..........And the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free.............
Tagore’s dreams of centres of learning ”where knowledge is free”, have remained just that, dreams.
The knowledge in question here is scientific knowledge and I am talking about the state of scientific education in India.
Science, in our country, is a story of decadence and stagnation . It continues to remain the poorer cousin of Technology, which is growing by leaps and bounds in India.
Scientific institutions, which had been built with the vision that they would serve as centres practicing and propagating Science, have derided and made a mockery of that very vision. These institutions have created and harboured environments of intellectual snobbery, intense professional rivalries and of fear. For a subject like Science to thrive, there needs to be a healthy, fearless environment where the mind can reason and ask questions in order to give rise to novel ideas and discover, unearth and unravel the many mysteries of the universe.
Educationists who have been entrusted with the pivotal role of grooming and guiding young people who have chosen careers in Science and research , have a proprietary attitude towards the subject. Merely holding on to knowledge and not sharing it will not increase its worth. Moreover, the baton of knowledge needs to be passed down from one generation to another.
It does not come as a surprise that research in Science in our country is abysmally low and that very few young people want to choose careers in Science. No cutting- edge research can happen in an atmosphere that stifles the creativity of students and renders them as mere puppets in the hands of the people “guiding” them.
Also, students cannot and should not be blamed and accused of being disloyal to their country , when they leave the country for foreign shores in pursuit of better opportunities in Science. They do so because the country has failed to provide them with opportunities matching their abilities.
I also agree that merely being cynical about the issue does not help. There are solutions to the problem. The government needs to create a number of research institutions with state-of-the-art facilities. The way Science is taught in India needs to change . Right from the school level, students should be taught to appreciate the Science that is involved in our everyday life, out-of-the-box thinking needs to be encouraged and the ‘only-for-people-with-intellectual-abilities-above-a-certain-level’ tag that comes with Science, needs to be gotten rid of.
I am hopeful of change and am sure that if certain reforms are implemented strictly, the day is not far when we would be world leaders in Science.