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Wednesday, 27 July 2011


..........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.

3 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you. India should invest in R&D. Its going to help many budding scientists. Our nation has no paucity of talent, its just that our government should know how to tap it.
    Though provoking post.
    Well done:)

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  2. Thanks Tarunima:) I agree that my opinions might be a wee bit too strong, but then again, thats how i feel.

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  3. Well put. Though I would also correct you at certain places.

    Yes the condition of scientific research in India is bad. We still produce the 3rd largest pool of scientists in the world.

    Science by definition isn't a profit organization.
    Its open source, technology on other hand is profit based and closed. Science needs altruism for it to spread, which as you know many of us lack.

    Indian government ironically offers loads of resources of knowledge for free or atmost at a very low price, for example nptel, IGNOU, Gyandarshan etc.
    Plus the fees in the colleges aided by government for pure science are extremely low. I did my 3 years of under-graduation in under 4000 Rs from Bombay University.

    Blaming students isnt the right thing to do, agreed,
    but when the most talented are taught in an institute where their fees are partly subsidized by the Indian government, its their duty to pay back to the people of India by teaching back etc.

    Cutting edge research is a very vague term. In US where its perceived that the most cutting edge research occurs, is plain absurd. Their scientific research is poisoned by a lot of corporate and faith based politics. Indian politicians aren't allowed to interfere in the research that goes on anywhere in India. Science is kept out of the Indian politics.

    Government already has innumerable research based facilities. Those actually ARE the problem. The more institutes it creates the lesser funding the university in that area receives. Universities are dying due to the inception of specialized institutes.

    Science teachers in school are also a concerning factor. They teach for marks not for learning.
    Parents and the atmosphere around which is profit based is killing science. "The more money you have the more successful you are " won't let science strive in everyones mind.

    About the "only-for-people-with-intellectual-abilities-above-a-certain-level’ tag is unfortunately true thing. Not everyone understands science. If someone does, not everyone understands it completely. You do need some talent at your part to understand mother nature. Its said that " Physics is getting more and more difficult to understand, till the student receives all his education to work on certain mystery of nature, he/she is already too old"

    There is still so much to jot down about what you said.. But as a new comer here to your site I dont wanna start ona wrong footing hence I will end my rant :p

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