In recent times, the most striking news was about Jio Institute being given the ‘Institution Of Eminence’ status along with a few other institutions of higher education. Other than the fact that Jio Institute doesn’t exist and the selection process was debatable, there’s another problem that stays hidden. All the ‘Institutions Of Eminence’ belonged to a single discipline, i.e. science or engineering. Where are our prestigious colleges of arts and humanities?
Every student who pursued science by saying that commerce and arts were for the less talented, every parent and teacher who continue to feed into this discriminatory attitude among students are responsible for the state of these disciplines today.
Toppers and above average students all take a detour after their tenth boards towards science, leaving humanities and commerce for those supposedly less talented. These disciplines are wrapped in a package of unemployment, tied with a ribbon of ‘rebellion’ and labelled ‘socially unacceptable’. There are many instances in which a graduate of arts fails to find a groom or bride, as the demand for engineers and doctors, even in the matrimony market are high. Many brilliant minds land a job, make profits for capitalist companies and themselves, and the poor of the country is discarded as a necessary ‘opportunity cost’.
On the one hand, many at a later stage in their lives realise that science is not their cup of tea and on the other hand, the discipline is also not able to accommodate this humongous ingress of undergrads and graduates. The result is underemployment. ‘Why isn’t the youth going into politics?’ we ask. The answer is that they aren’t equipped to deal with society’s problems.
Arts and humanities play a crucial role when it comes to sharing constructive criticism on the government and society. Universities on these streams function as a playground for the birth of new social ideas and much more.
Today, India is one of the fastest growing economies with a GDP growth rate clocking at 7.1%. But where do we rank in the Global Hunger Index? Where do we stand on the Human Development Index? Technological development isn’t the only measure of a country’s growth. The study of society, culture, and traditions need to be revived. The golden age of Indian literature has to be brought back to life. Our progeny should not believe that India is a country where you can’t live your dream. They shouldn’t think that success is defined by getting into a college of ’eminence’ and eventually working for a corporate. They should know the realities of poverty, of how a farmer struggles to earn one meal a day for their family. They should be aware of the pain taken by our ancestors to grant us the freedom we enjoy right now. Science can’t teach us that. It’s high time that we remove the stigma from arts and other non-science disciplines.