As India rolled into the 21st century, this generation has broken the chains of conventional doctor-engineer-MBA paths drawn out by a more rigid society of the past, and replaced the cookie-cutter thought process with a slightly more inspired one. Creative courses are now abundant, widening the scope of career choices in India and making alternate journeys in a life a possibility. With new avenues and opportunities on the horizon, India’s youth is expanding the definition of learning. Scroll on for 20 unique and off-beat education opportunities offered across India, and remember, it’s never too late to do one!
I. Alcohol Technology
University: Vasantdada Sugar Institute, Maharashtra
As fascinating as this course sounds, it doesn’t call for quite as much debauchery as the name suggests. And even though it doesn’t entail chugging liquor for a practical exam, it’s really unique nonetheless. Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI) is an autonomous body that was established in 1975 by sugarcane growers of cooperative sugar factories in the state of Maharashtra. Under one umbrella, they carry out all scientific, technical and educational functions relevant to the sugar industry, and they also have a Department of Alcohol Technology that has been working towards helping the distillery industry. Their main work involves perfecting the ways in which they can increase the productivity of this industry, mainly by developing and adopting better technology.
The department offers three types of courses – regular, short-term and national-level workshops and seminars that will equip students to undertake research for developing cost-effective alcohol production technologies from alternate raw materials.
University: Indian Astrobiology Research Centre, Mumbai
Every child, at some point of time growing up, has dreamed of being an astronaut. And for some, Mumbai’s Indian Astrobiology Research Centre (IARC) is keeping that dream alive. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe, and even probes into the possibility of extraterrestrial life. The IARC is an autonomous scientific body that conducts and encourages theoretical research in the field, and they also offer education and outreach initiative-related opportunities, such as externships, volunteership and freelance opportunities. And if your space-thirst still isn’t quenched, they even have a diploma course in other fields of study such as Astronomy & Cosmology, Space Sciences and Evolution.
III. Bachelor in Rural Studies
University: Bhavnagar University, Gujarat
Indian society is as complex as it is difficult to fathom, and there are both rural and urban sides of that coin. To understand the various layers of this country, it’s important to explore the rural side as well, and this course is a really good start. The syllabus covers a range of topics such as animal husbandry, forestry, farm management, child development, agriculture, environment management and, community development. Post the course, the ideal step forward would be to apply for jobs in various government, public and private organizations that work for rural issues, or with an NGO working with similar subjects. And with this being such a crucial subject for Indians to learn about, a lot of different colleges across Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh offer similar courses as well.
IV. Carpet Technology
University: The Indian Institute of Carpet Technology, Allahabad
If this is the first time you’ve even heard of a calling of this kind, you’re not alone. As unusual as it sounds, this is a highly revered course in its own right, set up by the Indian Ministry of Textiles. The Indian Institute of Carpet Technology (IICT) aims to support the carpet and allied textile industries through increasing skilled labourers and technical support, and thus this course was born. Their syllabus covers both, practical and theoretical understanding of textile fibres, the process of dyeing, carpet washing and more. They even have a range of regular, distance and short-term courses, all aimed at helping the carpet and textile industry flourish.
V. Ethical Hacking
University: Indian School of Ethical Hacking, Kolkata
While hacking is still a big moral red flag and, well, illegal, ethical hacking is it’s socially acceptable counterpart. Technically, you will be hacking for a living, but as opposed to taking advantage of the vulnerabilities found, ethical hackers document the shortcomings and provide advice on how to fix them, thereby helping an organisation increase its overall security. The Indian School of Ethical Hacking is a joint venture by Netsoft Technologies and iSolution Software Systems Pvt. Ltd. that aims to teach the students in-depth IT security know-how. Arizona Infotech in Pune offers a 15-day course for the same as well. So if jumping through internet hoops and sliding past firewalls makes your heart race, this is the legal way to do it.
