident cover for a group of employees whose existing wage limit coverage under the Act is up to Rs 15,000 per month ( w.e.f. 01/05/2010).

Payment of Gratuity Act 1972 provides a framework for onetime retirement benefit as gratitude for employees’ dedicated service.

A candidate should provide correct information and documentation from the day he or she applies for the job to ensure a smooth joining process.

Employers have realised the advantage of leveraging the technological advancements to manage candidate information effectively.

ERP enables candidates to apply through the Internet for a specific job, provide employment related information, which is retained until his/her candidature is rejected.

Pre joining communication

As part of the pre-joining formalities and pre-joining kit in some companies, a checklist of mandatory documents to be submitted before joining are included.

This enables the new employee to ensure complete document submission on the decided date of joining.

New joinees need to focus on these:

  • Lack of any document pertaining to identity, address-proof, education and previous employment would lead to insufficiency of documents and you may face rescheduled joining date or at times offer-cancellation.
  • Fresher candidates should obtain a provisional degree certificate if the original certificate is delayed beyond your joining date.
  • Experienced candidates should obtain a resignation acceptance letter in case the relieving letter is delayed beyond your joining date.

Attention to detail and bit of preparation would lead to a hassle-free start to your career.

Source: rediff

Effective time management at the workplace

It may sound like a cliched statement but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. If you were to ask working professionals they will tell you that they feel like they are constantly chasing the clock. However, if you find yourself always running out of time, then you should consider having a schedule to manage your time, which is going to help you prioritise your time and show you how to accomplish more in less time and with less stress.

Time management begins with the realisation that without some thought and planning, we are likely to waste a great deal of time in the future and have already wasted a huge amount of our life span in the past. By using proven methods we can make the most of whatever time we have.


Below Q & A session was answered by Amit Bansal, CEO PurpleLeap


sanjeet asked, How do i manage my time to get result more effective n fruitful,, i waste my time aloat in doing nothing n keep sitting idle , i want to make my day productive
Amit Bansal answers, Well I am sure you know the answer to your question. Self discipline is the only way.

sanky asked, Hi, In office most of the time I spent in solving others issue or addressing their problem being a senior member that is one of my job but due to this not able to concentrate on my work and hence need to slog. Please advice
Amit Bansal answers, You need to create an assertive environment around you where you can say no. Please understand that you cannot solve others’ problems and still be able to do your own tasks. You can only do one thing at a time. Either finish your tasks and if time permits help others. But you cannot always keep helping others and also create time for your own work.

ajay asked, what is diff between following a time table and the time management?
Amit Bansal answers, A task list or to do list is more appropriate than a time table. You may need more time to complete some tasks and in that case a time table may not work.

Oarchilos asked, We had a time management session for my employees, Did motivate them for a small spell of time, but it faded away in due course
Amit Bansal answers, Creating regular activities to maintain time management helps. Rewards and recognition based on their area of work is important. The rewards need not be big however small appreciations help.

priyanka asked, How to manage time when there is no work in office 🙂
Amit Bansal answers, That’s a great opportunity to spend time on self development activities.

Sanjay asked, I think and follow time etc for 2-3 days but after some time again i get into old habbit finding myself behind time. how we can overcome this?
Amit Bansal answers, Reward yourself each time you complete your tasks on time. That is a great motivator.

naren asked, I have been loaded with so many projects, how do i get time for my personal improvements?
Amit Bansal answers, Like I mentioned a to do list always help. Its important you do not compromise on either your professional or personal projects. To manage time it sometimes becomes important that we go ahead and say no to a few things. So it’s alright to set priorities to tasks and if some tasks can be removed or moved to the next day, so be it.

Jayshree asked, how to motivate groups for efficient time-management?
Amit Bansal answers, You must organize some teasers or reward games in teams to motivate people about time management.

