Recently, Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Computer Inc was on the radar of most Indians for calling out the lack of creativity in our society. He did receive a ton of backlash, but also praise for stating reality.
It’s high time we question whether we Indians lack creative abilities or does the Indian learning setup fail to provide incentives for being creative.
After all, when Steve Wozniak commented on the lack of creativity amongst Indians, he meant there was a gap in identifying creative students in the education system.
Our land is full of ancient architectural wonders like Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar (the largest traditional observatories in the world), the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Sri Ragam (the tallest Gopuram in Asia), the Gol Gumbaz (whose dome is second only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome) and the Rani Ka Vav (an inverted temple that survived for centuries buried under a river).
So why is it that we have only one Balkrishna Doshi today?
The last time we won the Nobel prize for literature was also the first time we won the prize – a century ago in 1913 by Rabindranath Tagore.
We may argue that perhaps some awards are not being given to the deserving. But we do have to question, in a country of 1.3 billion people from various cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, why do the deserving fail to find a platform?
Creativity exists in different ways in different people. Identifying them and developing that talent is not just advantageous for the individual, but profitable for the nation itself.
Let’s look at some hard data to analyse the importance of arts in our nation.
- Around 31 million people in India are currently looking for jobs. This is the highest since October 2016, according to a report published by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)
- According to the draft of Systematic Country Diagnostic of The World Bank, between 2005 and 2012, over 13 million people entered the working age, while only 3 million jobs were created.
- The All India Survey on Higher Education reports that at the undergraduate level the highest number (40%) of students enrolled in Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences courses.
- The Archaeological Survey of India has currently over 2500 jobs vacant and is facing a massive staff crunch.
- India’s per capita spend on arts and culture in 2010-11 was 60 times less than England, 36 times less than Australia and 17 times less than China – as reported in IndiaSpend
There is an obvious pattern to be recognised here, a deficit of jobs, coupled with a higher enrollment in one particular course/s. And with no proper backing for the higher enrolled courses, it will inevitably result in a gap in employment.
This gap can neatly be summed up by the World Bank’s statement that it is not just the number of jobs that need to be increased, but also the types of jobs.
Case in point, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and it’s 2500 unfilled positions. In ASI, be it archaeology or conservation, work has either come to a standstill or is being carried out at below-par quality levels owing to a staff crunch, sources in the body told Mail Today.
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With around 101 posts in the senior rungs being vacant and 63 in the conservation section, the culture ministry has also drawn huge criticism as six top museums in India have no museum directors at all.
Censuring the ministry of culture, a parliamentary panel on tourism and culture noted that –
“…when a large number of youths are unemployed in our country, it is cruel on the part of the ministry of culture and ASI to keep thousands of posts vacant.”
Another hindrance is the common notion that increasing funds for arts and culture won’t do much for the economy.
But this is not so. In December 2013, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released preliminary estimates that in 2011, arts education added $7.6 billion to America’s GDP, in that year alone. Arts education as an industry employed close to 17,900 workers – whose salaries and wages totalled $5.9 billion.
Again, the common counter-argument is that the US is a developed state and it cannot be compared to India. So let us consider the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM).
Located in Kabul, ANIM has been receiving funds from the World Bank to fund development projects in Afghanistan. Through the arts, ANIM aspires to show a new face of Afghanistan: a place tolerant to freedom of expression, intercultural dialogue and positive social progress.
Back when it started it had one female student, today it employs about 60 teachers and staff members and has about 176 students. The school performs concerts and tours regularly, like the memorable one performed in 2013 by the 60-member group which sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall and at the Kennedy Center in America.
The results are clear and evident. Arts is a major part of the economy. And students willing to pursue arts should be confident enough that there will be a platform for them not only to perform but also to earn.
Here’s where inciting creativity at a young age is important and finding the right path for your future is beneficial for you and the country. You can read about what you want to pursue in this detailed article.
So in a lineage of people that produced arts that bewildered minds and architected incredible feats, Indians certainly do not lack creativity. But need encouragement to follow their creative paths.
With that in mind, we have to be supportive of the arts community and rekindle the fire in us that only the arts can create.
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)