Humanities: The branch of knowledge that deals with human nature. Reading of classics, history & literature.

The term “liberal” deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge , wisdom & leadership (concerned chiefly with broadening of the mind, not simply with technical & professional training.)

Art deals with practice & application.

The well-formed mind is preferable to a well-filled one, and it takes a knowledge of history & an appreciation of literature to form a mind that is capable of grappling with the diversity of human experience in a world devoid of certitudes.

If terrorism is to be tackled & ended, we have to deal with fear, rage & incomprehension that animates it. We will have to know each other better, learn to see ourselves as others see us, learn to recognise hatred & deal with its causes, learn to dispel fear & above all just learn about each other. It takes reading & learning about other people & cultures to open (and broaden) minds.

Ignorance & lack of imagination remain the handmaidens of violence. Without extending our imagination, we cannot understand how people of other races, religions & languages share the same dreams, the same hopes. Without reading widely & broadening our minds, we cannot understand the myriad manifestations of the human condition, nor fully appreciate the universality of human aims & aspirations. Without the humanities, we cannot recognise that there is more than one side to a story, and more than one answer to a question.

Business leaders of tomorrow need to have vision. They have to build high-performing organisations. In order to achieve global competitive advantage they have to recognise change & innovation, & promote sustained investment in human skills. The lessons of history & literature might better prepare a young person for those challenges. Very few see education as high adventure, a chance to discover how the world works.

If science is just memorising a bunch of facts, then it becomes a mindless approach to education . Science is not about a bunch of facts but rather about learning to think exactly. Scientific education means the implanting of a rational, sceptical, experimental habit of mind. The sad fact is that success in science does not lead to a humane or sceptical outlook of life. The physicists of half a dozen nations voluntarily & secretly worked for years to make the atom bomb, without apparently questioning the implications of their work.

Many technologists defend the narrowest of nationalist positions & engage in the worst form of minority bashing. When technology has no borders, why do technologists create narrow boundaries in their minds? It is no consolation to recall that German scientists showed the same inabilities to withstand narrow nationalism when they lined up with Hitler.

The worst thing about our education is that it teaches a cut-and-dried collection of facts. The fun has gone out of it. Students look at it as slogging work on the way to IIT and IIM. An educated person ought to see the queerness of nature. Education must lead to a liberal, sceptical & humane outlook of life.

It is not enough just to treat people well and then use them well. You have to help people find meaning and fulfilment in what they do. They don’t want to be ‘used’ by the organization like pawns or victims. They want to have stewardship over their own resources. They want to feel that they are making a personal contribution to something meaningful. That’s when you truly release the human potential and all that tremendous energy and creative power that is hidden inside people waiting to be unleashed. Goethe said ‘Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be’.