Amid the Ukraine war, many big leaders say it is an opportunity to set up more medical colleges, as most evacuees are medical students. We often listen to the political parties during election season. They measure their education goal fulfilment on the basis of how many new IITs/ AIIMS they opened. Have you ever heard of it when they speak out about the opening of social science universities or liberal arts colleges? The government allotted very less funds to Social Sciences, while science got very high funding compared to Humanities. Advocating one set of subjects is not only showing biases but also breaching the right to education and the right to choose.
STIGMA IN SOCIETY
The society has had hierarchised the streams, the student who did well in the board exam will take science, the ‘so called’ prestigious subject according to the common notion. The rest will choose Commerce or Arts, without taking care of their interest. The pseudo status attached to certain subjects will convert the education system into a rational prison. Thus, the one board exam decides the future of young minds. Instead of enjoying the student life they indulge in cutthroat competition and unconsciously fill their mind with violent and toxic thought. The desire for instant material success also compels individuals to be a successful robot rather than a curious wanderer. For many people Arts is not a milking subject and the source of income is not great in this subject, but the fact is different. Many billionaires in India are from Arts and Humanities backgrounds including the very famous Anand Mahindra.
A MARKET-DRIVEN COURSE
Ivan Illich in his Deschooling Society wrote ‘education should be a liberating experience in which the individual explores, creates, uses his initiative and judgment and freely develops his talents to the full.’ He regards schools as repressive institutions which indoctrinates pupils, smoother creativity and imagination induces conformity and stupefies students into accepting the interest of the powerful. The education system is influenced by capitalism, school work as an agent of industries and provides ready-made workers to the industry, students are taught to see education as a valuable commodity to be consumed, and Liberal arts or humanities are not fit for the capitalist class. Arts students are considered free thinkers and not good followers of those in authority.
The coaching industry also creates havoc in society through big banners and by celebrating IITs/AIIMS entrance crackers that create a deep impression in the mind of school-going students and their parents, sometimes coaching mafias purposefully defame elite humanities universities like JNU as an anti-national and called them Politically motivated students. A structured and well-framed rumor spread by coaching mafias and capitalists that arts are a useless stream and science is the only option for their bright future.
THE TRUE PICTURE
If we see the fact logically we can understand that no subject needs to be hyped or defamed. Success comes from every field. We have many examples of scientists but at the same time, we have bundles of successful people from art backgrounds. Earlier, we celebrated the Indian Nobel laureate Abhijeet Banarjee, a graduate from JNU in economics. The majority of our top cabinet ministers hold degrees in Arts be it Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman or External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. From top Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan to NSA Ajit Doval proudly introduced themself as a humanities graduate. We have to realize that many students do not get true guidance, peer and societal pressure drive them to take a certain and specific course. The time is ripe to uncover the truth and tell them it is the zeal to work that matters more than subject or stream. Liberal arts and humanities tell us there is something beyond objectivity, to understand society empathy and subjectivity is as vital as rationality. There is no doubt we need to open more medical and engineering colleges but we can’t deny the fact that we also need more Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), JNU and BHU so that every section of the student will get a chance and voice otherwise our new generation will only function like an unethical machine.
About the Writer: Pushkar Kumar Jha, pursuing M.A in Sociology (2nd year) from JNU, New Delhi.