"Science" in India

P. Anand panand3 at REDIFFMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 25 06:04:00 UTC 2000

  This arguably somewhat peripheral issue has been going
  on for a while. There are effectively two camps: Indians and
  non-Indians.  Later group, in general, has a sympathy with
  Steve Farmer's views; former group does not.

    This whole thread started by a posting of S. Farmer, where on
  the basis of an Outlook magazine article and some anecdotal
  evidence, he claimed support for his beliefs about a section
  of Indians. To buttress his arguments, he described Outlook
  as a nationalist magazine. Here what the editor-in chief of
  the magazine has to say in a recent 5th anniversary issue:

    "Of course, there exists a body of opinion which insist
  Outlook should shift it offices to Karachi with a branch
  at 10, Janapath."

    This criticism may be unfair sometime, but if such a magazine
  is "nationalist" (in the sense used sometime here), then
  what about Time/Newsweek/Economist. I hesitate to use the
  word if I apply the same yardstick.

    It emerged that point to be made was that existence of people
  such as Rajaram can be attributed to pathetic quality of
  education of engineers in India. I want to make several points

    . Rajaram episode is far overblown. Most people, except
  a miniscule percentage, in India have not heard of Rajaram,
  let alone his theories/evidence. Frontline articles were
  perhaps the first major coverage. That too critical. This
  brings me to one of my points: Human nature to believe the
  worst about the others. People in general use different
  yardsticks for there own community/country and the "other"
  communities/countries. As human nature dictates, most non-Indians
  in this list would like to believe the worst about Indians.
  They would ignore the existence of many "Rajarams" in their
  own countries. They will speak of sweeping Hindu fundamentalism
  and even worse about India and Rajaram episode as an
  example of it. They would not look at their own countries.
  They would ignore the close relations between some major political
  parties and sometime extreme religious bodies in their own
  countries. They would ignore that their would-be-president feel
  the need to flaunt their religious beliefs. (Indians are human too.)

   . Most people in Indian scientific community will agree to
  the sad states of affairs in regarding science and humanities.
  (Outlook article was about these.) Education institutions
  (though smaller in number) are much better in engineering and
  at undergraduate level comparable to the best outside India.
  If there are too many engineers on this list, this is in
  part because of lack of enough good institutions in the field
  of humanities.

    I would like to say many more things, but this message is
  already too long.

  :- Pankaj

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