~ Pranav Kishore Saxena
The relative status of academic streams in the Indian education scenario is as ridiculous and nasty as the caste structure of the ‘Indic’ society is; the casteist nature of our education system has treated the Humanities and Social Sciences as the bandwagon of “duffers” for ages. However, the Natural Sciences and Commerce subjects have been treated as disciplines of the elite; that is how aptitude in India is understood. As a student of Humanities and Social Sciences (and a victim of ‘class’- room discrimination), how I wish B.R. Ambedhkar had called for ‘Annihilation of Streams’.
The moment the society manufacturers a prejudice against a student based on his/her choice of subjects, it demotivates the student and destroys the benefit of having such a large population of young boys and girls that our politicians and public intellectuals usually boast of during every political rally, TV debate and other public encounters. In accordance with the MHRD report, ThePrint published an article that said that in the past three years 50% of Government funds have been sanctioned for only 3% students who study at various IITs, IIMs and NITs. It is this chunk of Natural Sciences and Commerce students who then go abroad for further studies. How I wish Dadabhai Naroji had warned of the ‘Drain of Brain’. The rest of the 97% students study at 865 institutions with the remaining funds which means that most of the institutions for the study of Humanities and Social Sciences are deprived of sufficient funds.
In order to bridge the gap between these disciplines and improve the status of education in India, Public Policy must be included in the curriculum. Institutions like IIM Bangalore and Tata Institute of Social Science have introduced Public Policy courses. Besides this, research organizations/think tanks like PRS Legislative, Takshashila Institution, Teach for India, Centre for Civil Society and few others have introduced Public Policy courses/programmes that engage both students and professionals in legislative research, public education and strategic studies. But this is not enough to bring about a change. Public Policy is not entirely related to Science and Technology; it does not only deal with Commerce or Finance either and nor can one call it a Social Science subject. Public Policy is a framework with which any student or professional can easily integrate his/her own discipline to eventually understand how policies affect citizens. A lawyer may use Public Policy to indulge into legislative research to analyze various dimensions of the law making process and how the Parliament could work in a more efficient manner. A Doctor may use Public Policy to understand the scope of public health and dissect the effectiveness of government schemes like the Ayushman Yojna; or a Journalist may use Public Policy to study how media influences the minds of citizens.
The failure of disciplines like Public Administration has led to a divide between the ‘public’ and the ‘administration’. Moreover, Public Administration makes it to the list of one of the optional subjects of the CSE conducted by UPSC. Public Policy courses and programmes in educational institutions may make a difference in how we make policies for the public and how we educate them, irrespective of the subject they choose for their own development.
Pranav Kishore Saxena is the Editor-in-Chief of The True Voice India.
The views expressed are the writer’s own.