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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Science and India

This topic had been in my mind for a pretty long time, how we treat science in  our country. Now  at this wonderful occasion of Merriam-Webster's naming of "Science" the word of the year, there will never be more precise timing than this to talk about this topic. Even in this twenty first century our scientific understanding is relatively poor. Most Indians never had a view of science further than academia. We equate science to academia, we never ever thought of science’s presence apart from that, in our daily life. Bharat Ratna (highest and prestigious honour conferred to an Indian citizen) awardee Prof. C.N.Rao  says we Indians lack scientific temper and former Chief Justice of India, Markandeya Katju not so long ago criticised we Indians are fools. You might wonder where is the relation between these two remarks?  When someone criticize, we never dare to do a self check before attacking the critique. And our way of counter argument will usually not dialectical in nature, instead we try to rip the person off from his moral-right to present such an argument. I strongly believe it’s a bad habit , no matter who asks the question as long as it is valid and reasonable in the given context. 

Unlike  USA, India never had a problem from religious front about including “evolution theory” in academics. That’s because their(USA & mostly all western countries) sole religious belief is relied on one single Bible version (of course there are other streams of Christianity but mostly Church’s version) explaining everything from the birth to the death of universe. On the other hand India being the hotspot of cultures and religions from the very beginning, is kind of used to with the contradictions in theories and beliefs. We don’t actually care that evolutionary theory put forward by Darwin directly defies Hindu version of beginning of mankind and animals, which is from “God Bhrama” because Indians were “followers” from the very beginning. No matter in which religion we belong to, we have always been abiding followers. We never ever try to think for ourselves even though that’s what our forefathers urged us to do in old philosophical writings called “Upanishads”. There were a few in the past who were real progressive thinkers, everyone else just followed blindly. Our societal structure were the main factor, but still it was the condition all over globe a century before. But as the time passed “West” changed, more and more revolutionary thinkers and doers mushroomed and moreover people accepted them, though in a slow manner. But here in India we were always been in a confused state, because of this we find it easy and more preferable to follow someone who seemed to be a leader or at least acted like one. As I mentioned before because of our caste system, to most of our people education is still unreachable. So that tradition of “following” still goes on. Sycophancy is yet another big problem in our culture. It is deep-rooted in our culture from the time of Maharajas(Great Kings). Here more than talent and creativity your ability to flatter your master counts. And still, people who (wrongly) call themselves educated lots master in this perversion. We Indians always look for others to help us instead of helping ourselves. Most of us Indians misunderstood Indian subcontinent’s philosophical and literary richness to Science. But of course in older India reach of philosophy is so wide that there is hardly any area it touches. we had a few like Sushruta, & Charaka who excelled in Ayurveda, Kanada who was actually a philosopher also put forward the idea of “Anu” (atom – not to be confused with chemistry the term is more related to metaphysics) and  Aryabhatta & Baskaracharya (Baskara II) were great mathematicians.

India as a nation has given birth to some extraordinary scientific minds like C.V.Raman,Srinivasa Ramanujan, Dr.Chandrashekhar, Dr.Hargobind Khurana, Vikram Sarabhai etc. But we never given them enough support to prosper in our country, we rarely did provide them with opportunities, that’s why we never really saw another homegrown scientist after C.V.Raman. At 2005 Indian Science Congress, our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh said "I am concerned by fact that our best minds are not turning to science, and those who dc not remain in science." and it is a fact. We also lag behind in the number of scientific publications being published in a year. Funding remains the biggest problem till date in modern India. Most of our R&D facilities are being controlled by Government, hence one need to face lots of hurdles before grant is being sanctioned. And because of this lack of funding we were never able to create as many opportunities that could attract our "US trained or Europe trained Postdoctoral students. Modern India’s pathetic state is correctly observed by Prof. C.N. Rao in an interview given to Mint. Here he correctly pinpoints our inability of grasping basic scientific ideas successfully. 
Let's make India glow
India’s current education system is so annoying that it kills the creativity of children at very young age. Education has reduced to literacy. Teachers are just doing their task of teaching, without achieving the desired result of educating children. Teaching has become more like a mechanical task with out reaching out to children, without connecting with children. Focus has shifted to attaining marks and grades rather than the satisfaction of learning. Arts, dance and games, they all play a vital role in moulding the personality of an individual. We become so industry centric that we virtually neglected every other branches than industry specific.Our creativity has long gone or if anything left is in hibernation. Culture is what cultivating, we are not cultivating we are simply copying. I personally don’t have any idea if we were to blame only our politicians or each one of you and me are equally responsible.