Edu: An youngman asks some questions, another youngman responds

June 12, 2021

Okay. Apparently an youngman (ym1) has become youthfully angsty – and is annoyed and disappointed with me, because of certain points-of-view expressed on the blog – please check out the comments section too.

So, he very sweetly wrote an email. Fair enough.

But, I surround myself with as many clueful & energetic youngmen (and some women, including wifey) as possible, who I use as somewhat of an abat-voix – from whom I sponge-off, bounce-off ideas, learn, correct myself and seek solace; must admit that I get mercilessly beaten-up and hated sometimes. But, they are much better than I, at a variety of levels. I am damn lucky.

So, one such person (ym2) had chosen to respond to to ym1. Thanks much, ym2 & ym1.

I am reproducing both responses verbatim, after anonymizing both, for your edification / reflection. I will respond, if at all, in comments.


My Dear Othisaivu Ramaswamy sir, 

I am <redacted> Coimbatore. I am studing in <redacted>, ca, first year. I have read your article about IIT Madras’s QS ranking. Though I have less knowledge in tamil, with the help of my uncle I read your articles. It’s a wonderful eye opener about education and how to approach them. But I am disappointed because you are always telling that arts and humanity is waste and it has not got value. This entire government is running by people who have came by arts and humanity like IAS, VAO, defence sector, financial sector, auditing etc. Even in science for running a project we need fund, for effective fund management we need auditing or economic. Comparing to science students, we are growing more creative. We are seeing the world from different angle. I know in that article you also insulted creativity. But I have one doubt, you studied in IIT Madras, you have enormous knowledge in science that is why you wrote this article, even through this article is enriched in education, science etc, for writing this you need creativity. I have some questions, studing in arts is waste?, If so why?, wheather arts has less scope?. I am not anger with you but I am disappointed.


Dear ym1,

Good that you chose to confront Othisaivu Ramaswamy with your question.  Since you chose to write in English, I wish you did a spelling and grammar check before sending it.  There are tools available to improve the quality of your writing skills.

>I am studing in <redacted>, ca

Good. Just a degree does not challenge you enough.  CA has papers in Mathematics; I hope you will take them seriously.

>arts and humanity is waste and it has not got value

A country needs more technicians than arts and humanities people.  Society needs more plumbers, masons, carpenters, mechanics, engineers a lot more than it needs historians and economists.  I have seen engineers taking up the study of history and economics, can you show a few humanities people who can fix a leaking pipe?  (Most engineers can’t fix a leaking pipe today.  That’s another sad story for another day.)  The point is, arts and humanities are less important for the welfare of the society that it is enough fewer people to pursue those and nothing stops an engineer to study these at a later stage.  Instead, it is almost impossible for a humanities student to learn a bit of technology.

> This entire government is running by people who have came by arts and humanity like IAS, VAO, defence sector, financial sector, auditing etc

I believe the country runs with the bureaucracy and is not run by the bureaucracy. At times, the bureaucracy is good at applying brakes.  It includes people who had studied humanities and also science.  So, we can’t attribute its effectiveness or the lack of it to humanities people.  

> For effective fund management, we need auditing or economics.

Auditing is a post-facto activity.  And for fund management, it needs basic skills in budgeting and discipline in spending.  A three-year course for these skills is a waste of three precious years.  I wish you don’t pursue an M.Com; that’s a bigger waste. 

>We are seeing the world from different angle

Good.  But not angles are useful.  Are they?  There was a creative cameraman who worked with a director named Sridhar.  His camera angles were so creative that they gave a headache to elderly people watching the movie.

>you also insulted creativity

Creativity has limited value to society as compared to basic skills.  In the car manufacturing segment, it probably needs 10 designers who are creative and 10,000 mechanics who can work with tools and get things done.  Maybe the 10 creative people earn a lot more than the 10,000 mechanics, but there is room only for 10 people for that kind of work.  If we produce more “creative” people as compared to mechanics, the best and luckiest would grab those 10 positions and the rest won’t be able to do any useful work. 

>for writing this you need creativity

Not really.  Writing needs practice, systematic thinking, and discipline.

>studing in arts is waste?, If so why?, wheather arts has less scope?.

No learning is a waste.  So, don’t lose heart.  Learn a few skills when you are still young.  Learn something that can show direct benefits – like fixing of taps, broken chairs, power supply, etc.  (Disclaimer:  I didn’t learn these at all when I should have learnt, but I would still attempt at fixing things myself before I call the technician.  I earned my living by being a software mechanic – someone who fixes other’s code.)



A ringside view is satisfying & consumes less energy, but I really hope ym1 responds here and ym2 continues to give his inputs so that there could be a healthy discussion, threshing-out of opinions and the like.

But I must embed a fine XKCD pic, to provide some context:

Please note that engineering maketh the world. For example: I do not think the Internet happened because of the need to address some accounting, economic or literary needs of human beings. Though ymmv.

Of course, I like & respect my music, literature and the like – which are all fine products of leisure activities and are all for leisurely-consumption.

