oppn parties The Will to Excel in Science Has Gone Out Of India's DNA

News Snippets

  • PM Modi tells BJP workers that India is in for a long battle against the coronavirus and there is no scope to feel tired or defeated
  • PM Modi asks ministers to focus on exports and new areas and sectors
  • PM Modi asks ministers to prepare business continuity plan post the lifting of the lockdown
  • Corona cases in India cross 4000 and the death toll stands at 124
  • The government decides to double the testing of corona suspects from 10000 now to 20000 in the next three days
  • Flipkart assures employees that there will be no job or salary cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Although it was obvious, but the government still clarifies that there is no need to switch off appliances and only lights need to be switched off on April 5 at 9pm after confusion in the minds of some people
  • PM Modi and President Trump decide "to deploy full strength of (Indo-US) partnership" to fight against COVID-19
  • 17 states have reported 1023 cases of coronavirus linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, which translates to 30% of all positive cases in India
  • The government says people should not use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before lighting diyas or candles on April 5
  • The railways say there is no certainty yet when services will resume after the lockdown and a final decision will be taken in the next few days
  • As coronavirus cases multiply in Assam, six north-east states seal their borders with the state
  • Power System Operation Corporation Ltd. (POCOSO) putting all systems and protocols in place at war-footing to ensure there is no grid failure due to reduction in demand on April 5 at 9 pm
  • Power ministry scotches rumours that the power grid might fail due to the 9-minute blackout called by PM Modi on Sunday, April 5
  • Centre asks people to wear home-made masks if it is absolutely essential for them to step out of homes
26 nurses and 3 doctors test positive for COVID-19 at Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai, facility cordoned off, no entry or exit permitted from the hospital
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The Will to Excel in Science Has Gone Out Of India's DNA

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2016-01-13 14:14:08

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Recently, the 2016 Indian Science Congress was held. Were any useful or serious discussions held in it or was it just another network-building and back-slapping jamboree? In countries where science, research and development occupy a pride of place in society, such events see a rush of scholarly papers being submitted and people vying to speak in order to gain recognition, for themselves and their painstakingly conducted research. But in India the Science Congress has been turned into a circus, as Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan rightly lamented.

When was the last path breaking discovery or invention made by Indian scientists working in India? As a nation we wallow in mediocrity as far as scientific matters are concerned. We care a hoot about patents of people who invested fortunes and lifetimes in creating something new. We change the ‘process’ to change the ‘product’ and dish out our own versions, self-congratulating ourselves on our ‘success’ and the fact that we can produce the same things at a much cheaper cost. But in the process we have first lost the will to discover – and hence innovate – and then become complacent. We know others will do the research and we will just copy. So the will to excel in science has gone out of our DNA.

More dangerously, we have increasingly begun to equate science with mythology. If Ram came to Ayodhya in a vaayu vaan, there are takers for the theory that airplanes are an Indian invention. The habit of explaining things through the occult is deeply ingrained in the Indian psyche. Mythology is increasingly being detached from religious beliefs and made to appear scientific. Everything that happens is usually considered an act of God. Scientific explanations are neither given nor sought. Children are not encouraged to be inquisitive about the unexplained (in fact, they are scolded by parents and teachers both, if they are persistent).

If this continues, there will be lesser innovation with passage of time. Scientific temper has to be built from childhood. The government has to invest in science laboratories in schools at the lower level and research at the higher levels of the education institutions. It is surprising that a stream of study that can fire the imagination of kids and make them ask million questions and conduct billions of experiments is reduced to just a subject in textbooks. India needs to inculcate the scientific spirit in its youth if it has any pretensions of being a manufacturing powerhouse. Borrowed technology, designed for other countries and cultures, can take us only thus far and no further. We need scientists who can make technological inventions according to our needs. For that, we need scientists who invest time in research and experiment, not those who try to pass off mythology as science.