Page 32 - Aug 2021
P. 32

 Scientists who
Turned Diplomats to Fight
British Rule
Undeterred by colonial subversion, India’s intellectuals and scientists took a diplomatic detour to push indigenous efforts to study, propagate and utilise modern science for country’s independence
The success of CV Raman (left) inspired Indians to work outside the colonial support system. Wishing to bring the world’s best to India, Madan Mohan Malaviya (centre) wrote to Albert Einstein, inviting him to BHU (right)
    n Dr Chaitanya Giri
The chronicle of modern science in India is astonishing. It has been a collective effort of an ensemble of institution builders, scientists, acade- micians, diplomats, philosophers, seers, and strategists. This polymath ensemble ran a marathon for over two hundred years with a singular goal of unleashing India’s true scientific potential shrouded by colonial subversion. This marathon needs deep contemplation to support India’s present-day science diplomacy as it matures.
India of the 1700s, as per the re-
nowned economist Angus Maddison’s historical macro-economic trends, had the second-highest contributions to the global gross domestic product (GDP) at nearly 23%, behind China and a rank higher than Europe. However, as Europe steadily built a global colonial network, it acquired an upper hand over India and China that had lost their naval power. Europe, China, and India were all pro- to-industrialised at par until the 18th century. However, Europe’s colonial ambitions and naval expansion became a significant driver of the First Industrial Revolution, its ensuing scientific prog- ress, and economics revolving around it.
The British, piggybacking on its lead in the First Industrial Revolution and their control over Bengal after the deci- sive battles of Plassey (1757) and Buxar (1764), got the bandwidth to raise scien- tific infrastructure to pursue their geo-
political interests in India. This was the same period when the British East India Company (BEIC) established the first modern state-run scientific institution, the Survey of India, in 1767. The second half of the 18th century saw the BEIC fighting the Carnatic wars (1746-1763), the Anglo-Mysore wars (1767-1799) and the Anglo-Maratha wars (1775-1819) and extending political hold over large swathes of India’s territories.
As the BEIC annexed territories, it simultaneously began undertaking rev- enue, marine, meteorological, agricul- tural, topographical, and trigonometric surveys. The Trigonometric Survey of India megaproject had BEIC’s military imprints on it. The BEIC also set up ob- servatories in the port-cities of Calcutta (1786), Madras (1796), and Bombay (1826) to help their maritime and hinter- land trade. The BEIC’s establishment of
        Images Courtesy:I nternet

   30   31   32   33   34