Anyway. More incendiary stuff could happen later, may be.

Other / defensive / offensive views – contrarian and otherwise – are welcome.

(You see, you do not have to mention your real names or addresses in order for you to respond on the blog – many folks use that facility, some are even rabid; so don’t worry – unless you are extraordinarily painful, I do not care to trace your whereabouts – shit, I don’t have even know most of the commenters, leave alone having met them. Relax!)


14 Responses to “Edu: An youngman asks some questions, another youngman responds”

  1. ym1 Says:

    Well, I am glad that I have got wonderful response within a short time. First, I need to convey one thing, that I am not against science and its great values. My point is we, the arts students, also deserve certain respect in this society. People think we have less syllabus which enables us to roam around the city without any responsibility.

    Thanks, but I am not into Chartered Accountant, it is Computer Application.

    My friend ym2 had told that I need correct my spelling and grammar and there were tools for this. I will be even more happy, if he/she mentioned the tools.

    I would like you to recheck this point. Because we have BA sociology in IIT, why? An engineer may be best in building big well-designed dams but he needs to know the impacts of building dams on the people.
    Likewise, perfection in language is the basic thing for communication. In its absence, we cannot even explain science or anything else.

    I agreed that different angles may end up with confusing outputs but there was less example for that case. Sundar Pichai’s innovation of combining YouTube with google is considered as a wonderful innovation. I will be happy if you come more examples for your opinion in this case.

    Creativity is demanded by all the sectors not only in arts and humanities. Even in science research, it will not be successful without proper business thinking and economic creativity. Opportunities for creativity is more in arts while comparing to science.
    Business world requires creativity, for example Cavinkare success story.

    By creativity, I mean out of the box thinking. Yes, for writing we need practice, what sort of practice? Freedom of practice is what one wants to do. Discipline is required for writing but self-created discipline will more facilitate them to reach higher.
    These are things that can easily be attained from arts which is not possible in subjects which requires only memory power. Like soft skills, goal orientation, innovation etc.,

    Thanks for your wonderful advice. I am also coming to the same point. It doesn’t matter what course we are completing, what skill we absorb matters. Learning by heart big theories in science, mugging up formulas in mathematics doesn’t make oneself to reach high. I am against maths or science but only against swallowing without assimilating them.

    Sir you explained a big thing in single XKCD. I am sad that I lost the opportunity of being a student of yours.

    Have you ever felt a freshness in you after listening to music, art or some sort of imagination after that your energy level will definitely increase,
    if so, that’s the power of arts and humanity.
    The negative impact of science is too horrible like pandemic etc., There was no much horrible negative impacts in arts and humanities.

    • Hello,

      Ars longa, vita brevis – I tell myself.

      I do not think I am capable of taking the discussion further or responding in meaningful ways so that facts of the arguments/positions can be communicated, debated, understood & internalized. My bad.

      I wish you well, though.

      Have given the link of your comment to ym2; there may be a response.


    • yahm Says:

      First – I may be called young-at-heart as I get to interact with younger people.

      > My point is we, the art students, also deserve certain respect in this society.

      Unfortunately, the two parties are responsible for respect.  One earns and the other gives.  It’s a collective responsibility to earn it.  You can try to earn, but that will be only a few like you.  There were respected historians and economists.  (Find out who they are first.)  Contemplate why the popular perception is still against a humanities student.

      >  I am not into Chartered Accountant, it is Computer Application.

      Good. This will train you to be more logical and I hope you will understand my logic too.  My teacher used to say that Computer Science does not need Mathematics – it is Mathematics.  If you agree you are well on your way to success.

      > he/she mentioned the tools.

      I use Grammarly to correct my language.  It’s good enough.  If you want to write more, you may try the professional edition.

      >Sundar Pichai’s innovation of combining YouTube with google is considered as a wonderful innovation.

      I can’t comment on it.  I don’t even know if that is creativity or business sense.  As people gain experience, dots get connected, new possibilities are seen.  If you say Steve Jobs was creative, I’d accept.  

      >Opportunities for creativity is more in arts while comparing to science.

      You may have seen Ilayaraja conducting music.  There’s one creative Ilayaraja and hundreds of musicians following the instructions.  Some of these musicians are very knowledgeable and extremely humble that they know only the theory and the music director is the creator.  You can see the ratio there. One Ilayaraja feeds hundreds of musicians.  If you are a creator like Steve Jobs or an Ilayaraja, this conversation ends here.  I wish you good luck and won’t waste your time in a useless conversation.

      >Learning by heart big theories in science, mugging up formulas in mathematics doesn’t make oneself to reach high.

      This problem exists even in economics, history, and other arts subjects taught here.  A couple of weeks ago, on this site, Othisaivu Ramaswamy had lamented that a post-graduate in history did not know about Hiuen Tsang.  You are confusing the subject with the way it is taught or learned.

      >On positive and negative impacts of science, arts and humanities

      Your argument is a farce.  They have nothing to do with spending 3/4/5 years in college.  

