Monthly Archives:September 2018

Economics – The Poorer Cousin?

24 Sep 18
Sukrit Vijaykar
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Contributed by Samantha Peters

(A Professor of Economics in Sydney, Australia)

Economics as a subject, and economist as professionals, came into prominence in modern times after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. This was almost a century after Economics came to notice during the First depression.

One of them, a Professor Nouriel Roubini, had predicted the Financial Crisis of 2008 as far back as 2005. However, from the time it was published till the time the crash actually happened, he was called “Dr. Doom”. The quote from Laurence J. Peter, author of the famous Peter Principle  which states,” An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.” was fished out of the bag.

Even after the crash did occur, people did not seem to give him due credit for having analyzed the situation properly.

So, why are we encouraging you to examine a subject like economics which not only doesn’t seem to get due credit for its study, but is also seemingly less paid than regular Commerce subjects like Accounting and Finance?

We are doing so because economics is the foundation to the understanding of accounting practices and finance, but is not as exact in its application.

The basis of Economics is the study of psychology or rather the narrow version of understanding why people spend what they do, how much will they spend versus how much they will save and how can governments control this behaviour to meet their agenda.

Such kind of knowledge of application is increasingly getting currency in its importance for adjusting an organization’s strategies in the market in order to improve its financial performance.

While some amount of mathematics does enter the subject, particularly in specialized branches like econometrics, it is entirely possible to progress in economics without being burdened by most of the complexities maths involves.

In practical life, the understanding that an economist acquires is often suppressed due to the professional considerations of the organization she works for. Nevertheless, since the knowledge is available to her employers, she does perform a critical task in whatever organization she works in.

Liberal Arts

13 Sep 18
Sukrit Vijaykar
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Contributed by Nivedita Nair

(A Liberal Arts Student in Pune, India)

For students who think liberal arts are meant for those that don’t get the coveted 85% plus, think again!

All the writers, copywriters, journalists, and the rest of society that brings that knowledge to the forefront have had a background in liberal arts.

It is an education that brings the best within the student to the forefront. A liberal arts education invites engineering students to study philosophy and history so as to put an ethos and sense of ethic into their study and doesn’t reduce arts and humanities students to unproductive members of society who ought to have chosen otherwise but equips them with critical thinking skills that take them farther than what an income from a job may give.

The intention and expectation of this is that a person who comes out of a liberal arts education with a degree is not a mere product that slots themselves into a market or an industry based on their BA, Bsc, or Bcom, but is a well-rounded individual who sees their education as more relevant to their personality and their passions, rather than their profession.

Liberal arts is not a stream like the very traditional division of science, commerce, and arts – the same division which tends to divide people who follow a stream within ‘productive’ members of society or ‘losers’. In fact, it is an ethos that stemmed out of ideals of education and academia that orient a student towards having a wholesome education in a specialization of their choice that is complimented by a variety of other subjects across fields.

According to the liberal arts ethos, education is not equated with occupation. It is an education provided in several universities in our country in the hopes of creating a generation of people who can pursue their interests and passions, cross the limitation of divisive streams, divisive thought, towards a cohesive society that orients itself with the freedom of thought and expression.

Hence, a liberal arts education outrightly and unabashedly promotes the intermingling and interdisciplinary study of law with history, the fine arts with mathematics, and other combinations as such. More often than not, liberal arts students graduate with a wealth of knowledge in multiple fields that in turn pushes them to turn their education into something that contributes to their sense of self and place in society and is not just one step towards a job and income.

On an individual and personal level, the privilege of a liberal arts education sustains itself on building and maintaining curiosity in everything, questioning everything, putting thought and action in the same place, and challenging the oppressive stark reality of life.

At the end of the day, a liberal arts education is for a person to whom contributing to the society at large is at least as important, if not more so, than the money you make from your profession.

Is there a future without Science or Commerce?

07 Sep 18
Sukrit Vijaykar
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Introduction

Every year, once Class X results are out, no matter which board, students have to decide what stream to take. This, for most students, is not an easy task because most of them do not know what it is they want to do. This statement is in no way critical of students. Rather, it is a stark reality of life. Even this author remembers that it was not until the last moment that he decided that he wanted to go down the field of science. But I digress here.

What is reasonably clear for most students though is what they don’t want to do. The number of children who are clear they don’t want to go down the path of maths and science keeps on increasing every year. Quite a few of this number are browbeaten down this path and, more often than not, this has led to a troubled life for the student.

