Science Vs. Arts & Humanities

I still remember it was 1st March 2003. Arch rivals India and Pakistan were all set to clash in the 2003 WC and I was busy studying physics for my final board exams as the exam was on 3rd March. As a cricket fan, it was getting difficult for me to concentrate as the match pressure was getting on my nerves. My father, knowing it, insisted that I should follow the match. Reluctant at first, somehow I gave up on physics and enjoyed the match. India won the match with Sachin’s heroic 97 runs and I managed to get 75% marks in physics. Most of my classmates got more than 90% in physics and still had regrets but for me, it was more than expected. I still wonder whether studying physics helped me. Yes, I know about Ohm’s law and Biot-Savart law but no one made physics interesting for me. Atleast the way I wanted it to. May be if I had studied some other subject, things would have been slightly different. 

Recently, one of the parents I know sent their only son to study Engineering far away due to delusion of a “secure” life that the above-mentioned career promises, in common parlance, that the life of the kid is “set” and also may be to maintain their prestige with other relatives, whatever that means, the cost being the abstract dreams and ambitions. He had to compromise on his creative & artistic abilities that would have given him some fame atleast and more than an underpaid job. 

In our country, there has always been an endless debate of Science vs. Arts and Science students are looked upon with respect as compared to Arts.  It is a common belief that Science gives better employability to students. However, I have mixed views on the same. With both my maternal and paternal grandfather being Chemistry Professor and Civil Engineer respectively, and my father a Forensic Expert, taking science as a subject was always on the cards for me but studying science didn’t come naturally to me. It was good to know about human anatomy and the environment but studying periodic table including chemical reactions and deriving formulae in physics made me feel as if I am flying an aircraft without a license. 

Humanities or Arts is like a ‘chachera bhai’ of Science. Very few students voluntarily opt of Humanities as a stream after Class 12. Most of them are discouraged by their parents and their peers. Out of the remaining who still opt for Humanities or Arts as a stream after Class 12, do so because of they have not been able to manage a seat in either the Science or Arts stream. 

I feel both Science and art are as interconnected as heart and brain, as male and female, etc. Sometimes, science results to art (technological advancements in today’s cinema) or art results to science (tales about human flight led to airplanes and jets). A rhythmical poetry or song is just an organized maths equation. Learning literature, history, music, films and other languages thus are necessary to understand the basic beneficial, utilitarian and apparent form of science.

I studied films and film-making at master’s level, and all the while I did my best to integrate scientific knowledge into my artistic practice, since it seemed to me to be a useful tool to enlighten my path. I got drawn into it through my fascination with the aesthetic experience. Also, making and writing films helped me to study history and politics at a deeper level. I studied forensics because I was interested in human behavior. I feel Psychology and Sociology are still considered quite under-rated subjects in Indian context. 

But finally, the arts and humanities is getting its due importance as most of the students are not shying away in selecting humanities and social science subjects after class X because of the interesting career opportunities they have to offer. Not only this, it leads to a strong understanding of the social undercurrent and the environment as well as art and culture making for a well-rounded and cultivated personality. 

Now-a-days, there are so many students, especially young girls, pursuing political science, history and economics, who go on to do well in areas like civil services and international relations. Science is chosen mostly for engineering and medicine and there is an engineering college in every nook and corner.

I still feel, learning about history, geography, political science, economics, literature, philosophy and anthropology fills that vacuum inside a student that otherwise is left unattended. 
Yet to be seen how many more opt for Medical & Engineering… or will the winds change their direction soon ??

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