Prof M Sai Baba, T V Raman Pai Chair Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru
Q. How will you compare the pay scale of a Science graduate, Humanity graduate and a person with an Interdisciplinary course?
In the hierarchy of employment, the sequence followed generally is engineering, medical, basic sciences and humanities, with the decrease being steep when it comes to basic sciences and humanities. While the difference in the pay scale between science graduate and humanities graduate may not be significant, it is the adequacy of opportunities is the problem. The need for having candidates with interdisciplinary backgrounds is being realized in the recent past. Both in carrying out quality research or in analyzing the implication of deploying technology, or understanding the complex issues like climate change, the training in the interdisciplinary courses becomes an asset.
Q. Do you think the department of humanities receives less funding as compared to science and engineering domains?
There is considerable scope for enhancing funding in the domain of humanities. While the funding is provided to the science and engineering domains technical department is not that adequate, comparatively, they are in a better position. Also, the research to be undertaken in the domains of humanities and social sciences is of a different nature. Field visits, interacting with artisans play an important role. Some positive steps are being taken in the recent past by integrating and bringing all the sciences under one banner.
Q. Adding humanities subjects to a core engineering degree, what is your point on this?
It is seen that specializing is leading to being ignorant of the implication of the developments. Inadequacy is seen in the people who toiled for the development of technology in anticipating the possible consequences of the developments. Integrating social sciences and humanities to core engineering degree would prepare the learning minds to have 360-degree view and prepare them to look for solutions.
Q. How should we educate parents to make them understand the importance of an interdisciplinary program?
This is the major challenge. With so much diversity in our society, in terms of both academic, financial and cultural, and the fact that in India it is the parents who largely finance the education of their wards, need to educate the parents is paramount in bringing the change. The outlook of parents more or less is focused on the outcome of the education resulting in good employment, both in terms of remuneration and facilities one gets when employed.
Q. Do you think a job is the only factor in India, why students do not choose arts and social science subjects?
Grudgingly need to say yes. A developing society like ours, it is natural for people to see getting educated as means of ensuring a secure future. We are still far away when the student focuses on what gives happiness to him or her in learning without looking for employment opportunities. With a large number of middle-class population and aspiring to be successful, it is natural for the students to look for adequate employment. A change is being seen where young people are opting to learn arts and social sciences, the demand for humanities courses started in some of the premier educational institutes is satisfying development. Such courses are in the early stage and yet to see where those gradating from such institutes are landing.
There is an urgent need to educate the public about the need for
interdisciplinary learning; more important is to educate the parents