"Science" in India

Bhadraiah Mallampalli vaidix at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 18 22:48:05 UTC 2000

Dear list members

I am not planning to present a grand theory, but here are some thoughts
which may be in general useful for resolving some of the recent issues on
this list.

We will take a recent example.

How did Britain become a world power in 1700-1900 period? No hard feelings
about white man, colonialism or divide and rule. It is simple: Britain
became a world power by putting to practical use, the mountains of knowledge
accumulated by Royal society. Britain evolved an administrative system of
politics, justice, application of science, and used it to its own advantage.

But by 1900 those principles that Britain built so painstakingly lost their
relevance due to various socio-political reasons. Politically colonialism
lost its relevance. Economically capitalism lost its relevance. (The whole
wide world of academics and general public still do not understand that
"capitalism" was long gone with advance of middle class, and it is now
replaced by "management" or "managementism if you like it that way").

Silently since year 1900, two management scientists in US (Henry Fayol and
F.W.Taylor) brought out a productivity revolution which effectively made US
a superpower in 20th century.

Every body felt bad about British colonialism and flow of money to England.
But here is a comic parallel: I really hate buying a new Pentium every three
years! This is worse inspite of the fact that the machine helps me. US made
money without invading a single territory for its own occupation in a
democratic way.

Now coming to Indian context:

It is possible that ancient India was occupied by many different smaller
villages having different cultures. But the "brahminic technology" of
organizing the society was definitely more robust than what the individual
villages had; just as British "technology" was the best in 1700-1900 or US
technology has been the best since 1900.

I am not in favor of the brahminic system. But my question is what was the
alternative available for the ancient India? We have records of ancient
India before birth of Buddha. Buddhistic principle of renouncing armies was
definitely not a solution.

When you impose a more efficient and powerful system, then other weaker
systems get dominated with no respect for "endangered species" and
"endangered cultures". Today nobody in India wears a dhoti to office, except
in traditional Tamil Nadu. By the way has any one in US figured out yet
whether the American Indians must be mainstreamed or left to live their
traditional lives? Or both? These are difficult questions to answer.

When India got independence it was already 50 years since Fayol/Taylor; but
nobody in India ever heard of them! India had the age old caste system, and
continued the 150 year old British system, both obsolete for administration
purposes for a modern society. Enormous money was pumped into public sector
which is still using the traditonal "green paper" filing system.

India had a choice, but it was wasted. Management guru Peter F Drucker said
in 1972 that India is not underdeveloped, it is undermanaged.

All I can say about why India failed, is to repeat what Prof Drucker
said: A tree always rots from top. You guess the rest.

Many other smaller malaises people complain daily on this list are merely
by-products of this larger one.

Bhadraiah Mallampalli
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