"Science" in India

Ramalingam Shanmugalingam AppuArchie at NETZERO.NET
Tue Oct 24 06:44:04 UTC 2000

The current mudslingers might like to know an Indian view point on Science
in India:

[Anna's portrait of present day Tamilworld {as illustrated by Nandivarman]:

"There is no other country that neglects science as this country. Here I am
in front of a microphone and when I speak the loudspeaker amplifies my
speech in all directions and makes it audible for many to hear.
Just try and explain how the loudspeaker works! Find out how the Meddur Dam
was constructed! Despite its heaviness explain how the ship floats! Tell
them how the aeroplane flies! Or any scientific phenomenon!
Tamils will not show surprise. Wonder in these will not become manifest.
They may listen for a short time and soon forget these wonders. Confidence
in and value of the power of wonder are absent in them.

They have no respect for science. Because they have not toiled hard to
invent scientific devices. If, my father invented the pencil; my brother
invented the atom bomb, the radio by my grandfather, and electricity by my
ancestors, then the full worth will be significant. The sleepless nights,
ignoring oppositions; unmindful of   people poking fun and their
condemnations; fearless of the dangers; without any thought to such
conditions as confusion, blindness, deformity, Westerners have given so much
thought and worked hard to develop devices. That is why westerners praise
science; it is worthy of their admiration; their respect for science is
profound. But Tamils did not suffer to invent devices. Is there gain without
pain? As a result names of inventors of devices such as the aeroplane do not
jump out. Names of men behind the train do not stir any memory. Science in
this country is an exercise in futility. Like snow in the desert, dangling a
pearl necklace in front of the blind, music to the deaf, science commands no

A valuable commodity losing its value is not good. Students must work hard
to give science its respectability. Students should go out to the people and
remove the taint from their minds. Before lecturing on science, help the
people to remove any unwanted dross and teach the power of reasoning. It is
then people will understand things clearly and value knowledge, give up
spiritual ignorance, trust in truth, and abandon fallacy."]

Excerpts from my interpretation of a speech by Nandivarman on the Late
'aRignar' - Learned C. N. Annadurai- Founder and a former Chief Minister of
Tamil Nadu at http://www.eelamnation.com> under KNOWLEDGE.

-----Original Message-----
From: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at LISTSERV.LIV.AC.UK]On Behalf Of Robert
Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 2:57 PM
Subject: Re: "Science" in India

Am 21 Oct schrieb Venkatraman Iyer:

> <<<
> The question should not be why are Farmer and Witzel pursuing this
> matter, but why are Indian scientists so silent in their support?
> Have they been intimidated?
> >>>
> Not just Indian Scientists. Even the Western Indologists.
> I have seen none crusading other than Dr. Witzel, a lone exception

If I may be so immodest: according to the bizarre Dr. Elst (who, in the
by now well-known twisted style of Hindutva propagandists, in a pamphlet
of his dubs me a "defender[s] of the AIT"): "Dr. Zydenbos can claim the
merit of being one of the first (to my knowledge, the very first) among
the defenders of the AIT to actually respond to the rising tide of
anti-AIT argumentation" when I wrote my short rejoinder to N. Rajaram in
the Indian Express in 1996. Although my piece was a triviality in
comparison with what Witzel and Farmer have done, certain characters
have never forgiven me for it, as the mailings of agents provocateurs to
this list (all of us know their names by now) have abundantly testified.

Why do so few Indologists participate in these 'debates'? Apart from the
reason Dominik has mentioned (non-issues), another reason should be
clear by now: our interlocutors are not reasonable people in search of
academic truth.

For the sake of the 'lurkers' on the list who have not yet understood:
we so-called 'Eurocentric Indologists' are considered a threat to a
certain ideological and political program in contemporary Indian
politics which we all know, and hence we are spoken of like that other
supposed grand conspiracy, the 'evil international Jewry' (which was
also depicted as associated with 'leftists' and 'communists' and
'anti-national' elements) of another ugly period not so long ago. Hence,
also, the concerted efforts to denigrate the scholarliness of mainstream
scholarship. (I enjoyed that 'Europeanist theology' in Subrahmanya's
recent message: it comes very close to 'international Jewry'.)

Few people like to stomach the verbal violence which these interlocutors
throw at us, and as long as the really ugly political madness goes on
far away on the other side of the world, well, scholars return to their
ivory tower and look the other way - which is obviously the main aim of
these interlocutors.

(In view of mailing quotas, I will write a few lines in response to S.
Paruchuri's request later.)

Prof. Robert J. Zydenbos
Institut für Indologie und Iranistik, Universität München

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