"Science" in India

Arun Gupta suvidya at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Thu Oct 19 04:07:56 UTC 2000

A few comments :

The better Outlook article is http://www.outlookindia.com/20001023/
coverstoryA.htm. But I may be biased because I know the author; he was
Director of the IIT where I was a student.

Note that Professor Indiresan stood up against overbearing Members of
Parliament who demanded that the IITs lower their academic standards.


Science education is a poor step-sister of technological education in India.
No matter what a child's talents may be, where its interests may lie, the
middle class Indian parent asks "How will you make a living doing XYZ ?".
Indology, archaeology, linguistics etc. would not make the grade.  The best
and brightest are virtually driven into engineering and medical professions.

Emigration to the US and economic success here opens some space for some of
such people to pick up former loves; but as noted on this board, not very

The Humanities education in India is very poor in teaching techno-people
anything about India. It is dominated by Western humanities.  India's
"secular" humanities establishment has little interest in people learning
about India because it might impair "secularism".  The humanities
establishment is no better than the scientific laboratory establishment that
is excoriated in the Outlook articles.

I will bet that India produces more Ph.D.s in English than in all Indian
languages combined.

Indians know something about India in spite of their education.  As people
realize this, a certain paranoia about Western scholarship sets in because of
the Western emphasis on their education in India.


The cited article has a "do only relevant science" outlook that, to my mind,
is totally discredited. It is the converse of the Japanese lab. that required
its people to work on original stuff for so many hours of the week.  Where
good science is being done, the article dubs it as "profligate".

Criticism of "brahminical insistence of theory" is quite misplaced -- theory
is one area where a lot of funding is not needed, and research can run free
of all the constraints mentioned in the Outlook articles.

Where the institutional culture is good, India's "techno-coolies" have proud
achievements.  India's civilian space program's budget for two decades from
inception to first satellite launch was equivalent to the cost of four-six
Jumbo Jets.

Oh, and most Indians support India's nuclear program.

-arun gupta

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