To understand the neglected state of the Humanities at school level in India, we must first of all know what Humanities is as a subject and why this subject is so important in today’s society. For most of us, Humanities means something that must be left for the weak students while most of us are busy studying Mathematics and Science.
But Humanities as a subject is important for all of us as it covers every aspect of human beings: how we have come so far as humans, our history, society, art and literature and the way we express ourselves. In totality, it asks – What makes us? Academically speaking, Humanities covers a lot more subjects than you can imagine, such as History, Law, Linguistics, Cultural Anthropology, Literature, Arts, Sociology, etc. Humanities can give answers to many fundamental as well as complicated life-related questions.
No single society is stable, so society as well as the mindset of its people keeps on changing. This change is explained by the Humanities. People who used to live in harmony now live a life of discord. This change in behavior is also noted and explained by the Humanities. In a scholastic sense, Humanities helps us to think about the hurdles and challenges that we as an individual or society are facing or have faced. It helps us to understand that why certain values in our society are important and what the origin of those values is.
History is not just the past but a storehouse of knowledge. How we have come so far as humans can be very well understood by studying history. We must create a knowledge base by learning and understanding history. So by studying the Humanities, you can easily get answers to certain problems of life that our previous generations have faced. Studying the Humanities is extremely important as it shows us a path to move forward by throwing light on history, art and literature. It makes society and helps it to grow and improve. Without the Humanities, our life will keep on revolving on a single point and won’t move forward.
Apart from all these, the great practical importance associated with the Humanities makes it an important subject. Through this, we learn how to empathize with other people. By reading art and literature of other cultures, we can experience their life and associated complexity. Secondly, we need answers to, most of all, the complicated social situations, which again are given by literature. Thirdly, it explains the complexity of social relationships in the world around us.
Humanities as a neglected subject at schools in India
Humanities is the most neglected subject at school level in India. A mere mention of the word “Humanities” can bring frowns on your parents’ forehead. One must have seen or experienced a rift between parents and children if the latter like subjects of Humanities more than mainstream subjects like Mathematics and Science.
The first and the foremost reason of Humanities being ignored is the superiority associated with medical, non-medical and commerce streams, something lacking with the Humanities. It is often treated as an inferior stream. That is why, the qualifying percentage in Commerce, Non-Medical and Medical streams is more than 90%, whereas you do not even need to bother about marks while taking admission in the Humanities. The same goes for the number of students opting for the Humanities in India. Only 2% students pick Geography as a subject after 10th class, 8% opt for History, Political Science and Indian culture. Whereas rest of the students opt for subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, etc. Thus, India at the end will have less number of students who are interested in the Humanities. Major reasons behind this is are future job prospects, and the money and career associated with each subject. Then, there is the lack of awareness regarding subjects of the Humanities and their future prospects.
Opting Humanities is considered to mean that you are a weak student and not as brilliant as the one who is picking the science subjects. This mindset has to be changed. Moreover, picking up science subjects at school level again proves to be advantageous as in case student with science subject is not able to make out in any of the engineering or medical college then also he or she has the option of joining any other course. This facility is not available to the students studying Humanities. But why this difference? This disparity must be eliminated and there should be a common way out if anyone wants to change his or her subject.
Because of its cultural diversity, India has full scope in the Humanities. India has numerous languages, a rich historical, ethnic and cultural background and so can offer a number of courses in Humanities and languages to Indian as well as foreign students. But this is not happening because the subject is not promoted in a way that is required. Everyone is familiar with IIT, IIM and AIIMS but how many of us can actually tell the best institutes of Humanities in India? Commonly, Indian institutions of humanities and social sciences are not as visible as other institutes in India. Lack of funds, infrastructure and leadership results in this. Moreover, the government strongly emphasizes the subjects related to Science and technology because these give global recognition to India but the attitude is not the same towards the Humanities. This leads to discrimination in budget allocation as well.
What can be done?
To change the scenario,students must be informed of the widest possible range of subjects available. Students studying Humanities must be given equal number of scholarships as given to medical and other streams. Budget allocation must be equal. Quality of Humanities courses must be improved. Institutes and universities in India must also offer wide number of market-driven courses in the Humanities.
We must understand that if our society cannot progress without Science and Technology, then it cannot move forward without History, Political Science and the related subjects of Humanities as well.