Thursday, March 01, 2007

Science - No Way.

Media would make you believe that India is on its way to becoming one of the greatest Scientific Powerhouses in next few years. After all Indian Software Companies are doing cutting edge work, we make and export world class cars, and have a couple of world class drug companies. And don't we have our IITs and IISCs to boast of?

Well - believing the above lines would be a mistake.

Feb 28th every year is celebrated as a Science Day. It came and went. Did you even hear about it? Yes you may have read a line or two hidden in some newspaper, or spoken casually on a television channel just before they blurted out weather report. Even uneducated people know about Valentine's Day now, but educated are unaware of Science Day. This is sign of the times we live in - this is what reflects the true prevalence of science in our society.

Why Feb 28th? Sir C.V. Raman announced the discovery of the Raman Effect on Feb 28th 1928.

Consider the following:

  • The last time an indian scientist won a major international award (forget Nobel!) is almost impossible to recall.
  • Rewards by itself are not so important, but what about breakthroughs. We are hard pressed to note any significant breakthrough in the field of science being made in India in last few decades. Homi Jahangir Bhabha was many decades ago.
  • Recent studies have ranked Indian Institute of Science beyond 250th position in the world. And IITs even lower. Some of these studies may be biased, but what have you got to prove otherwise? The fact is Indian Education System is not geared towards Science. Its geared towards rote learning.
  • According to Prime Minister's scientific advisor C N R Rao - The decreasing number of high impact papers from India, which is less than 1%, is of a serious concern." Terming the bureaucracy as "unbearable," Rao said, "We cannot have the department of personnel in Delhi deciding who is a good scientist or who is able to head an institution. So is Science on its Death Bed in India?
  • The miracle men - are more popular in india than top scientists. Sure you know that already!
  • And where is any reasonable research happening in our universities. For Research merit is necessary, not reservations.

So where do we go from here? Well... in a country where the HRD Minister is busy figuring out how to hoodwink people, and keep them entagled in reservations - talking about excellence in science seems like a joke.

Random Thought: Isn't India the same country where the digit zero, and decimal system was invented?


At 8:19 PM, Blogger Kiran said...

Congrats ApunKaDesh for yet another excellent post. Your blog keeps getting better, more interesting, more probing with each post :)

Coming to the topic of the post - Its indeed a "Sad-but-true" affair. And this is the quote of the year "The fact is Indian Education System is not geared towards Science. Its geared towards rote learning" Our examination system is the biggest culprit in the educational labyrinth. There is no impetus on understanding of concepts and on reseacrh-orientation. One who bye-hearts like a parrot succeeds.

Science has further taken a beating because of advent of IT. I am myself a techie. And let me tell you - dont be fooled into believing that the entire Indian IT industry is involved in cutting-edge work. Only a negligible percentage of the IT workforce and investments in India go towards R&D. The rest is involved in routine (rote - as you call it ;) work.

Nevertheless, keep up the good work - bringing such things out in the open can do wonders. Hope your work pays off and we see an India much more dedicated to S&T and less on poll-itics. Jai Bharat

At 1:25 AM, Blogger Atanu said...

Don't know your email address and hence the public comment. Please delete this comment. Thanks.

Check out Mud wrestling with pigs, a post from way back when in Dec 2004. That post concluded with, “Anyway, I struggle on. It is a futile endeavor, like mud-wrestling with a pig—it is a waste of time because you cannot win and the pig enjoys it. Or even, to put it another way, like trying to teach a pig to sing: it cannot be done and it annoys the pig.”

At 7:55 PM, Blogger Musings on India said...

atanu i thought the pig comment was quite correlated with our politicians...pig being the politician. :-)

On a more serious note, great post akd. What is also important to note is that we seem happy adding a few thousand seats in the IITs or maybe upgrading 20 colleges to the IIT level but given our demographics, we need way more than that. A bigger but less talked issue is the dearth of faculty for these institutions. Its a crisis already.

At 3:35 AM, Blogger Apun Ka Desh said...

Thanks folks - agree with all you have to say! But wonder how the change will come about. At this rate it may take a few generations.

Its almost a joke, how ppl get hoodwinked with a few anouncements here and there about a new school or a college etc. Where is the change at the ground level???

Putting a IIT or a IIM in every state is not the solution - as a Minister is trying to make us believe. Huh...


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