Make way for the Arts

Make way for the Arts


Higher education in India is a 10 billion US-dollar market, with over 14 million students enrolled under various programmes. The higher education category is dominated by Arts and Humanities programmes, where the two departments together account for 65 per cent of the total market share by volume in the ‘Under Graduate’ segment.

The market scenario is similar in the ‘Post Graduate’ segment with Arts and Commerce contributing to 67 per  cent of the total ‘Post Graduate’ enrolments. Current demographic trends indicate that focused job-seekers and those seeking more general enrichment lean towards Arts and Humanities, and hence enrolments in these courses continue to grow at a lively pace.

Where curriculum fails
In a nation that produces an increasing number of scientists and engineers, the focus on the study of human society and the various expressions of humanity such as art, religion and architecture is woefully low. Study of humanities in India is considered by many as not a very prospective option. However, contrary to popular belief, Humanities offers a vast range of career options for students.

Students who have graduated in an Arts subject can opt for a variety of careers in Humanities ranging from assistant administrative officers, content editors, research assistants, psychologists, librarians, journalists, development officers, forest officers, archaeologists, lawyers and artists. A career in Arts no longer plays second fiddle to a career in Science. Careers in the Social Sciences are as lucrative and prestigious as their engineering and medical counterparts.

Humanities offers a plethora of courses and career options for students after Class 12. The important subjects that are taught under Humanities include History, Geography, Political Science, Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology.

A decade ago, viable career opportunities in Humanities were few and far between. Today, fields of work as Environmental Law, Mass Communication and Wildlife Studies are assuming formal status, requiring a keen understanding of the chosen field among aspirants. Since the study of Humanities utilises methodologies that are typically analytical, critical or speculative, it does not necessitate the aspirant to have a formal background in Science or Commerce or Management, which is more empirical in nature.

Students of Arts and Humanities are attributed with the ability to bring unique insights and critical thinking into their field of work and, hence, are widely sought-after in fields like Economics, Anthropology, Journalism and Psychology — fields which explore newer nuances.

What is unique about Arts and Humanities as a field of study is that it requires a laboratory setting to enable learning. Thus, a house wife looking at putting her time to better use, a +II pass out wanting to broaden her career choices or an individual looking at completing education in a manner that is both meaningful and remunerative can look at pursuing Arts and Humanities.

A few years ago, one couldn’t have imagined a career along the lines of Environmental Law or Fitness Therapy, Food Styling, Corporate Communications or Film Production, Photography or Sports or Social Work. But these are the jobs of the future, and some of the most exciting fields to get into. Irrespective of the subject of choice, there are hundreds of career options which youngsters dream of today.

The route to success is not necessarily paved with Science and Commerce subjects only; one can do as well by delving into Humanities. Subjects such as History, Geography, Political Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Economics, Languages, Arts or Music can open up a range of avenues in diverse fields ranging from civil services, advertising, mass communication, archaeology, market research, hotel management, adventure, and explore options in the field of business and management also.

Arts and Humanities allow a person, one who is driven by a genuine interest in understanding humanity’s desires and motives, to pursue a formal graduate or postgraduate programme in his/her area of interest even while being outside a physical educational setting. Radio and television seeks professionals from the Arts stream as they make for good programme directors, editors and news analysts.

Study of Philosophy or History allows one to pursue academia or research on the human condition; many anthropologists and archaeologists have a background in Humanities. Formal courses in Performing Arts help polish skills in Art and Drama and widens the consciousness of an artiste and creates new platforms to perform.

The study of languages enables the pursuant to join government services and opens new vistas with international agencies as interpreters and translators. A course in Sociology or Political Science equips one with relevant skills and the know-how of social activism.

Several open universities offer distance education programmes at the graduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels in History, Political Science, Sociology, Economics and Philosophy for aspirants to pursue Arts and Humanities courses part-time while attending to other commitments in life. Students could pursue a Bachelor’s degree in History, Political Science, English, and Sociology, Economics or a Master’s programme on the afore-mentioned subjects.

As our society becomes more and more complex, there is an acute need for a sound understanding of the nature of society, human interaction and expressions, in order to make it possible for ourselves to function better. Arts and Humanities as an academic discipline will encourage the existing student population and the prospective student community in discovering new arenas to apply them to and function as productive members of society.

(The author is Director, Sikkim Manipal University Directorate Distance Education, SMU-DDE)