"Science" in India

NAYAK Anand anand.nayak at UNIFR.CH
Thu Oct 19 13:31:59 UTC 2000

Thanks, Bijoy Misra, for your comments. The sudden flooding of Indian
engineers (or is it the sudde opening in the Western marketting needs ?) has
created a lot of ill feelings. In Germany there is a slogan running now :
Kinder, nicht Inder (More children please, not Indians). I guess these are
the initial reactions of fear. The substantial esteem will follow I hope.
Greetings. A. Nayak

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Prof.Dr.Anand NAYAK        

        -----Message d'origine-----
        De:     Bijoy Misra [mailto:bmisra at FAS.HARVARD.EDU]
        Date:   jeudi, 19. octobre 2000 14:31
        Objet:  Re: "Science" in India

        Dear Steve (Farmer),
        I don't know you personally.  But that you could interview
        one student in Stanford and then flood the net with opinion
        on the quality of scientists and engineers of Indian origin
        does not say much about your own scientific thinking.  Pardon
        me for saying this, but your absurd generalizations does sound
        extremely irresponsible and you must rethink your empiricism.

        I have been a teacher in the US for more than twenty years and
        have brushed through school systems with two children of my own.
        Person to person the training in mathematics and sciences in high
        schools in India would be superior to such training in public
        schools in the US.  It has not to do with the resources, but the
        quality of the teachers.  That the children do not rise up to
        career of research comes from the deep economic handicap the family
        faces immediately.  It's changing though.  Do interview any of the
        new engineers who are flooding the US, who even do not come from
        the quality schools.  Do observe the respect they gain at the
        American workplace.  They do not have a research resume with them,
        but certainly carry a head of objective thinking to deal with
        rational logic of computing.  The keyword is "objective".

        Hope you would contemplate rather than getting angry.  To make
        sweeping generalizations from places of importance is not helpful
        to your colleagues.  Unfortunately it conotes an attitude that
        better be not displayed in public.  Hope you would rethink
        and engage in a more meaningful dialog.

        Best regards,

        Bijoy Misra

        On Wed, 18 Oct 2000, Steve Farmer wrote:

        > I wrote (about the recent OUTLOOK article on Indian science):
        > > 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
        > > >receive virtually no humanistic training at all.
        > Vidyasankar Sundaresan responded:
        > > Steve, this is a completely unwarranted leap in reasoning. I say
this in all
        > > possible friendliness - you are just so full of it. The article
in Outlook
        > > says zilch about the humanities requirements, or even the
science courses at
        > > the teaching level. It only talks about the higher level
research in science
        > > and technology.
        > This is my conclusion, Vidyasankar, not based on the article but
        > on recent discussions I've had with Indian grad students in
        > engineering and the sciences. One guy I talked to the other day
        > getting his Ph.D. (in physics?) at Stanford - really intelligent
        > - admitted to me that all he had *ever* had in school was
        > scientific training. This, of course, is a problem with US
        > science grad students today as well: There is an old comedy
        > routine about engineers going to "More Science High School" in
        > the US. Anyway, my friend told me that he knew nothing at all
        > about ancient India until he heard Subhash Kak (an engineer, of
        > course) speak at Stanford, several weeks before! His first
        > question for me: What did I think of the "revolutionary" studies
        > David Frawley?!
        > > If you think Indian
        > > science students do not get sufficient humanistic training, let
me let you
        > > in on a secret. On the average, Indian humanities students get
very little
        > > quality training. In the process, humanistic teaching for
science and
        > > engineering programs receives the lowest priority, not because
        > > scientists are blocking it, but because the humanists often
couldn't care
        > > less.
        > Or because they don't have the funding. But you are only proving
        > my point for me: What the OUTLOOK article refers to as
        > "techno-coolies" are, in fact, among those who fall hardest for
        > the Hindutva mythologizing of history, in part because they have
        > no meaningful humanistic training at all.
        > > ps. What exactly do you mean by pop-Hindu? Is there anything
        > > "Hindu" about it? As one interested in comparative studies,
would you call
        > > the to-do about the The Bible Code pop-Judaic? Isn't it even
        > Yes, I think that "pop-Christian" and similar terms are
        > appropriate labels for people who fall for the "Bible Code"
        > nonsense (hidden meanings in the old texts, etc.). Nice ring to
        > them, really. :^)
        > Steve

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