Mast Kalandar

bandar's colander of random jamun aur aam

Mon, 12 Jan 2015

Denigrating Indian Scientists

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A number of people at the Indian Science Congress have been denigrating Indian Scientists! Indeed, a bunch of people with little or no understanding of science, who are driven by little other than self-advertisement and chauvinist ideology have been allowed centre-stage at a once-hallowed forum for Indian Scientists.

Of course our Physicist friends know the difference between the well-recognised contributions of Aryabhata to astronomy and the flights of fancy of the ``inertial drive'' vimana that could travel to the stars. Our Doctors recognise the difference between the real medical contributions of Susruta and the mythical cloning experiment that (supposedly) created the 100 Kauravas.

However, this circle of knowledge may be rather small! For example, I have a colleague who is a well-respected and well-read Biologist. I was taken aback when he asked me (skeptically) whether Vedic Mathematics and Bijaganita were really behind modern algebra. Now any Indian Mathematician knows that the latter is an important contribution to algebra by Bhaskara whereas the aint-nuthin-vedic-bout-it Mathematics is not worth spending time on. So it was an eye-opening moment when I realised that this may not be known outside the Mathematical community.

In other words, unless we write about it, this knowledge of the real contributions of Indian scientists will be buried in this deluge of ideology-driven pseudo-scientific techno-babble. It is time for real scientists to write a properly researched well-documented (online!?) encyclopedia on the theme of scientific contributions from India. The primary criterion for inclusion has to be that it must be good science by modern standards.

We should not allow these denigrators of Indian Science to use their mythological weapons to muddy the wonderful legacy of Ramanujan, Bose, Raman, Bhabha, Saha, Mahalanobis and the many others who followed. Indian Science (and its Scientists) can stand proud only if we show that we know the difference between Science and Nonsense.1

  1. It is nowadays fashionable to run down the "Nehruvian" approach. Our first Prime Minister knew the difference or at least knew whom to ask, whereas the current incumbent clearly does not have a clue!

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