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Humanities Stream Gaining New Heights

In some science research institutes in Kolkata, Rs 12,000 are provisioned monthly for the students pursuing their MSc programmes. And, don’t mistake it for a stipend, as charities continue even on a student’s failure in examinations.

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Though the phenomenon is not new, the crescendo for the detest against the disciplines and streams of humanities recently, has gained new heights. The Government is also promoting teaching science and technology in various educational institutions. And these institutions are of various levels- from the primary to the different degrees of higher education- graduation, postgraduation, doctorates, researches and much more.

Blame it on the stars or the destiny of the pursuers of the stream of arts (humanities, that is!), the makers of the discipline are getting outnumbered by their counterparts of science and technology.

The lofty ideals in which the stream of arts and humanities educate every human, seem less to equip our youth. Particularly, it is so, when their skills of employability are talked of. To look for the means to manage his/her survival is primarily important than other things. But, what our dear readers fail to notice is that for a full development of any populace, both bread along with the manners to eat it, is indispensably required.

To care for one’s bread one is free to look for all the legal means that one could bring to use. That’s why embracing various streams of science and technology has gained ground. And it has been more vehemently and particularly, in the last decades or so. And in this regard, the government and the society are hands in gloves to each other, probably unknowingly. The scientific and technological feats particularly of the information technology, have driven people and the governments, the world over, to actively pursue studies and researches of the technological trend.

The Inherent Perils of Having Parochial Perspective!

The endeavor of the society and the government, to primarily aim for studying only science and technology, seems to be quite hazardous. And, this can be seen by the stories we regularly note in various news and communication media, by the pretext of terrorists. These terrorists, despite skilling greatly in technology and science, pose serious threats to the world. And this they achieve, by improvising techniques of making cost-effective yet lethal bombs and arsenals by employing their own resources, for which, their education of technology and science, played the pivotal role.

The spell of equipping one’s child, and particularly boys, with the scientific and technological education, is so binding that not even the government is sufficiently lending its ears to the perils that one buys by overlooking as sensitive and educating a stream, as of humanities.

In a nutshell, what will be the use of such a society where every person knows how to manufacture a bomb out of the humble and modest resources he/she has, but fails to assist another in times of sufferings and distresses?

Notwithstanding the compulsions undergone by the society to arrange for its bread and butter to the extent of pursuing myopically, the studies of sciences and technologies (the more tangible, remarkable and world-acknowledged results of which are yet to be felt by its members, on a mass scale, as India has produced only a few and finger-countable numbers of scientists and technologists of the global measures), the onus, it seems, can be shifted to the government.

Disparity Illustrated

This is because the various agencies and ministries of the government responsible for the promotion of streams and disciplines of humanities have failed on the front of the research activities. They either don’t provide scholarships to the researchers of humanities in sufficient numbers or neglect them, once a meager amount of stipend is allocated to them for a “lesser than needed” period of time. Why then, an array of different grants and scholarships reward the labor of a scholar of science and technology, right from the levels of high school to those of research and higher, but not the toil of its counterparts of humanities?

For instance, followers of science with reasonably good marks in classes XI-XII can avail the benefits of scholarships worth more than Rs 70,000 per year. One need not take any examination to earn this grant. These grants can be restarted every year undertaking some project work in any research institution financed by the Central government. The scholarships proceed right up to the finalization of the master’s degree and, under some requirements, can also be availed for a doctorate degree.

The train of conveniences for the science and technology pursuers does not end here and has even more to offer. Such grants entertain about 10,000 beneficiaries each year.

Illustrating through another example, in some science research institutes in Kolkata, Rs 12,000 are provisioned monthly for the students pursuing their MSc programmes. And, don’t mistake it for a stipend, as charities continue even on a student’s failure in examinations.

The million-dollar question is, why must students of humanities undertaking their MA, not avail similar benefits? Why must taxpayers’ money be paid to third-grade pupils of science, while meritorious aspirants of humanities deprive themselves of similar opportunities?

(In)Competency of Research

Research is the yardstick to measure the vitality of any institute of higher education. Hence, taking every step to fortify research is the need which can be nourished by the government. Nourishing research also amounts to the student’s awareness of the field and knowing how much work has or hasn't been accomplished in that sphere. Even papers that just review a literature can be of use. But, they should offer some important contributions via finding answers to the questions as from what fields, the earlier researchers have quit and also finding the possible reasons for it. The status of academics and research-writings in our institutions and universities remains very low. A big factor for that is lack of originality and an input of reasoned analysis in writing. It all boils down to the fact that research in these institutions of humanities, severely lacks creativity and inventiveness.

Besides, the problems of a structure of research associated with its culture may be that they are greatly western (American) to be welcomed by the Indian audience, wholeheartedly. Also, the problems do not consider cultural differences in thought. This also leads to dissimilarities in various styles of writing.

Still, students are awarded despite their shallow mindedness, negligence of opinion and dearth of inventiveness and critical thinking. In fact, this problem goes deep to the roots. Unless students are learned to theorize (and not scared from doing so), they can't build creative skills, which can and should take place, when researching, also.

(In)Competency of the faculty

Another front that is being perilously overlooked by the concerned authorities, including government, is that of the competence of the faculty employed in the institutions of humanities. To a nation that boasts of a great galaxy of stars from the world of arts and philosophy, like Rabindra Nath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Arvind Yogi etc., it is a shame that the higher learning institutions pertaining to the arts and humanities are facing a great dearth of competent teachers and mentors. Consequently, the methodology of teaching in many institutions doesn’t promote thought-provoking ambiance. The students, as a result, are left with the only option of cramming up the facts and regurgitating them during their examinations. Thus, they don’t contribute, in any manner, in producing the original ideas and solutions of theirs.

Hence, to induct teachers and mentors of repute and a certain competency is the need of every minute spent on reinforcing the scenario of humanities. Leaving the issue unaddressed will certainly translate to a metamorphosis of problems into catastrophe. Hence, the problems regarding this front must be looked upon for solutions, as soon, as possible.

The oceanic gap between the studies and their applicability

The students of Humanities are not familiarised with the abilities that can provide them with any utilitarian value. And, even if this front is taken care of, it is usually done in a hurried fashion. Certificate courses that are made mandatory and extra classes are the tools to achieve it. It is unfortunate that it is not achieved through subjects incorporated into the syllabus. Also, the education system refuses to acknowledge intellectual processes and soft skills as disciplines, that need to be taught. Instead, the system relies on certificate programs and other 'extra' courses or chooses to ignore it completely. When stuffed into the already engaged schedule of students, they don’t take such classes seriously. Also, such classes are attended half-heartedly by students who care for not much more than attendance.

And it all boils down to…

If mankind has nurtured the bamboo plant to make articles out of it, sell it and earn its bread, it, at the same time, has developed the mesmerizing tunes of the flute made out of that very same bamboo. This was the saying of one the prestigious writers and thinkers of yesteryears, Ram Vriksha Benipuri. It is true that man not only needs bread, but it also needs some playful instruments to creatively pass his time after having that bread, in order to attain full peace of mind. And it’s the duty of the society and the government (being an essential part of the society), to nurture the bamboo and the flute, equally, not being biased to any one of them. Current times demand a little more attention to the highly educative stream of humanities. Hope, the science brethren won’t mind too much!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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