“Democracy requires the collective participation of all involved. A liberal education teaches you how to think, reason, rationalise, draw conclusions and speak in favor of what you believe through words and actions. Hence a liberal arts education makes better citizens in democracy,” said former Union minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, while addressing a conference at the Symbiosis International University Campus in Lavale.
Tharoor was delivering the keynote address on the second day of the conference-The Future of Liberal Arts and Science Education. Maintaining that life is rarely compartmentalised into specific areas or specialisations and the real world requires knowledge about varied subjects, he said, “To me, a doctor who has studied History and Literature along with his specialisation would be far better than one who has only read piles of dusty old medical books.”
Tharoor concluded his address by saying that we must also temper our rampant scientific advancement with the morals prescribed by a liberal arts education. The three-day conference also saw the participation of dignitaries such as Professor Furqan Qamar, secretary general of the Association of Indian Universities, besides delegates/speakers from Yale-NUS, Raman Research Institute, Carleton University, Ashoka University, IISER Pune, Azim Premji University, Manipal Global, Claremont McKenna College and other educational institutions.
In his speech on the first day of the conference, Qamar threw light on various challenges faced by higher education in India such as lack of autonomy, maintaining standards of teaching and the need for revision of curriculum within various institutions. Bryan Penprase, Director, Yale-NUS, emphasised the fact that in India, liberal arts helps students to resolve problems key to the country and also creates socially conscious individuals.