"Science" in India

Dr Y. Vassilkov iiasguest10 at RULLET.LEIDENUNIV.NL
Sun Oct 22 10:35:17 UTC 2000

    I think it is very important for us to understand WHY the majority of
European Indologists and some Indian contributors response to one and the
same thing so differently.
    From the point of view of European (and I hope, of many Indian)
scholars, Steve Farmer did nothing wrong. He just expressed his opinion
about the system of technical education in another country. If he would say
that, e.g., the system of technical education in Russia has serious defects,
and my point of view, let us suppose, is different, then I would merely
argue with him and produce some evidence in favour of my opinion. Without
calling him names and suspecting him to have some political bias. Scholars
from any European country and many Indian scholars too would response, I am
sure, precisely in this way.
    But there appear now more and more people in India for whom such
balanced and reasonable response to any kind of critical remarks is
excluded. While staying once in India for a long time I had the opportunity
to attend many lectures read by visiting Western scholars (or the Indian
scholars working in the West). As a rule, the audience was friendly, but
there always were present some people, whose only aim seemed to be to find
in a lecturer's words something insulting for India, some signs of the
Neo-colonialistic conspiracy, politically motivated distortion of historical
facts etc. It reminded me the Soviet years in Russia, when so many people
tried to make their cariers by way of showing themselves as the active
fighters against "subversive bourguois science", as the general paradigm of
the world scholarship used to be called...
    We must realise that even now so many Indians feel that their national
pride is hurt as soon as they think about colonial period. What is strange,
is that the pain of these memories does not die with the course of time, as
it would be natural in the conditions of the modern world, but seems to grow
every year. What is the reason for it? I think, the reason is that there are
always some people ready to put salt on the wound. If the streets in a city
are flooded two meters high after every heavy rain, who is to blame?
Certainly, the British who built defective drainage sistem (a hundred years
ago?). It is so convenient to blame  Westerners for all. And this politics
is converted into "scholarship" by such people, as Rajaram, Subhash Kak and
others.  It is due to their propaganda (and partly due to Said's
"Orientalism") that the number of people in India who know nothing about
Indology except that it is "subversive Western pseudo-science" grow and
grow. As you may see yourself just reading the post on our list.
     I think that the only mistake of Steve Farmer is that he could not
anticipate the inevitable response to his  comments on an article in
Outlook. He gave the Hindutva people one more pretext to display their
"righteous anger" (and, by the way, to avenge him for his discovery of
Rajaram's fraud). I pray all the participants of the list: please, be
careful and think about the consequences of your statements. It was a
painful experience to read some letters full of blind hate, written by
totally disoriented people. I can feel nothing but pity for them. With all
my heart I wish them to turn back to the great principles of Hinduism, to
get rid of hatred and other affects and to obtain peace in their souls.

Yaroslav Vassilkov

----- Original Message -----
From: "Valerie J Roebuck" <vjroebuck at APPLEONLINE.NET>
Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2000 9:56 AM
Subject: Re: "Science" in India

> I don't think Steve Farmer was insulting anybody--just questioning the
> quality of certain systems of education, surely a legitimate concern of
> academics everywhere?

> Vidyasankar wrote:
> >Now we have Farmer insulting an entire
> >population and an entire nation,

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