Page 19 - Aug 2021
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 A potrait of Radhanath Sikdar, who calculated the exact height of Mt. Everest, yet has languished on the sidelines of glory that he truly deserved
similar qualifications and experience were immediately placed in the IES by the Secretary of State. When Ray com- plained about this unequal treatment, the response of the British authority was, ‘There are other walks of life open to you. Nobody compels you to accept this appointment’. It is sad to note that Acharya Ray, a true nationalist whom the British referred to as ‘revolution- ary in the garb of a scientist’, had to be content with discriminatory position in Provincial Service throughout his life.
To HB Medlicott, head of Geologi- cal Survey of India (GSI), Indians ap- peared utterly incapable of any original work in natural science. He wanted to wait till the “scientific chord among the natives” was touched, and added most contemptuously “if indeed it exists as yet in this variety of human race let us exercise a little discretion with our weaker brethren, and not expect them to run before they can walk”. Superses- sion of PN Bose, an accomplished ge- ologist with a degree of Royal School of Mines, London, by T Holland, who was 10 years junior to him in service, for the position of Director, Geological Survey of India, reflects the humiliating attitude towards native Indians. However, he did not accept the subordination of a less ca- pable junior colleague and preferred to resign from GSI citing its discriminatory policies against his fellow countrymen. He was aware of the fact that all his previous geological discoveries would be used by the British Raj. Thus, when he discovered rich iron ore reserves in Mayurbhanj, he brought it to the notice of Swadeshi industrialist, Jamsetji Tata. The industrialist provided resources to Bose to invest his knowledge of science and geology in setting up the first iron and steel industry, TISCO (Tata Iron and Steel Company).
It is beyond the scope of this write-
up to make a complete account of the struggle of our audacious scientists — both celebrated and unsung — who fought for a place and recognition in the scientific domain during the British Raj. Under colonialism, any effort to ex- ert the indigenous talent or to promote and apply it to local progress was a chal- lenge to the superiority of the masters. Though it may seem that most of the scientists did not directly participate in the political struggle, their ideological
Under colonialism,
any effort to exert the indigenous talent or to promote and apply it to local progress was a challenge to the superiority of the masters
underpinnings to scientific pursuits re- flected a definite form of struggle. Their contribution in the struggle for indepen- dence is by all means at par with that of Gokhale, Tilak, Bhagat Singh and oth- ers. Their struggle meant to bring about an international status for science in In- dia and thereby reassert their national scientific identity. These scientists, who contested the intellectual hegemony of the British, were in fact, responsible for the emergence of Indian nationalism in the freedom struggle. At this important moment of transition, when the coun- try celebrates 75 years of Independence, Indian society, in general, and scientific fraternity, in particular, must acknowl- edge the sacrifices made by these lumi- naries and draw inspiration to commit themselves for the pride of our great country Bharat!
*The writer is Director, National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research, New Delhi.
        Image Courtesy: Internet

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