Nitesh asked, How can we effectively managed time in office as most of time went in team and client query and phone calls and our personal weekly target get impacted and to cover up we have to work on the weekend. Plz advice
Amit Bansal answers, Ideally a to do list should be created as soon as we get in the office. This helps in managing the day effectively.


Chat date: September 12, 2012

How to choose the right engineering college

Amit Bansal

With more than 2,000 colleges in the country, you may be spoilt for choice during admission season. It is important to research well before you take the plunge, says Amit Bansal.

Which of the following is true for you?

  • You got into trouble with your parents for opening-up the mobile / computer
  • You think about solving problems when your teacher is speaking in class
  • You are called “very practical”
  • You were told that you have very good observational skills

If you have more than two of the above then you need to be pursuing an engineering career.

Do you realise that choosing an engineering college is also like solving a problem and taking a decision?

With more than 2,000 engineering colleges across the nation you would need to make multiple decisions in order to get into the right college with the right environment and with the right kind of support to launch yourself.

Like any decision there is a risk involved and in this case it might be a big chunk of your parent’s savings and more critically, your career is at stake.

Here are the three decision-making factors that you should keep in mind:

  • Made in Cheena?
  • The ‘Gurukul Test’
  • Tipping Point

1. Made in ‘Cheena’

Fake products are abundant in the market and so are fake educational institutions.

First and foremost, investigate the legal sanctity of the institution and the degree offered. Choosing and enrolling into a fake institution will not only pour your money down the drain but also plunge you into deep regret.

Read the points below and make a smart choice. It is a bit like learning to separate ‘Cheena’ from ‘China’!

2. The Gurukul test

Imagine spending four years of your life in an institute which would feel just like home.

In the ancient days, Gurukuls would achieve a homely ambience. Times have changed now but the importance of the environment still remains. So what comprises a great study environment?

Here are four factors you should get right and will give you a good night’s sleep (not during exams though!) after you enroll.

a. Faculty

Look for the elephant’s tooth! Elephant’s tusks are not used for chewing. So do not mistake the tusk for the tooth. What I mean is that you must try to find out more about the kind of faculties.

Do not just look at the names mentioned in the brochures as it could happen that a lot of such names do not actually teach. If you find fancy names under ‘advisory council’ but do not find those names mentioned under ‘department faculty’, you know that these people are just for namesake and may not actually teach you.

So beware the tusker!

b. Campus

Make sure that you visit the campus where the classes will be held. Look at the lab facilities and try to figure out whether the equipment kept in those labs is actually being used or not.

If you find equipment that looks like straight out of the showroom (or the antique room), you know that possibly you will also never get a chance to use that equipment.

c. Environment

Interact with current students of the college and figure out the kind of environment that the institute provides.

Does the college have a culture of ‘cuts and bunks’, do the teachers take classes regularly, does the management provide right discipline to enable healthy learning environment etc.

Essentially, try to get a feel whether the place where you will spend eight hours every day for the next four years, meets your expectations or not.

d. Accreditation

Most good colleges go in for accreditation from National Board of Accreditation. This generally means that the college maintains certain standards, intends to be competitive and is quality conscious.

Find out the accreditation status from

3.  Tipping Point

Engineering is a lot of hard work and involves a lot opportunity cost (the alternate uses that you could have put the money to, the alternate college / career that you could have pursued etc) and you want just rewards for all the effort.

The best way the college can reward you is by arranging campus placements. This for many of you will be the ‘tipping point’. In other words, the right company can tip you or push you into a better career growth as compared to poor start in a wrong job.

Also remember, the main role of the college is to provide you good academic inputs and help you get a degree; they have no obligation to get you a job. It is only left to the initiative of the college management to get you a job by the end of your degree.

It becomes all the more important in these tough economic times that the college you join has an active interest in getting you a job. The ‘placement record’ is an external or third party endorsement of the college and is generally an accurate assessment of the quality of the college.

