Institutes like IITs foster the philosophy of holistic growth and development for their
students. These institutes not only encourage the students to take part in extra curricular
activities, but also explore other areas/studies of their interest by taking up courses in fields
different from their respective disciplines. One such endeavour is to engage students in
humanities and social science (HSS) courses. Students in IITs are required to take some
HSS courses along with their regular courses. The aim behind this is to give students a wide
perspective on varied discourses. Introductory courses on philosophy, world civilisation,
Indian knowledge systems, politics, communication, anthropology and so on are taught to
students to familiarise them with soft studies. Now one can argue- what purpose will a HSS
course serve for engineering students? And won’t these mandatory HSS courses come with
the cost of insufficient technical education?
It is undeniably true that introducing students to humanities has underlying positive aspects.
But what kind of HSS courses should be offered is a question worth pondering. The courses
should be such that they can engage the students who have come primarily for technical
education. For example, a course on ‘contemporary concerns of India’ can not just expose
students to the challenges that India is battling with, but also requires students to implement
their technical knowledge attained so far in order to address those issues. It therefore makes
sense to design and offer such kind of courses which won’t just be a random humanities
course for students enrolled in technical institutes, but would involve their active
engagement as well.
A degree in B.Tech requires completion of some basic science and core engineering courses
that should be usually done within 4 years. Now if there are mandatory courses in HSS, it
would naturally reduce the number of engineering course that a student can do in 4 years. It,
therefore, necessitates to rethink on the number of mandatory HSS courses an engineering
student should take.
A proper thought on HSS courses designed specifically for the engineers-to-be will
acquaint them with soft skills which along with their technical education can have various
implementations at real-life problem solving and policy making levels. And if this can be
achieved, then the credibility of HSS for technical institutes would not be challenged in.
You can read a counter opinion to this article here.
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