We Are Proud of Our Scientists
It is humiliating to have to quote foreign scholars to certify to ancient India’s contribution to science. “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientiﬁc discovery could have been made,” said Albert Einstein. “if there is one place on the face of this earth where all the dreams of living men found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India,” said Romain Rolland, French philosopher.
A columnist in The Huffington Post wrote, “In many ways, modern science is just catching up with the wisdom of early Indian teachings, rooted in ancient Vedic texts and still pervasive in the culture of the Indian subcontinent. Today, many concepts in early Vedic philosophy have been backed up with empirical evidence.”
Now begins the bizarre story of how we are living in incredible times when media persons, following editorial brief, determine the agenda for a conference of distinguished scientists of the country and when a Nobel Laureate of Indian origin refers to the august body as a circus. The response of the scientific community to this remonstrance is so puerile as to amount to endorsement; worse, a few members of the fraternity demanded the dissolution of the ISC while many others backed the initiative saying it acted as an interface between scientists on one side and public and policy makers on the other.
It might be legitimate for members of the Congress to object to the discussion of certain topics. But since when did media persons become part of the reality they are reporting? Which school of journalism supports this kind of reportorial intervention and interpretation? Such happenings strengthen the conclusion that journalists serving a section of the Indian press are under an unwritten compulsion to regard secularism as a movement to reform the Hindu society. Nearly the name of every reporter who covered the congress is taken from Hindu mythology. Would he/she change his/her name? What insanity!
From banning Sati to divorce, to property rights to women, the initiatives for reforms were native to the Hindu society. A crowd of reporters trying to protect the country’s scientific community from Indian mythology is both a tragedy and comedy. There are always people with unorthodox ideas. Is it not intellectual intolerance to dismiss such ideas without hearing?
Media reports say that this is the second year that the Congress is facing a crisis of confidence. Last year, attempts to “saffronise” the Congress held in Mumbai — with a participant maintaining aircraft was invented by a sage in the Vedic times –- were resisted. The Hindu reported that reporters had objected to the inclusion of the lecture. The president of the environmental science section, Gangadhar Mishra, snubbed the reporter saying the selection of articles was his prerogative. The use of the word “saffronise” betrayed the bias of the reporter and the newspaper
More bizarre is Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan calling the Congress a ‘circus’. The India-born scientist had earlier said that politics and religious ideologies shouldn’t be mixed with science. Instead of telling the Nobel Laureate to mind his business the scientific community delivered a couple of inanities. The Congress is a distinguished body. This critic had no role in building our space and atomic energy programmes nor has he had a hand in sculpting Swaminathan’s green revolution.
Let Ramakrishnan know that India is the only third world country that caught up with the West in every area of achievement after one thousand years of destructive foreign rule. Admitted that aircraft two thousand years ago or Shiva’s contribution to the enrichment of environment are unscientific assumptions, the proper thing was to invite the theorist to prove it to the satisfaction of the Congress. If he fails he would make an ass of himself.
According to The Economist, India is poised to become one of the four largest military powers in the world by the end of the decade. New Delhi has the capacity to deploy short, medium and long-range ballistic missiles. Graduates from the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology are in demand around the world. Indian rockets can place multiple satellites in one launch. India is not only a satellite-launching power but offers its launching facilities to other countries.
Sanskrit is the language in which principles of science, philosophy and literature were elaborated and analyzed. Its reflection in ancient science found resonance at one of the sessions of the Congress. For the first time in a history of more than 100 years of the Congress, a long session was devoted to the relation between science and Sanskrit. Titled ‘ancient science through Sanskrit’, the session delved into five topics – engineering applications of Indian botany, ancient Indian aviation technology, advances in surgery in ancient India, neuro-science of yoga and scientific principles of ancient Indian architecture and civil engineering.
Uma Vaidya, session chairperson told Hindustan Times, “This was a session for academic, secular and scientific enquiry.” While citing Sanskrit text, the paper mentioned that there were 32 secrets of science of aeronautics like the secret of para-shabdra graaha – listening to conversations in another plane – and an electric sound receiver.
The Press Council of India should suo motu take notice of the crime of interloping by journalists and the failure of The Hindu Desk to expunge the word “saffronise” from a news report.