The number of students opting for history courses at the PG level is increasing, and many jobs are available
Academicians and historians say that there has been an increase in demand for history courses at the postgraduate level over the past five years as the subject is of immense help to those who want to crack various competitive exams. However they also point out that research in the field of history and other specialised branches of the subject such as archaeology and museology has taken a backseat in Karnataka.
History professors from various universities in Karnataka unanimously agree that the demand for history courses is increasing every year. They say that the number of applications they receive has increased. Most students who take up history at the postgraduate level feel that the course helps them get an understanding of history which is needed for them to clear competitive exams.
Vijayalakshmi K.S., Associate Professor, Department of History, Bangalore University, says that there has been an increase in admissions at the postgraduate as well as the undergraduate level. Ravikore Shettar, Professor, Department of History and Archaeology, Karnatak University, Dharwad, says that this year, the university received around 400 applications and the number of seats available was 60.
“We generally conduct an entrance test and put up a merit list to screen candidates,” Mr. Shettar added. Five years ago, the University of Mysore had 15 to 20 students opting for ancient history and around 40 to 50 opting for the regular history postgraduation programme. However, today, the University has close to 30 seats for the ancient history programme and as many as 80 students opting for the regular history course.
Job opportunities in the field of history were earlier restricted to teaching. But now people with a specialisation in history can obtain jobs through the Karnataka Public Service Commission.
After the PG level, many students also take up the National Eligibility Test to be appointed for the post of Lecturer or a Junior Research Fellow. Recruitment for the Archaeological Survey of India, which is the premier organisation for archaeological research in the country, is done by the Union Public Service Commission and the Staff Selection Commission.
History courses are now packaged along with specialised modules on travel and tourism, and trade and commerce so that the courses are more job oriented. Prof. Vijayalakshmi said that this move has helped in attracting more students as well as creating job opportunities in these fields. Apart from these, lecturers and professors say that they are making a conscious effort to break away from certain practices in order to make the subject more appealing. “As students prefer studying courses pertaining to modern and contemporary history as compared to medieval and ancient history, we try and dwell on topics pertaining to modern history,” Prof. Vijayalakshmi added.
N.R. Rangaraju, Professor, Department of Studies in Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore, says that the teaching needs to focus more on regional history. Apart from that, professors also state that there is a greater amount of flexibility and the obsession with dates and numbers has reduced.
However, academicians and research scholars also state that the quality and quantity of research is declining in the State and suggest the introduction of a monitoring system to screen the process of research.
In spite of plenty of opportunities that are available for funding of research by various bodies including the University Grants Commission and the Indian Council of Historical Research, there are very few scholars who want to pursue historical research.
More experts needed
Sarvamangala G., Associate Professor, Department of History and Archaeology at Kuvempu University, says that only a few students want to opt for archaeological research. She also mentions that it requires more trained people in the field who can guide the research process. “This is the main reason why research is lacking in Karnataka,” she says and mentions that the Institute of Archaeology, Delhi, and Deccan College, Pune, are prestigious institutions in the country to pursue research.
Need to revive historical research
Some professors suggest methods that could help in reviving historical research in the State. Some suggest that utilisation of technology in research can aid the process. Prof. Sarvamangala believes that translating research in history, which is in English, to the regional language would help many scholars from rural areas take up research. Prof. Vijayalakshmi says, “Several topics are repetitive and reforms must be introduced to ensure that there is no repetition. Apart from that, there needs to be a common platform where universities can share their areas of research so that there will be no duplication.”