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Since When Does Studying Science Symbolize Prestige, Intellect And Success?

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By Amreeta Das:

Fraught with dichotomies as our society is, the caste system still obliquely exists in India. The reservation for schedule castes and the resultant contention during college admission and job applications, where a person with a caste certificate unjustly and illogically gets preference, ignites cries of dissatisfaction. Drawing an analogy, this fundamental bent towards segregation not only plagues our society but our education system as well.

The division of streams is gradually becoming tantamount to this. Here, academic and intellectual quality isn’t assessed based on the student’s particular inclination towards a subject. Passion and talent is slaughtered almost audibly as scores of a student grudgingly take up Science in class 11, simply to protect the family’s prestige! Doesn’t this sound wholly ridiculous?

branded education

How is prestige defined in this context? Just because some neighbour or distant relative’s son became a successful IIT-ian, that immediately becomes a goal that the class 9 student must reach to satisfy his\her family. Even students faring badly in their class 10 results with almost nil aptitude for science are forced into studying the monstrously thick biology and physics books. The student is subjected to constant mental torture at home. Often tagged as worthless, inattentive or dull head, life becomes equivalent to an infernal experience to the student. Quite naturally, his/her general process of mental and intellectual growth is compromised, and sadly enough, despite being the victims of such tortures, and suffering disastrously, they refuse to learn. Thus, their children are often victimized in a similar, if not in a more brutal manner.

But what about a student who is good in biology and chemistry, but still would prefer studying history or literature? Now, they are our modern heretics. Even such thoughts are heavily condemned, and if a student is able to break the convention, he/she is a social outcast. Ceaseless whispers and rumours would buzz around, and the only way to peace would be to use earmuffs!

Again, here, if the student is male, the torture gets trebled. In tandem with our chauvinistic society, an option always open for the girl is marriage. However, the male’s primary interest is earning a living for his family. With the promise of secured jobs and placement after graduating from an engineering college, the male student is plagued more intensively to relinquish all his personal interests for earning quick money. Also, the dream for a supposed lavish lifestyle has maddened the youth. Thus, many times, there is a willing sacrifice of one’s own creative or innovative devices to participate in the race for more money.

This insane mindset has created a different kind of business altogether: The business of imparting education through tuitions. It was quite shocking to hear that the tuition fees have now exceeded the school’s monthly fees. There are several private tutors who charge around Rs.3000 for teaching a single subject. One single batch comprises of more than 40 students. It seems the future Ambanis and Birlas, rather than being businessmen, would be these tuition teachers. And so much ado, leads to? A comfortable lifestyle, a secured future, a stereotypic job!

Life is tragically belittled and constricted into a form of existence that involves the satisfaction of blunt material pleasures. No wonder aesthetic and finer senses are almost on the verge of extinction.
The flip side of this coin bears an ugly image. This frantic chase behind the science stream has conversely made the Arts- if not so much the commerce stream, an abode of the mediocre. Quite ironically, even students who later pursue literature or other such courses, take up science, since that seems to evaluate the actual potential of a student. The future pivot, though not often desired, is still permitted. But Humanities in the +2 level is tantamount to sinning. Since subjects offered in the stream requires nothing but mindless learning, heaps of sighs are heaved when a student is fated such. This trend has slaughtered cognitive skills. Subjects such as history, literature, political science, and economics require much more than plain learning. They are subjects that tease the grey cells continually, if studied in their true spirits. Wouldn’t we be rootless individuals without an ample knowledge of history? The world would crumble without economics! Literature is the spiritual essence of human existence, a vital force behind this mundane life.

The quest for knowledge has completely disappeared with the emergence of this career- centric education. The popular argument is that a student of humanities does not get the varied career options easily available for a science student. Though there is some practical truth attached to this statement, its meaning is wholly exaggerated. I believe that if one loves a particular field, one is bound to succeed with proper enterprise. If a writer is forced to work in an IT company or, an IT official is forced to comment on Shakespeare’s poetry, the outcome is quite understandable. So, the basic failure of our society lies here. There is no recognition of individual potential. Mass mentality and inclinations are acknowledged. Since the crowd studies science, the individual must comply.

Everyone is engaged in a blind scramble for a space in the bandwagon, jealously watching its leaders. But what everyone fails to notice is that millions are simply trampled under this bandwagon. They bleed to death or live in misery. This is reminiscent of our ancient caste system, where a particular caste was branded as honourable or dishonourable, thus undermining the potentials of the individuals who comprised it. Thus, their vocations were the inherited means for survival. We are moving, once again, into this system. It would not be too shocking to witness a future where a class of science-educated aristocracy would emerge, who would assert special rights claiming more intelligence and potential than the remaining lot who were fated to study something else. Can you imagine where the writer or the poet would exist in such a society?

