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History: New syllabus designed to foster scientific temper

While there is a lot of emphasis on History of India (four papers taught over three years), the students get a chance to study History of Far East, Europe, USA/Russia etc, writes Suresh K Srivastava.

delhi Updated: Jun 18, 2008 01:10 IST

History that, as a subject, at one time was considered a passport to the civil services has during the last few years lost that position of primacy. Disciplines like Commerce and Economics are now the much sought after courses.

This does not mean that History, as a subject, has lost its attraction for the young generation. One has come across students who are passionate about the discipline and want to study the subject for the love of it.

Studying History in one of the colleges of Delhi University is a different experience altogether. The syllabus that has been revised over the years in light of scientific enquiries into the past exposes the young minds to historical processes covering different civilizations.

While there is a lot of emphasis on History of India (four papers taught over three years), the students get a chance to study History of Far East, Europe, USA/Russia etc.

The paper on Ancient and Medieval Social Formations taught in the first year prepares the students with the key concepts in History that helps him in understanding other histories in the second and third years.

There is a general apprehension among students of History being concerned only with dates and dry facts revolving around personalities.

One must add that while chronology is an important part of History, the course content and the method of teaching History in Delhi University help the students develop a critical appreciation of the past and a scientific temperament. They thus prepare themselves not only for the much-coveted career in the civil services but also for serious research and other diverse professions.

There is a strong misconception that studying history considerably limits your job opportunities — either civil services or research or teaching.

Students with a degree in History have gone on to pursue careers in journalism, law and management apart from teaching and civil services.

One has also the option of pursuing a career in archaeology and related fields. An interesting course to pursue after graduation would be a post-graduate degree in heritage management.

But what I think is most important is that studying History is a great liberalizing experience, a journey through the many faces of human values.

Vice-Principal, Hans Raj College