University: Tamil Nadu Fisheries University, Tamil Nadu
Before the name of this course makes you jump to conclusions, let’s start off with a disclaimer -- this course does not teach people how to fish, however great that would be. The Tamil Nadu Fisheries University (TNFU) was set up by Tamil Nadu Fisheries Industry owing to the importance of the fisheries sector in the Indian economy. It focuses on aquaculture based studies, such as adopting scientific methods to harness maximum benefit with minimum input without harming the environment or exhausting natural resources. Their courses also teach students the process involved in scientific rearing of tilapia, catfish, shrimps, loaches and other ornamental fish. And to top it off, they even work towards diagnosing fish diseases and testing the quality of fishery products, thereby working towards increasing productivity and sustainability of livelihood.
VII. Food Flavourist or Flavour Chemist
University: Indian Institute of Hospitality & Management, Mumbai and SRM: Department of Food Process Engineering, Ghaziabad, UP
If you enjoyed balancing equations and forming covalent bonds while you were in school, food flavourist might be the path for you. Trust us, it is a legitimate profession. The Indian Institute of Hospitality & Management (IIHM) in Mumbai and the SRM University offers a course that helps people understand fragrances and flavours to products, in order to enhance its taste and smell. The job basically requires mixing various ingredients to create unique flavours, which essentially means that you need to gain a thorough understanding of aroma chemicals, essential oils, plant extracts and other similar aromatic ingredients. If you are a chemistry buff, but not a huge foodie, fear not, because there are hordes of goods that require alluring fragrances like perfumes, cosmetics and even toothpaste.
VIII. Food Technology
If you’re passionate about food, and live to eat instead of eat to live, food technology is right up your alley. This course that was developed to cater to the need for skilled hands in the nascent industry of food processing. Here, you would analyse the chemical, physical and microbiological makeup of food when it is processed, preserved, packaged and stored so that you can work towards improvising methods to improve quality. Post graduation, the career scope would explore food processing industries, research laboratories, hotels, soft drink factories, quality control, rice mills, manufacturing industries, and even distilleries.
IX. Gardening Programme
University: Mumbai University, Mumbai
For those with a green thumb, the University of Mumbai offers two courses on gardening – Nursery and Farm House Management, and the Garden Craft course for small and ornamental gardens. While the first course is in Marathi, the second one is available in both Marathi and English. Run by the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies of Mumbai University, both of these short-term courses will help you understand the nuances of growing different varieties of plants and the best suitable conditions for them. While the Nursery and Farm House Management leans towards horticulture, Garden Craft is more about aesthetics.
X. Gandhian Thoughts
University: Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik
Gandhi Vichar Darshan is a one-year diploma course offered by the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) that deals with an intensive study of the life, philosophy and methodology of Mahatma Gandhi. Of course, understanding Gandhi and his way of life obviously doesn’t start and end with reading about Ahimsa and his Satyagraha movement, which is why the course allows you to experience community living, manual work, sanitation, agriculture, spinning, devotional music and field work.
University: Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai, TISS and , Institute of Home Economics, New Delhi. . Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology also offers a one year postgraduate diploma course in Gerontology and Age Management.
Gerontology is the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of ageing that aims to help the elderly lead a better life. Ruia College started the course in collaboration with the Silver Inning Foundation in order to create a section of professionals who are well versed with the technicalities associated with taking care of the elderly. The need for such a project stems from the fact that as of 2011 data, India is home to over 90 million senior citizens, and improvement of their quality of life is an important social responsibility. Post this course, the work prospects would involve working with NGOs, community service agencies or private companies, and there are numerous healthcare agencies, old age homes and nursing homes looking for specialists in this field.
XII. Habitat Policy and Practice
University: Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
Urban spaces are an essential part of economic growth, and there’s a lot that goes into efforts to make them a safe, healthy environment to live in. Naturally, the upkeep and development of urban spaces shouldn’t come at the expense of the interests of the common man or the environment. This is exactly why we need trained specialists who are not just well-versed with certain disciplines like engineering, architecture, law, economics or management, but also in urban policy. Keeping this in mind, TISS offers an M.A./M.Sc. degree in Habitat Policy and Practice. So if you’re looking for an opportunity to improve the quality of life offered by urban spaces, this would be a good start.
