An English teacher once humorously remarked: “English for science and commerce students is like soda in a brandy shop. If it’s there, well and good. If it’s not there nothing will happen. What matters is the other thing.”
A degree in arts is generally considered useless. I have seen many students of commerce and science who are far more brilliant than arts students. If they had chosen the course of their aptitude, they would have made a mark in life. But they went after material gains. When this matter was discussed with some of their parents, the common explanation was: “How many students from the arts section are selected in campus interviews? What kind of job can they get after a BA or MA.?”
Once in a while, we hear about a student defying the father’s instruction and taking up a course of his choice. It generally happens with students in love with music, painting or dance. But they are rare instances. Parents decide the course of study for their wards which would help them earn a decent living and get prestige in society. IAS has lost its glamour, medical science does not enchant any more. It’s IT, and MBA now.
A degree in arts need not be useless. But under the present set-up, students get disillusioned after coming out of college as the subjects taught are not relevant to life. A commerce graduate learns accountancy and when he passes out of college, he can do some accounting. But an arts graduate would not be able to do that and hence will be unemployable in that sense.
What they study in college has no relevance to real life. Can a student who has specialised in a modern Indian language design web pages in that language? Can he prepare a conveyancing? No. He has not been trained in this line. Can a graduate in English do it? Can he draft an advertising copy? If he is trained in these lines, he would be employable. There are a lot of writing and translating opportunities under a globalised economy. Colleges must provide training to these graduates in these fields. Chaucer’s Nun’s Tale must be replaced in the syllabus with report writing and drafting.
On a visit to a public library in Karnataka, I glanced at the Kannada section. There are a large number of published Ph.D., theses. Many are on one or the other caste of Karnataka. Some are on the caste of the “research scholar” himself. These scholars have become professors on the basis of their ‘research’. One scholar’s conclusion is that his is not a community of pick-pockets. The British rulers had maliciously branded it so. Just imagine what kind of students they can create.
This is not to decry the value of the humanities. The syllabus framers have not kept the future of the students in mind while preparing the course of study in the humanities. They are sinners. They are creating an illusion in the minds of young boys about education.
A dullard cannot succeed in the humanities. This branch of knowledge needs as much intelligence as is needed for science. Only a writer of Le Penses could invent the calculator. The mind that created the History of Western Philosophy could only produce Principia Mathematica.