To be fair to parents, there was a rationale for this thought process which was primarily

  • It is easier to find decent paying jobs in these fields
  • The opportunities in other fields seemed severely limited
  • There is a lack of glamor in these kind of streams

Hence it was felt that people going to the Arts / Humanities streams would be considered as ‘losers’

However, this is no longer the case. There are many fields in the humanities which are not only extremely remunerative, but are also ‘exciting’

A few Alternatives

In this article we are going to do a quick coverage of few such fields. The number of fields will be few and the coverage will be superficial in the interests of brevity, but we are happy to enter into a dialogue with parents and students who are interested in exploring further down this path.

Economics

Economics has arguably been the one exception to the ‘Only the science stream has decent paying jobs’ mantra.  There are some very prestigious colleges in economics all around the country. There is a caveat here though that economics does involve working with numbers i.e. Maths cannot be escaped.

Law

The legal profession is one of the most expensive to engage. If we require the services of a lawyer, we will find its costs rivalling costs of medical health. The moral of the story is that it is a highly paying profession. Earlier, law was an option you exercised after graduation. However, over the last 10 to 15 years, several good schools which offer a five year dual graduation program after class 12 have emerged. Getting into these colleges is a bit tough, but students from a good college will easily get jobs which will pay them Rs. 5 – 6 lakhs per annum.

Psychology

The fast paced life we lead these days has resulted in many people of all ages seeking counselling to deal with all aspects of life, be it professional or personal. As a result, good clinical psychologists can command extremely high rates for counselling sessions.

Social Welfare

People who study this subject normally would look to work with NGOs who offer pretty decent salaries for employees.

Home Sciences

Home sciences had been a branch which had attracted girls who were not particularly interested in a professional career in a conventional sense. However, the courses taught there as well as the techniques can be put to good use especially for people who are interested in starting their own small industry.

While a couple of streams like Nutritional Science and Dietetics need a science background, there are a few others like Human Development and  Family Resource Management which don’t.

Languages

In a world which is rapidly growing smaller, it is more important than ever to understand the language spoken not only by people of other states, but also people of different countries. The demand for interpreters and translators in languages like Mandarin, Japanese, German and French languages (among others) has always been high. Such jobs can also provide a decent income to people wishing to make a career out of this knowledge.

Fine Arts

Fine arts is the study and making of visual works of art like painting, photography and film making. It also includes other streams like dancing, music, pottery, sculpture, drama etc.

Conclusion

There are many alternatives in today’s world that are as mainstream as Medicine / Engineering / Chartered Accountancy  used to be in a time not long past. So do not fret yourself and / or your children as the case may be about wanting to take a career which involves the ‘Arts / Humanities’ stream

Teachers Day

05 Sep 18
Sukrit Vijaykar
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Every year, the people of India celebrate September 5 as Teacher’s Day.

Historically, today is the birthday of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the 2nd President of India. But to us, the name is just that, a name. Because we have not experienced him and in today’s speed read days of too much input, very few people can even recall the name if asked.

Nevertheless, the concept of ‘Teacher’s Day’ is a very important one in our lives. In ancient Indian Culture, one day was set aside as ‘Guru Purnima’ where the teacher was honored and felicitated. The construct of Teacher’s Day is very similar, if not the same.

So, what does Teacher’s Day mean for us in this day and age? Today, we are faced with literally an overdose of information on virtually any topic under the sun. Given that ‘Google Madam’ can help us locate this information makes us wonder “Do we need a teacher at all?”

We have seen this question arise right from the time ‘movies’ hit the scene. It was repeated when records were invented, when John Baird invented television. It perked its head up when the cassette player was invented, as also the video cassette recorder, then CDs and then the internet.

But we have never seen teachers vanish off the face of this earth. Indeed, if what we see around us is anything to go by, teachers continue to not only flourish, (like ourselves), but also continue to mushroom round the world.

Why does this happen?

This happens because a student needs somebody who can help her convert the plethora of information that is available everywhere round him into knowledge.

For instance, we always advise youngsters to write tables everyday as a memory aid rather than just recite them. The reason, we recommend writing is that the visual pattern of the numbers side by side triggers a memory that just reciting can never reproduce.

This is the input from teachers that makes all the difference to students the world over.

So, teachers all around the world, CELEBRATE. You have something to be proud of yourselves for!

 

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