Our President addressed the faculty and students of Central Universities and institutions around the country on August 10, 2015. As one of the many students who attended the live telecast, I couldn’t help but notice the absolute lack of any reference to humanities, liberal arts, or anything other than science and technology-based education in India during the address and the following interaction. When arguably the most important figure of your country fails to mention the very stream of your choice of studying in an address related to energising the higher education in the country, it tends to make you think about not just the education system, but also your own love and future prospects in pursuing the same.
This is not the first, or the only instance, that comes to mind when thinking about this issue. The much talked about hierarchy of pursuing science followed by other subjects is real beyond the choosing of subject streams in Class 10. It is not just the stigma and trying to explain to people how studying English, Sociology or History wasn’t a decision prompted by your lack of options. Humanities shouldn’t be considered the paltry, last-option bunch of subjects people opt for when they haven’t qualified for another. Through this, not only are we, as a country and society, discouraging young, enthusiastic students who are keen on pursuing subjects but we’re also opening ourselves up to the very real possibility of not having enough learned people in these subjects. We have been conditioned to believe that having enough doctors and engineers would take care of our needs but by ignoring humanities, we’re ignoring the people who study our interaction as human beings and are, through their studies and theories, responsible for the structure, institutions and life the way we see today.
The interaction session following the President’s address was between the heads of science and technology based institutions, who talked about the leaps in their research facilities and making India a research-based education hub. While it is always amazing to hear about the leaps and bounds our country has made in terms of research and education, it was disheartening to not hear about any such research or study conducted by students pursuing humanities or discuss how our country fares in terms of education specifically in this stream. That’s mostly because we don’t. We’re a country made of and for engineers and doctors, featuring Science research. Our education system is built around it, and everyone panders to and reinforces it.
The young doctorate student questioned why bright Indian minds should go abroad for their higher education given the myriad opportunities offered in the country itself. It’s a good question, but it further raises an important point. Are we actually offering opportunities to students not pursuing pure sciences, medicine and engineering? And since we’re not, is it unfair to not expect students to leave the country in search of better opportunities? By failing to talk about humanities and the arts, is India responsible for a part of its brain-drain itself?
Image Credits: forbesindia.com