The following factors will decide your tipping point:

a. Training and Placement Office (TPO) activities

Most engineering colleges will have a TPO. However, it is important to know how active they are. What all did the cell do in the last year. How many opportunities did the students get in the last couple of years. Check the notice boards!

b. Placement rate

How many students actually got placed in the last few years? While most colleges will claim 100 per cent placements, it is important for you to find out how true those claims are. If the college is just naming the companies that interviewed the students, chances are high that the students are not getting placements.

c. Career programmes

How many students get selected for good MBA or MS programmes is also a good indicator of how successful students will be after completing their engineering.

d. Employment and career readiness initiatives

A very strong indicator on the attitude of the management towards placements can also be judged by the initiatives being taken to get students ready for the industry. Does the college have industry-readiness programmes being run in addition to the regular academic input?

So while your passion is engineering and you love your subject, also use the three-point formula:

  • Avoid the fakes
  • Select the environment suits you, and
  • Keep placements in mind

When you become an engineer, you will be happy you followed this engineering formula.

All the best!


How to beat exam stress

Examinations are a time of anxiety and nervousness –not only for the students but also the parents.

To increase productivity and take the exams well, it is also necessary — besides studying hard — to focus on eating habits, sleep patterns, mental and physical fitness.

Here are some tips — for parents as well as students — to beat the examination blues.

A balanced diet is important, especially during examinations. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide children reserves of energy and increase their ability to concentrate.

“With a healthy diet of vegetables, fibre and fruits, your mind stays alert. If you have heavy junk food like pizzas and burgers, it slows down,” says Gargi Sathe, a Pune-based dietician.

“Spicy and salty food just prior to the exams can lead to a lot of sluggishness during the exams. Green, leafy vegetables, fruits, salads and pulses should be encouraged during examinations,” she adds.

She underlines the importance of home-cooked meals — Dal, rice, Roti, a vegetable (alternate between a green, leafy vegetable and sprouts), salads, and a seasonal fruit.

“Many a time, children munch on chips, wafers, etc during studies to beat boredom; instead, eat walnuts, nuts, or fruits,” she says.

Avoid excess tea, coffee and chocolates. “Though they stimulate you temporarily, they will get you tired,” says Sathe.

“Have a small meal prior to the exam; it will help you to be more wakeful during the exam. A heavy meal will make you sluggish,” she adds.

Take care of the eyes

Exam time means a lot of reading, writing, stress and strain. Make sure not to overexert or strain the eyes.

“Make sure there is ample light in the room where the child is studying. Reading with a night lamp is a strict no-no,” says Dr Aniruddha Joshi, an eye surgeon.

Use a table and a chair to study and write, Dr Joshi says. “Leaning on the table or reading in the sleeping position for a long time will strain your eyes.”

Rest your eyes after half an hour of continuous reading; blinking helps. Avoid rubbing the eyes. Splash cold water instead.

Sleep is important

“Do not compromise on sleep,” asserts homeopath Dr Reena Dhaware. She advises strongly against staying awake all night to study. She also advises not to hit the bed immediately after studies; a few minutes are needed to get out of the ‘books mode.’

A short walk, a glass of water or just glancing through magazines before going off to sleep will help de-stress.

Get outdoors

“Students must have at least 15 minutes of outdoor activity even during exams,” says Dr Dhaware. “It helps them exercise and relax their muscles.”

No bans, please

This one is for parents: Don’t ban extracurricular activities for your child. A short stroll in the garden, brief play time (can be a board game too) or some television will help de-stress.

Don’t get obsessed

Talk about things other than examination. This will have a relaxing effect. Share some jokes, some interesting anecdotes of the day to lighten up the atmosphere at home.

Calming techniques

Practise deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation exercises as part of your daily routine and encourage the child to use them during the examinations.

Be neat and tidy

Give a thought to your clothes, not just while going for the exam, but also during studying. Remember, neat and tidy clothes help lift spirits.


Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine. You could try watching Tom And Jerry for a while. It will help you relax.