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  1. Aman

    Well a parent knows the capability of there kids more than any one else and based on that they choose career options for them…Yes they have to be brave enough to actually let them choose there careers and do whatever they want as they have to look after every thing right from how well there children may get self dependent …it again depends upon each and every ones phsycology…like for few happiness in life is been happy by doing things they like irrespective of whether it would yeild them economic stability or not but for many it is defined by the earnings assests money and bank balance…which is a bitter truth…yes be it what it may in todays world more than 90% of things required for human happiness and comfort are brought by money ..And that is why they force there kids to the most promising careers ( Not just engineering or Medicals but also options like Civil services) where they are ready to pay as much as fees required for coaching …As rightly said they want there people to settle either for prestige in society or for Money that will ensure them comfort for them and there children

    Second problem is not all Children are blessed with an intellectual to actually know what they want as many just go by the wind….I have seen many parents now a days allowing children to do what they want …and they in turn come up with suggestions based on trends or by where friends are going …they are totally confused …And end up sucking and wasting the savings of there parents…..To choose a carrer of own choice requires self dertermination and also people have to be self reliant to care of there own needs ..but if you say you are running behind an unkown excellence on your parents money then you are wrong..There should be changes in thinking at both the ends for parents as well as children …

    Just like In the western world people spend years on doing things of there choice and study till getting old but they also do not rely on parents for the money for there living.. As self driven motivation and struggle leads to excellence and success…Loads of famous people like Albert Einstien, Bill gates etc did struggle on there own

    All an all developing intrests has to be generated based on motivation from parents right from a ripe age so that the children build there intellegence right from the base of the subjects…That is why today we see kids at a ripe age going for dance classes ..singing classes and other sport classes this is a hint that everything is changing but despite all this if the mind of the kids is not developing in a particular field thts when parents do pitch in to give them a guidance on something that can make them a good career and earn a good living

  2. Prashant Kaushik

    No doubt, Some of the brightest minds take up humanities,mainly for their love for it. I admire and appreciate them. But the fact remains that the overwhelming majority choose it, only because they find it easier or less expensive or less time consuming to study.

  3. Adishi

    Thanks a bunch for writing this, dear author. The society’s adding on to a burden on itself by making such distinctions and the same should be put to a stop. Now!

  4. swati

    Awesome articles!! I can really relate to this article and i know many others like me whose inclination towards arts and literature is suppressed by their own parents just to get so called ” brilliant minds” tag from the society.. Parents do support all this as a hobby but when it comes to choosing career.. It has to b science oriented.. Parents will happily spend lakhs on their children’s iit n mbbs education.. But when it comes to buying novels or buying sports kit.. Its a waste of money… If u clear iit.. U bacome a superstar in your society.. But if you win an award for your article or photography.. Your parents just smile n say.. ” i am proud of u beta but in sab ke saath “padhai” pe b dhyan do..” N ironically d same parents worship sachin n amitabh bachhan.. Majority of people in our politics are from non science background.. People around the globe admire nobel laureates for arts n literature.. N fans go crazy after oscar winners… When does an iitian gather such crowd.. I am not against science students or iitians.. Myself being an software engineer…but i am sure if we even utter such opinions in front of our family and relatives.. We r supposedly being misled… We do not take pride in our work.. And when we cannot compete in the scientific domain.. Our relatives are proved right and we are termed as “spoilt”.. Each and every aspect of education has its own importance… And the talent of a swimmer cannot b judged by its ability to climb rocks…Seriously.. Our parents need to grow up!!

    1. Amreeta

      Yes Swati, indeed it is sad when adults display such blatant contradictions. Education is losing its substance and meaning in this wild chase.

  5. Neha Jha

    I’m so happy to see articles related to the topic on this website. Its extremely frustrating to see and hear stupid stuff from not just elders but also your peers. I opted for humanities in +2 and I was flooded with stupid questions from stupid people. But I was very sure of what I wanted to do.
    I can proudly say to all such morons that I have my own bank account with my own hard earned money. I began working in a media company when I was 20. And I haven’t stopped till date. However, its very sad to see people having horrible notion about humanities. I doubt it will ever change.

  6. Anubhav Shankar

    Amazing ,thought-provoking and succinct. Thumbs up to the author.

    1. Amreeta

      Thank you. I am really glad that I share my views with you.

  7. Pandya

    I found no connection between the introductory para abd the title!

  8. Amreeta

    Thank you for your recognition. But writings and articles will flood. I hope and pray that my message will one day materialize.

  9. Wridhisom

    AGREED.

    But where does this STAND in a overpopulated nation where there are a thousand times more candidate than jobs ?

    In a society where “SCIENCE stream” becomes a criterion for petty government and railway posts ?

    1. Amreeta

      Over population has no remote connection with this mob mentality. The scramble for jobs is surely a result of over population. And also because the system has not been able to or rather has not simply done anything to establish a sane mechanism of providing jobs based on skills. India suffers from a stark lack of properly channelized capabilities because there has been no proper recognition of the same. Naturally there is no development of healthy work-culture. Since you brought up the topic for railway posts. Nobody, at present takes up science for a railway post, that might be the unfortunate future outcome of people who once dreamt of becoming a doctor earning comfortably from his chamber. They do so because it is a determinant of social prestige, an unspoken norm that has to be followed. And yes globalization also plays a major factor. With free economy and perhaps excessive exposure people from developing countries want a life beyond their practical reckoning. This whole idea of ‘lucrative salaries’ and ‘comfortable lifestyle’ and that mythical security which they are all searching for ensue from an abnormal materialistic urge and lingering dissatisfaction. What you are saying is only an iota of all the reasons leading to this insanity. The rest, while probing, comes out to be disgracefully lame yet persistent. Recently Amartya Sen made this observation that India will gradually slide down the ladder of merit and progress because more and more there is less recognition of individual capability. He terms this generation “sick” and “diseased”.

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