The importance of humanities and arts in a modern society is increasing everyday. However, in an Indian society, Arts and Humanities are simply considered to be a last resort. The ‘viable’ options are limited to STEM, Engineering and Commerce with the stereotypical doctor and engineer being the most sought after. Liberal Arts are seen as a sign that the children opting for them have simply failed. But what people fail to recognize is the fact that it is not a sign of failure, but a sign of an intellectual.
Their interests might be brushed aside, because parents believe these choices are taken because of 'peer pressure’ or because “it is a phase” or contradict statements of their kids by playing the “still-a-little-child'' card.
What people need to realise is that Humanities and Arts not only provide a strong creative foothold but also lay a strong foundation for a career in various fields.
The Indian Education System vs Arts and Humanities Stereotypes:
In the Indian education system, the priority given to the humanity and art streams is very less compared to the prioritization of Math, STEM and Commerce streams. This is mainly because of the lack of awareness of these opportunities and the decades old mindset regarding the value of creative streams.
In the olden days, as most families in the country dwelled in states of low-income, parents would recommend children to major in Math and STEM streams as they offered a guarantee of a job as soon as they graduated, whereas humanities and art stream jobs were scarce and had a lower range of pay.
However, the times have changed now, jobs in the creative sectors are no longer scarce. In fact, technical and financial fields are also looking out for applicants with backgrounds in a wide range of arts and humanities.
Liberal Arts and Humanities majors are no longer on the streets looking for jobs; they are now leading successful careers, and in some cases, creating jobs for others. LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Hoffman, has a masters in philosophy; YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, majored in history and literature; Airbnb’s founder, Brian Chesky, in the fine arts.
In China, Alibaba’s CEO, Jack Ma, graduated with a B.A. in English. Steve Jobs credited the success of the Mac to a calligraphy course that he attended. Freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose studied philosophy, and now holds the legacy of being one of India’s greatest revolutionaries.
While the STEM and Engineering streams have helped us conquer various fields, they only extend our power base. And what use is all this power when we do not have the right way of yielding it?
It is not a matter of which stream is better, it is about a student’s interests and the negative impact it has on their mental health by studying subjects they lack interest in. Pressurizing a student to pursue a stream they are not comfortable with, will only lead to additional stress that would affect their studies.
The Importance of Arts and Humanities in a Modern World:
Right from smaller engineering and manufacturing companies to large multinational corporations (MNCs), all operations would come to a halt without the PR and Advertising employees, writers, designers, HR team, legal advisors, and all the supervisors and managers with their psychology and communications degrees.
Words have a way of influencing one subtly and yet, can result in major changes. It takes a poetic piece to change one's perspective on matters of life and implant positive new thoughts; and how is poetry to thrive when poets are discouraged and the required education for the arts is dismissed without second thought?
Not all Picassos are born, some are made with years of meticulous practice and fine honing of their skill and how will that happen when their artistic studies are denied?
Humanities and Arts play a vital role in a person's individual development, and are vital to the society. They give us a medium to express ourselves and impact our society for a better cause.
Hence, humanities and arts are just as important as other streams and enhance our ability of expression, rendering that they have a major role in today’s society.
Here are some subjects included under Liberal Arts and Humanities for those who want to pursue something in these fields:
Human Rights and Gender Studies
Modern Foreign Languages,
Anvita Bhogadi is a 13-year-old Indian-American who is passionate about activism and literature. Her interests include, aesthetic photography, graphic designing, article writing, reading, discovering new artists on Spotify, trying to learn new languages and indecisively browsing through Netflix. She aspires to be a published poet.