You go and ask any number of young teenagers what do they want to be in their lives? Poet, fiction writer, photojournalist, anthropologist, archaeologist, educationist, sociologist, political scientist, diplomat, public policy analyst, international affairs officer, policeman, historian, economist, geographer, linguist; these are the most unlikely answers you will get.
Most of them will proudly tell you that they want to become a doctor, an engineer, a manager, a chartered accountant or a pilot.
Even if you meet some people of the aforementioned careers of social sciences and ask how did they happen to become a professional of that field; the answer in most cases would be: by chance. Most will confess that they were not able to get enough marks in their FSc exam to pursue their career in science or management. Or may be they were failed in the entrance test. Or perhaps after failing to achieve a good score in ‘more challenging subjects’ like maths and science in their secondary classes, they decided to go for some ‘easy’ subjects. Hardly a few would proclaim that their career was carefully thought and wishfully chosen by them.
This idea of some subjects being ‘more challenging’ is ridiculously interesting. People presume: more genius students are those who are good at science subjects. Therefore, who are less genius should go for subjects of arts. This rubbish ideal is so deeply rooted in the thinking that parents, even educated ones, can’t even think of their children planning to become anything less than a doctor or an engineer. Moreover, only handful of private schools provide anymore an option of choosing ‘arts’ beside computer (or pre engineering) and biology (or pre medical) groups. At college level,teachers discourage their students to go for F.A. than F.Sc.
Regardless of this absurd theory of science subjects being ‘more demanding’, it is true that opting a social science career is very risky in Pakistan. If you have talent and even the courage to go for a graduate degree in political science, history, sociology or the like subjects, your job prospects are very dim. Practically, there are few institutions where you can both earn and practice well these fields; there are hardly any research institutes, think tanks, governmental or non governmental organizations, locally funded societies or foreign funded groups or companies which could offer valuable social science careers.
Both aforementioned reasons have added to produce enormous lack of social scientists in our society. It is important for a nation to have its own doctors, engineers, managers, technicians and accountants but it is more important that it has its own ideas and approaches about and towards society, education, politics, economics, history and culture. The generation of these ideas is only possible when the nation produces its own social scientists who could read, interpret, direct and frame the society. At present, we have all the west centric tools of judgements, theories and approaches to solve our so many social problems which obviously fail quite miserably.
Those in the top ranks will have to take urgent measures to create employment opportunities for social science graduates to prevent fast approaching death of arts and humanities in the society. In parallel, people will have to get rid of their baseless rather foolish attitude of undermining arts over science. As a nation we will have to understand that unless we keep our focus on society along with science and realize the power of arts, we will neither be able to originate ideas nor identify ourselves; and thus will keep failing to become a better society and a better nation at large.