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History Beyond UPSC and Academia

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

The many perceptions of History students

History has to be one of the most relevant yet misunderstood subjects. It has an image of being a heavily academic subject. And naturally, that’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Not everyone is preparing for the prestigious UPSC exam or working their way toward a PhD.

Then the question arises, why should we read about history?

The answer to that is quite simple really. History is beyond academia and UPSC. It is a universal subject, in the sense that it doesn’t matter what your interests are, you’ll cross paths with history. Let’s say kingdoms and empires are boring to you, what interests you is fashion. There will be stories in fashion history too, whether it's the story of changing prints or of a fashion icon. History is everpresent.

And it’s important to read up on history, even if you read about the very specific interest you have, like say baking. I’m sure you’ll find extraordinary culinary tales relating to that. Just by reading these stories, you find yourself a bit closer to your interests. And that is in my opinion the purpose of history.

It draws us close to our culture and our conflicts. It helps us understand our past so that we can make sense of the present. The world is indeed led by people who look ahead and think of the future. But none of them had achieved anything in their life if they didn’t have a past to build upon.

Nations, states, cultures, and even individuals have an identity because of history. Our ancestors understood that. Many ancient civilizations have a particular kind of punishment, known in Latin as Damnatio Memoriae, which translates to the condemnation of memory. In this case, after a person has been executed for a crime, all their records, their symbols, and stories were erased. So that nothing remains to remember them by. Without memories and stories, in the grand duration of history, they cease to exist.

For a culture to continue to exist and thrive it is important that someone is telling its stories. It is important to encourage people to read about the past. History isn’t a subject that we can limit to the pursuit of excellence in academia. It’s a field that helps us reflect, retell and relive the past. And in doing so help us better understand the lives we live.

Written by Siddharth Tiwari, Creator Engagement Manager

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