University: National Institute of Mountaineering
For all those pumped with adrenaline at just the thought of trekking, rock climbing and other similar activities, enrolling yourself in the mountaineering course at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) might give you everything you want from life. HMI Darjeeling, JIM Pahalgam, ITBP training Auli, MAS Manali and SGMI, Gangtok, are some of the other universities that provide the same. There are mainly two levels of training – basic and advanced – and after completing these two phases, you can go on to become an instructor, or you can take up a career in mountaineering and allied sports.
XIV. Museology/ Museum Studies
University: National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology, New Delhi. University of Calcutta also offers M.A and M.Sc courses in Museology.
Attention, all history and ancient culture junkies. Imagine studying the ins and outs of an entire museum, not just in terms of the procedures behind its organisation and management, but the collection, its documentation and research, and even the security required to keep everything safe. This course equips you with the knowledge of managing museums and its collections, and fuels your every history-related dream. Since, the course is closely linked to archaeology, the prerequisite to taking up this degree is to have at least an undergraduate degree in History, Art History or Fine Arts and Archaeology.
XV. Pet Grooming
This fascinating course was hand-crafted and designed specifically for all animal lovers and enthusiasts. While it is still a relatively new career option in India, the concept of pet grooming is slowly gaining popularity. The job essentially deals with the hygiene and appearance of pets — mainly cats, dogs and horses.
University: International School of Photonics; University of Science and Technology (CUSAT); Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi and Chennai; Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal; Periyar EVR College, Tiruchirappalli; Department of Photonics, Rajarshi Shahu Mahavidyalaya, Latur, Maharashtra; and Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI), Pilani
For science enthusiasts fascinated by quantum science and technology, various universities across the country are offering a Photonics course, which is a mixture of optical technology and electronics. The course mainly deals with photons, which are base particles of light, and understanding the various properties and aspects of light. After graduation, one can take up a job as an engineer, scientist, or even as a researcher.
XVII. Public Health Entomology
University: Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) at Pondicherry University and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi
There are many insects that have a huge impact on human health, such as malaria-causing mosquitoes. Public Health Entomology involves researching the behavioural pattern and ecology of various species that affect human health, and thereby aiding the resolution of these issues. The need for such skilled technicians arise mainly because of the climbing death tolls as an aftermath of diseases like malaria and dengue, to name a few, and more knowledge of this field can actually fuel better-informed treatment.
Once again, we assure you, this is a legitimate course. Puppetry is one of the oldest forms of entertainment, and an effective medium that has been used time and again to convey important messages across to children. The course that is being offered by the Mumbai University is a four-month part-time course that one can take after graduating from the 12th grade, keeping one of the many integral arts of Indian culture alive.
XIX. Spa Management
Everyone single person, at some point or the other, has experienced stress, which can lead to various serious health-related problems if it escalates. Spas are the haven that relieve that stress, and help you relax your mind and body, and causing that kind of peace for another person is an art that can be learnt. A spa management training institute will teach you all that you need to know, in terms of being a good masseuse as well as helping prospective owners and developers understand the business.
XX. Tea Tasting
University: Birla Institute of Futuristic Studies, Dipras Institute of Professional Studies, Assam Agricultural University, Indian Institute of Plantation Management and, Indian Institute of Plantation Management Bangalore
The world of tea is a fascinating one, and goes way beyond tea-bags in boxes on supermarket shelves, which is the only encounter most people have. There’s a particular art involved in appreciating good tea, and this art is one that can be learnt, developed and nurtured. Working as a tea sommelier involves more than just tasting tea. It requires you to understand and perceive the quality, give advice on methods of improvement, branding, all of which requires a good knowledge of cultivation and manufacturing.