  2. Muthukumar Says:

    //contrarian and ******* – are welcome


    why are you calling AK47, who is not in any list of toon?

  3. Rajan Says:

    “An youngman..”? Is it a mistake or a parody of ym1?


    • Y Sir? He sure is an youngman, that ym1.

      If your complaint is against that An before Youngman, I apologize because, having been clusterfucked in tamil medium, I have terrible difficulties with english, the horror. Hope you understand.

      But, if not – if you feel that the lad does not deserve to be referred to as an youngman, I wouldn’t perhaps violently disagree with you. Still, I would not rule-out the blossoming of an individual, given suitable experiences and achievements and his ‘openness’ to them.

      Be it as it may.

      With all respect (and best wishes) to the lad, I hope he indeed becomes a Man, unlike many of us who would like to continue with some kinda extended adolescence throughout the rest of our lives.


  4. From ym1 again:

    On Sun, Jun 13, 2021 at 6:00 PM 20BCC031 wrote:
    >         Dear sir, I am doing this for debate purpose only. Kindly post the comment in blog, if you think fit.
    >                      It seems like the debate again and again coming to the same point. We are roaming around a small circle. Well, I am in the place to do my justice to my course so I am replying to your comments.
    >                             Popular perception is deceptive. Masses always go by the outward trends. For example. Last many rushed to arts because many engineering colleges are converted into marriage halls.  
    >                           I would not have started this debate, if Othisaivu Ramanswamy sir included one sentence in that article. Sir felt sad that Engineering was becoming less standard and he stressed lot to improve them, meanwhile, he told BA. B.COM are completely useless. My view, he could have included sentence like arts and humanities have to be improved.
    >                            No course is useless, no subject is valueless, everything has its own value and scope.
    >                           Thank you so much for your advice.

    >                           Are you giving example for my views or for your views? You yourself said Steve Jobs is creative person, I think it doesn’t require much more debate.
    >                          I need answer for these questions from your heart. How many children have had interest in art, they have shown their interest by scribbling on walls etc., but narrow-minded parents made them to learn subject which they didn’t have interest in. As an impact, there was a huge competition for engineering, MBBS etc., which led to inefficiency in those courses.  It will be wonderful if we leave them to grow what they want. This world is too big with lot of ups and downs. We cannot tell this course is best and this is waste. I am thinking we must break this narrow mindedness to have a better education standard in our country.
    >                           I am tired by telling again and again same point. I hope this time I will get a wonderful reply which could interest me to debate more.  

    • Hello ym1,

      0. My dear pal ym2 (who has more patience with impressionable youth than I) does not want to continue with the discussion because he has other, really important things to do than indulge in an unequal (my words) conversation.

      Thanks ym2, you have been kind.

      1. Nothing works like openness to the world – and the massively scholarly & practical experiences that it can provide, eventually.

      Time is a great healer, especially for extended adolescence.

      2. At some point of time, I may come up with a note on ‘a) Why the BA, BCom, MCA, CA etc etc are next to useless & hopeless + irredeemable b) as to how the existing BE, BTech, BScs are ALSO useless – but can be recast as Trades training courses to a very significant extent and c) why PhDs and MPhils are utter & unalloyed trash + taxmoney wasters in TN – AND, what can be meaningfully done given the situation.’

      But am not sure, when.

      2. Again, I wish you growth & excellence. It will be a loooong journey.


  5. B Says:

    Dear Ramasamy Sir:
    Namaskarams!, and, thank you. I’m a regular visitor for the past 12 months and I’m reading and reflecting a lot from your writings.

    Dear ym1 & ym2:

    A few thoughts from my limited life experiences ( which are HOs and YMMV):

    Pursuing a line of education to make a living is something which have been taught religiously in a large % of families here and there is nothing wrong about it, especially if you have already reached college level in the said tradition. If you really feel surviving is good enough, you continue to do so like the rest of the “Vedikkai Manidhargal”, but If you want to live to the fullest potential of the life given to you, then it is a must to explore and learn continuously either in the fields you are introduced to the basics already, or learn something from the scratch (I’ve recently started Biology) and keep expanding your horizons.

    It is perfectly fine to do a boring job to make money to survive, help your parents and your own family tomorrow. But, without learning things broadly, you will be missing on how the world around you works (socially, technologically, biologically and so on). For example, this might result in believing fake doctors in WhatsApp (if you don’t know basic biological systems) or people spreading hate (if you don’t know some history at least).

    In other words, I recommend trying to become a Deep Generalist who attempts to find the workings of the world around through continuous learning. We don’t need to have a grand plan for such learning, whenever something from an unrelated field of study puzzles or bothers or intrigues you, start digging more by learning the basics of that. And this applies to all fields of study not just for students and practitioners of arts and humanities, but science and technology too.

    Thank you for reading.


  6. B Says:

    Thank you for the ‘encouragement’ and ‘Aasirvadhams’ :) But I’m relentlessly going to pursue reading your blog.

    About the tweets, I don’t think there is anything hateful, but ballsy statements of facts. Thank you for that.

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