The Forbidden Land!
Looking at the title one might end up thinking that this is a piece on Chinese culture and civilization, but no, it is about ‘HISTORY’, the forbidden subject. Many institutions have abandoned humanities and made it dysfunctional. Each and every parent wants his/her ward to only take up sciences or may be at least prefer commerce stream. But, the larger question is can we escape History?
Even in the so called cosmopolitan and which are considered as broad minded metro cities it was at all times considered a social stigma, if someone chose to take up any subject in the humanities stream. Apparently, a recent survey suggests that the trauma a child goes through by not opting for pure sciences is more painstaking than studying pure sciences.
One is considered a mediocre or substandard in intellectual capacity if one decides to study a subject from the Social Sciences. And for ever and a day degree courses in Social Sciences are looked down upon. It’s unusual to find a student with the conviction to pursue subjects like History. Parents do not support such decisions. Generally, most of the students take up these subjects as an outcome of low score or may be the failure to get seats in other streams and many such circumstances; but by no means a conscious decision.
But, here I would like to stop and tell all my colleagues and dear students that there are a number of opportunities for students of Liberal Arts and I would further have a discussion about them in detail.
The options are more than diverse. History majors sometimes go to professional schools to track library sciences, international relations, law, tourism, study of ancient and /or foreign languages, a linguistic expert, archives management, or museum studies. In fact, it is becoming observable, as increasingly businesses realize that the strengths in which history majors abound (the ability to read, write, and think critically) are helpful for their pursuit.
Graduation with honors in History opens your way to all the jobs with graduation as minimum eligibility criteria such as SSC, UPSC or IBPS/Bank PO. History honors will form the base in the subject, irrespective of the college and the university. During the masters course one can choose the area of specialization. Hence, it is recommended to pursue a master’s degree.
Career opportunities after graduating in History-
- Archaeology – After pursuing a bachelors degree in History, one can go on to study archaeology and make a career out of it. Working as an archaeologist, museologist, or a monument conservationist are some of the options. If there is love for ancient history, this can be a dream profile. MA in Archeology is most sought after course among History graduates. On a lighter note with increase in production of period movies and TV serials there is demand of people with History background who can do research for costumes, jewellery, background sets and culture-customs. There can be a venture on this direction and may join production houses as Research Assistant. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) a government body can also be the aim of many students.
Here I would like to point out that within the field of archaeology one can specialize in fossil studies, dating patterns, numismatics (study of coins), epigraphist (study of inscriptions or epigraphs; that is engravings on rocks), cartography, geology, etc. It is evident that how the subject of archaeology is highly scientific.
- Museum Curator: These are the people who preserve, display and also maintain records by cataloging. One can go for a M.A in Museology. If one has love for the ambience and amazing artefacts of a museum, and has the passion to create one; then unquestionably one can actually become a museum curator. As a museum curator, one would be dealing directly with the collection of artefacts, their display, research on various artefacts and objects and provide information to the general public. There are various colleges which provide specialization in the field during post-graduation.
- Conservationist: You would have to work for restoration of architecture. To become a conservationist one has to choose to take up a MA in Conservation. It is similar to architecture restoration, there is demand of art and painting restoration. If any student is inclined towards art then Masters in History of Art is recommended. Art historians are in huge demand in Art galleries and museums.
- Art Restoration – A specialization in Art History and work experience with museums and art galleries to restore paintings and other art forms is the core of this subject. The basic job is to restore and preserve already existing works of art like painting, sculptures and monuments which have been damaged or deteriorated. Nevertheless, it may sound easy and uncomplicated, but the job requires utmost amount of historical knowledge and precision. There is specialization in the particular field during post-graduation.
- Archivist: The study of archival sciences is what should be looked at. Archivists acquire, manage and maintain documents and other materials that have historical importance for individuals, organisations and nations. A large part of the work is related to making information accessible to users, increasingly in digital format. Archives may include books, papers, maps, plans, photographs, prints, films and computer-generated records.
- Please Teach History: If a student is interested in the subject and more than that, if he or she enjoys it, please reciprocate the love for the subject by teaching. We need good teachers! To teach in a school, a B. Ed. degree is indispensable. To teach at university level Masters in History with NET is required (many universities prefer M.Phil /PhD)
- Organisations – There are non-governmental organisations working for the preservation of the history and heritage of India where you may seek work, such as INTACH.
- Writing work – A historical background and right skills can get you work with firms employing writers; this may range from content writing for tourism websites to magazines and publishers requiring article writing, proofreading, editing, etc.
- Media – Many known journalists including Sagarika Ghose are history graduates. It provides you all the skills which you need in journalistic work such as analysing facts and reconstruction based on evidence, looking for evidence and shuffling between various probabilities, etc. A course in media studies/mass communication post BA (Hons) History is most rewarding.
- Film making – Films on social, cultural and historical aspects are very popular with audiences and it is a ripe field for students of history where they can work as writers, editors, and if they possess requisite skills then as assistants, directors, or make their own films. Non-governmental organisations, TV channels, media companies, independent filmmakers are always making films and it is beyond doubt that a good chance exists if one acquires the right skills.
It is always wise to do Masters in some field, if you want to make a serious career after studying history. You may go for archaeology and museum work or media or anywhere but here too I shall state that these jobs are not in abundance. There are not many jobs for archaeologists or museum staff and these jobs are rarely there in the private sector. Therefore, you should be prepared for what you are signing up for.
I believe that one should know what one is doing. I see students studying history around me are not even 10% who are here for history. They are here for something, which most of the time even they do not know. Therefore, it is important that you know what you want to do and what you are signing up for and work sincerely; things will fall in place and certainly we can find our way to a purposeful life.
I am an alumnus of SIES School Mumbai, with a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in Education also from Mumbai. This city taught me two traits to excel in my field – perseverance and hard work. After my wedlock with a soldier in the Indian Air Force I was able to teach in various schools. In the city of Ambala, a city on the border between Haryana and Punjab, I got the opportunity to teach in two schools. Here, where people experience jolts and jitters to enter the classroom but I took it as a variant flavour in my field and could tide through it very smoothly.
After this my encounter with the hills began and I had to unlearn a lot to teach at The Blue Mountains School, Ooty. Presently I teach History and Political Science in the Delhi Public School, Coimbatore. I strive to kindle that spark which I believe exists in all children and will illuminate their indomitable spirit of the inner self.