Science has been anything but uniform in time and space. Periods of rapid advance
have alternated with long periods of stagnation and even of decay. India, along with other
older civilizations of Babylonia, Egypt and China, has been a focus of ancient science.
Science in India, closely intertwined with culture and philosophy, tempered with wisdom
flourished for centuries. However, strong influences of foreign invasions subdued it as
the colonial rulers were largely interested in activities which enhanced their own economic
prosperity. A well-known historian of science has traced Our Heritage.
Resurgence of Science in India came as an offshoot of the nationalist movement,
towards the end of 19th century and early decades of the 20th century. Exposure to modern
science as we call it today in India is a product of renaissance in Europe. Translation by
foreign scholars of ancient Indian writings in Sanskrit which were lying dormant, and the
founding of the Asiatic Society played a significant role in this movement. A few
exceptionally talented and committed scientists and teachers of that period laid the solid
foundation of Indian science by their zeal, dedication and sacrifice. We have built an edifice
over it. The Section on The Torch Bearers of Indian Renaissance is not merely a tribute to those
leaders but is a reminder that science is like a mighty river which keeps flowing through the
Mahatma Gandhi played a monumental role in leading India's freedom movement
and inspired exceptional men and women who became architects of modern India.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India realized that the economic progress
and well-being of the nation depended on science and technology driven development
and inculcation of scientific temper among the masses. Thus, science and technology inputs
were made an intrinsic part of the planning process and development strategies. Many
institutions were created soon after Independence to promote basic research and
technological progress. An eminent scientist presents Science and Technology Since
Independence: An Overview.
During the decades following Independence, through pragmatic policies, a large
base for scientific research was created in the universities and through the establishment of
a network of National Laboratories in core disciplines and in newly emerging areas. These
early investments paid rich dividends as many notable research contributions emanated
from our laboratories and India came to be recognized as a rich centre of trained scientific
human power. Research contributions from India in diverse branches of science and
technology are presented in the Section In Search of Excellence, which highlight the most
exciting aspects of Indian efforts in advancing the frontiers of knowledge.
The commitment by successive Prime Ministers and Government of India towards
promotion of Science and Technology has led to the establishment of several departments
and agencies to spearhead programmers in critical sectors. The Section In Service of the Nation
outlines the efforts made towards attaining indigenous capabilities and global
competitiveness in areas ranging from food sufficiency to development of drugs and
vaccines for health care and from nuclear energy to satellite launches.
Indian tradition from time immemorial has been to share knowledge and its fruits
with the entire humanity. In keeping with this ethos, we lay great emphasis on forging
strong links with scientific communities and establishments in other parts of the world.
Whereas references have been made to the opportunities for sharing our facilities and
possibilities of collaborating research in many of the individual chapters, a separate
narrative International Linkages reviews the formal bilateral, regional and international
programmers that are currently operative. It is hoped that these programmes will encourage
the coming together of scientists from the countries of the South in our common Endeavour
to improve the quality of science and technology and its applications.
In Looking Ahead, one of our leading practicing scientists reflects upon our
achievements and outlines the unfinished agenda for the future.
In the final Chapter, a brief account of INSA, the premier scientific body in the
country to promote and nurture science and scientists, has been provided.
A volume of this magnitude could not have been possible without the participation
and inputs of many persons. For compiling the information, all the Fellows of INSA as
well as scientific departments of the Government and its agencies were approached.
Individual scientists qualified in special areas were requested to prepare the articles
presented here, using the inputs received. All the reports have been suitably edited without
sacrificing their flavor. A decision was taken by the Academy to avoid mentioning the
names of living persons in the text. I am deeply conscious that in such an Endeavour errors,
omissions and overlaps are unavoidable. The work of many individuals, institutions and
organizations might have remained insufficiently represented. This is entirely unintentional.
Names of several cities have recently been changed. For historical reasons the older and
internationally familiar names have been retained in the first two sections.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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