Issues young Indians face today-Part 6

Though we may not necessarily look at it that way, the lack of a strong role model is the greatest issue facing young Indians today.

At a recent book launch, software icon N R Narayana Murthy pointed out that ‘the number of role models our youngsters can look up to is decreasing’.

The corrupt, he said, are slowly but surely becoming the only role models for young Indians.

‘Our youngsters don’t have role models to look up to and therefore and sadly because of corruption, some of the people who are doing exactly the opposite, dishonest, deceit, ‘chalta hai’ and all of that… they are becoming more and more powerful, they are becoming wealthier. Therefore, our youngsters are getting the wrong signals. They think maybe this is the way to succeed. I don’t blame them,’ he said.

Saida Raval agrees, “There is little that children have around them to be inspired by. I can’t see a lot of people having role models. I don’t come across kids who say they want to be like person x. That also makes them a little more lost. Parents are always trying to get their kids disciplined but rarely do they see what comes out of this discipline, what is the result, who they can be! There is no such towering figure in that sense for this generation that can drive them towards single-mindedly achieving something.”

Raval’s point does strike a chord with me. Surely there is Anna Hazare you may say but, I am a little sceptical of calling him the icon of my generation, not so much because of who he is but because of who we are.

In fact, when you think about it, you don’t see too many towering figures in fiction too. For what they were worth, our parents and their parents had their set of heroes. Be it Jay Gatsby or Atticus Finch or even Feluda or Devdas. In films too, you had Anand, ‘Mother India’ and Bhootnath.

It isn’t a surprise then that many of our filmmakers are steadily turning to classics, attempting to remake them and reinterpret them for our generation.

Of these, the one film that stands out is Anurag Kashyap’s Devdas. The intelligent interpretation of the story and indeed the characters sees Kashyap’s Devdas giving up his Paro and choosing to go back to Chandramukhi.

Unlike Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s protagonist who burns the candle from both ends going out all guns blazing, Kashyap’s modern Devdas returns to his little room, back to his little life and a conventionally happy ending.

That in more ways, speaks to me not just about our heroes but also about our generation — that loves to arrive with a bang but almost invariably goes out with a whimper.


Issues young Indians face today-Part 5

Amit Bansal is a career counsellor and trainer who heads PurpleLeap, an organisation that works with colleges to make students employment-ready. One of the greatest challenges he hopes young today overcome is the unusually high expectations they have from their workplace.

“Many engineers and management graduates have little or no understanding of what kind of work they would be doing in their first job. Everyone wants it to be glamorous; it isn’t. Engineers are disappointed because they have to work on other people’s code and don’t get to write one of their own till almost two to three years in their careers. Fresh off the boat management trainees want to work on pricing, branding, marketing — things that you can get to only after some amount of experience in the field.”

Bansal recollects his first job where during a one-on-one interaction with Bharat Puri the then top boss of Asian Paints asked him what he saw himself doing in the company. Enthusiastically he told him how frustrated he was and exactly what he wanted to do. After letting him finish, Puri simply told him, “This is what I do after years of experience. If you do all of this, what job will I get to do?”

Patience really is the key, Bansal points out, and one that young Indians seem to have lost somewhere along the evolution path in part perhaps because of lack of mentors and mentorship programmes as part of HR activities in corporate houses.


Issues young Indians face today-Part 4

Fitting in often comes at a price. If you have a Nokia, you want a BlackBerry; if you have a BlackBerry, you want an iPhone.

Surely a young adult has more demands than his/her parents can handle but living in an increasingly globalised world where everything is accessible at the click of a mouse and swipe of a card, many are lamenting the rising materialism amongst young Indians.

Sadia Raval points out that folks of my generation and half a generation before mine — children of the ’80s and ’70s — even give in to their children’s demands in part because we never had those opportunities. The other reason, she adds, is guilt.

