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Science vs Arts: Why Discriminate?

Pitted against each other for what feels like centuries, the endless debate between Science and Arts is not as polarized as before. And yet, stereotypes and parental pressure are experiences that still haunt students today. Why does this debate exist? 

After 10th grade, a monumental decision awaits most students- what stream will you pursue in your +2 years? Will you abide by society and its glorification of the sciences and pursue PCM/PCB? Or will you rebel against them and go with the defiant, vibrant Arts? Two distinctive fields- and one exhausting debate. When will it ever end? 

This debate, contrary to popular belief does not serve science students- even if it may place them on a pedestal. The aftereffects of this argument manifest in the form of unyielding pressure to live up to other people’s ideas of success. Not everyone’s definition of happiness is cracking IIT or NEET to become a doctor or an engineer. Not every Arts student will end up destitute and homeless (unless they crack UPSC, of course)

These beliefs are demotivating and affect students more than you think. Parents justify this with the most inane of reasons, with some parroting statements like “You can do Arts after Science, but you can’t do Science after Arts”. 

It is commonly assumed that Commerce students are exempt from this tyranny, but that is false. Commerce too, is not the “middle road” it is assumed to be. Their worth is tied to their subject choices- does their subject combination include Maths, or excludes it? Do they want to be a Chartered Accountant? The interferences never end and to maintain the Status Quo parents disregard their children’s wishes, claiming that they “only want what’s the best for your future.” Studying something that you hate just because it may “pay you more” or “provide more opportunities” does not sound like a bright future- rather, it sounds like sentencing yourself to a life of boredom and frustration. 

Let’s say you cave into the pressure and decide to study Science because your parents adamantly refused to enrol you in Arts. Now what? Do you get to look forward to more opportunities? Here’s the bitter reality. 

Science students don’t win in the number of opportunities, but the quality. But even the few quality opportunities have way too many applicants.

Harshal Shanker Prasad, 4th Year MechEng student, IIT BHU 

Competition, scarcity of jobs available and opportunities are not limited to a particular stream. It was extremely disheartening to hear responses from students who decided to pursue Arts and the eventual judgement and scrutiny that accompanied their decision. These experiences range from mild to absolute extremes.

When I told my father I wanted to take Arts as my stream, he refused to hear me out. He said he would go down to the school himself and change my stream to science. I told him I wouldn’t attend any of my classes if he did that.

Anonymous 

My brother is an IIT graduate who did his PhD from Stanford and worked at NASA as a researcher. I decided to pursue Arts, and this decision came with a lot of backlash from my parents – and my brother too. My father is an Arts student himself, and yet I had to endure the classic “Science le leti” till the very end of my board exams. When I wanted to buy a laptop – they disregarded my views, claiming that my brother would know more and my knowledge holds no value.

Richa Shukla, 2nd-year student, BA English Honours, Hindu College

I was pretty good at Science in 10th grade. Yet, I chose to go with Arts. I scored 97% in my 12th boards and people dismissed my efforts and hard work by saying “Arts mai toh koi bhi number laa sakta hai.” An old teacher of mine told my parents I should’ve taken Science because I was good at it. He told them I could’ve been a doctor instead. That remark sparked a literal war in my house.

Khushi Siddiqui, 2nd year English Honours student

I scored 98.8% in my board examinations. My parents and I were over the moon. And yet, as soon as my relatives got to know – they started pushing me towards becoming a Civil servant. A senior of mine literally said this, and I quote- “The existence of an Arts student holds no value. Their life is meaningless.” So insecure for what?

Anonymous 

Let’s travel to the other end of the spectrum. Science students themselves acknowledge how both the fields are equally important, and how pitting them against each other is futile. 

The possibilities for new inventions or discoveries lie in both fields, and they (Arts students) have my utmost respect.

Nikhil Yadav, MBBS student from Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela campus, Philippines

They also have their own set of stereotypes to fight. In the past few years, the availability of jobs has gone down drastically. The market is inflated with too many applicants, and not enough positions to apply to. Even institutes like IIT are finding it hard to place their students this year amidst the pandemic, with many companies rescinding their job offers due to the dire state of our economy. Let’s not forget how women in STEM are treated, and the discrimination that follows them everywhere- from opportunities to giving credit, women in STEM have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts. 

Times have changed. Career opportunities are not limited to 9-5 corporate offices and wearing lab coats. Content creators, freelance writers and advisors, start-ups- from jobs as crazy as Panda nurses (who earn $32,000 in a year. Click here to know more) to fitness YouTubers who skyrocketed their income making workout videos at home in the pandemic- we are not as limited as before. Globalization and the internet have opened multiple doors for us, ones we would be foolish to ignore in the face of more traditional options. This stigma will lead us nowhere and become our eventual downfall. 

As a society, we need to evolve past these stigmas to grow. No world is perfect without balance. Glorifying one field while shaming the other helps no one. Life is too short to subscribe to a meaning of success that doesn’t leave you fulfilled or happy. 

Read Also:

The difference in college infrastructure: Arts vs. Science

Poetry is Not a Luxury: A Response to the Secondary Treatment of the Arts & Examining New Education Policy

Featured Image Credits- The Web Writer Spotlight

Chiransha Prasad

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