"Science" in India

Steve Farmer saf at SAFARMER.COM
Wed Oct 18 18:21:46 UTC 2000

The unusual attraction of Indian engineers for pop-Hindu
mythologized history (think of Rajaram, Kak, or many
correspondents on this List) makes a lot of sense if we consider
the current abysmal state of Indian scientific education. See the
scathing cover story in the current issue of OUTLOOK, which among
much else laments the "widespread plagiarism," "pervasive
mediocrity," "mountain of junk papers, with a very low citation
index," and undue emphasis on military technology that currently
characterizes Indian science. There obviously are many top-flight
Indian scientists around -- some quoted in the article -- but on
the average what passes for scientific education in India is
abysmally poor. The emphasis on narrow technological training,
moreover (resulting, as the article puts it, in "an army of
techno-coolies") means that most Indian engineers and scientists
receive virtually no humanistic training at all. If scientific
training is this mediocre in India, why would we expect
first-rate thinking when Indian engineers turn to history.

Please note that OUTLOOK -- which has the widest circulation of
any magazine in India -- is on the whole a fairly nationalistic
magazine. It certainly cannot be accused of India-bashing.

You can read the article online at:


Steve Farmer

Lars Martin Fosse:

> I have said this before, but apparently it needs saying again: The only
> thing we expect of engineers, physicists, mathematicians etc. with an
> Indological itch is to do their homework. That is, read the relevant
> research material on a given topic and state their critique in a civilized,
> academic manner. There are engineers etc. who actually manage to do this.
> Imagine the reverse situation: LMF reads two thin volumes on popular
> physics (e.g. "Electrons for Everybody", "Physics Even Mom Could Do"),
> thinks deeply about what he has learned for a couple of days and then
> lashes out at seasoned scientists for not seeing what has become obvious to
> him. Like: electrons are not what you think they are, they are quite to the
> contrary...
> [feel free to imagine an impossible theory].
> I am sorry for the parody, but this is precisely the impression some
> engineers etc. create on this list. I am afraid that even sensible
> engineers etc. get lumped together with the all-too-imaginative-and-naive,
> but there it is: this is the mechanism behind all prejudice. We are not
> better than the rest of humankind.

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list