She says, “Most of us are working parents getting to spend little or no time with our children. Buying things they ask for is seen as a way to compensate our absence in their lives. What we don’t realise is that because we didn’t have certain things, we have certain values. So in a way it is the parents who are to be blamed for compensating their absence with gadgets and games and filling their lives with things they don’t need. We don’t seem to be telling our kids that struggle is part of life.”


Issues young Indians face today- Part 3

If on the one hand parental pressures aren’t bad enough, peer pressures make matters only worse.

“It matters to young people how many friends they have on Facebook or what brand of clothes they wear, what mobile phone they use and who they’re seen with. The funny part is that they may be ok with what they have as long as they don’t know what their friends do too,” Sadia Raval tells me.

A friend and a mother-of-two once told me that her daughter was angry for purchasing a Maruti Swift because it was too downmarket for her. Her daughter is said to have told her that she ‘should’ve considered a Honda CRV’. My friend, a single mother in her early 50s and had the liberty of having a car quite late in life herself, gasped at the thought and quite simply asked her to take the bus since she found being seen in a Swift below her dignity!

Doctoral candidate Antoinette Landor who presented some of her findings at the World Congress for Sexual Health in Glasgow has drawn a connection between teens losing their virginity and peer pressure.

Landor explains that peer pressure often drives young people into their lovers’ beds. “They are more likely to have a higher number of sex partners and a higher number of oral sex partners. They are more likely to not delay sex, and engage in sex without any contraception,” she says.

Although Landor’s study does not include Indian teens, the findings are relevant to the (urban) Indian context too. A former colleague who studied in one of the more posh schools in Mumbai with more than a dozen Bollywood kids as his classmates told me that they ‘went the whole hog’ by the time they graduated out of Class Ten. He laughed heartily as I looked at him with some amount of disbelief (and perhaps a little jealousy) and assured me he wasn’t lying.

What he said was confirmed by India Today‘s most recent survey that revealed at least 24 per cent respondents across the country had lost their virginity while they were still in their teens (the figures were 20 per cent higher in Delhi).

“It is almost like a competition,” my Maruti Swift-driving friend tells me. “If your friend has slept with someone, you want to as well, just to prove a point and just so you can fit in with the group.”


Issues young Indians face today- Part 2

Things get complicated when parents decide to add their two bits worth. A friend and mother-of-two likes to (somewhat incorrectly) call this ‘the 3 Idiots syndrome’. “It’s a typically middle class thing to do — push your kids into B-schools and expect them to earn eight-figure salaries at the end of their education.”

Sadia Raval agrees. Parental pressures aren’t easy to fight off she says and these very pressures drive young children up against the wall. “Very often, taking up a stream (of education) you don’t like results in a great deal of confusion and disillusionment. There are cases when kids manage to get into IITs but sooner rather than later realise their hearts are not into it; they fare poorly in their tests; disillusionment sets in and that leads to demotivation and loss of self esteem. It’s a vicious circle.”

These kinds of parental pressures, Raval says, exist at all levels often starting when the child is still in school.

When I asked Parul Sharma how early these pressures really start, she chuckles, “Pretty early on in life.”

Sharma’s book Bringing up Vasu: That First Year, offers a tongue-in-cheek view of a first-time mother’s attempts to give her son ‘everything that is best for him’. And while the situations described in it seem almost farcical in nature, the protagonist’s attempts to get her son into the best pre-school or make available the best that is there for him in the market does touch a chord.

“There is a certain type of parent that tries to push on its child his/her ambitions and there are others like Mira (her protagonist) whose intentions are well-placed and driven with the sole purpose of getting the best for her child. Does that justify the pressures on the kids? I don’t think so,” she says.

Raval continues, “Parents often push their children into tuitions and extra classes in the hope that they turn out to be superstars.”

The results however are far from desirable.

“There is so much on their plate that many students simply cannot cope with it. I have seen fairly bright students breaking down and giving up,” Raval says adding that the number of children breaking down just before Class 10 and 12 exams has gone up drastically in the last few years.”