Page 40 - Aug 2021
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  Pioneering scientists such as Ruchi Ram Sahni (above), JC Bose (above, right, seated centre) and Satyendra Nath Bose (right) made exemplary efforts to close the gap between science and masses of the pre- Independence era.
tolerance, a deep emphasis on medita- tion and reflection, Indian ideology was different in many ways from Western Science which emphasised on homog- enous, instrumentalist methods. How can Indian scientists be true to their own tradition and also seek recognition in modern science? What is it that India can contribute to the universal science from its unique but subjugated position? And how can India, lagging in the practice of science, contribute on an equal foot- ing with the West which had marched much ahead?
The pioneers churned out quite clear and confident responses to their quest, with no hint of inferiority, servility or lack of courage that comes with being a colonial subject. India, they believed, was never to mix the magical and mys- tical ancient mythology with hardcore science. Its engagement with science was to be a positive commitment with universal modern science. What India could give was the ‘vision of holistic sci- ence, away from excessive specialisation’, ‘not guided too much by materialistic consideration for its fruits and power’,
and ‘purging of the feverish rush for the exploitation of knowledge’. These scientists through their own lives and work proved that the ‘world’s advance in science would be incomplete without India’s active cooperation’. We need to engage with this posturing, adopt it, con- nect with it and strengthen it.
The scientists were doubly disadvan- taged as they had to depend on British institutions for validation and funding while fighting their colonial masters. Though the British opened science in- stitutes in the country, the possibility to work with dignity and freedom was bleak. The injustice meted out, by not granting due position and salary despite meritorious qualifications, being treated at the lowest rung in the administrative hierarchy, getting burdened with heavy workload with no time or energy left
for doing high quality research high- lighted the stark fact that for the British, Indians with brilliant scientific minds were merely salaried employees to do the bidding as told. The moment they dissented, disciplinary action could be taken against them. There was no way to ignore the grim reality that there was no Indian science ecosystem to fa- cilitate and legitimise the research of Indian scientists. Hence, the vision to establish purely Indian bodies of science with complete autonomy of funding and functioning, aimed at training Indian men and women in scientific disciplines grew organically from their trials and tribulations. While ML Sircar started Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in 1876 — the first national science association of India, JC Bose es- tablished Basu Vigyan Mandir in 1917, funded and supported privately without any government patronage, entirely by Indian community. Ashutosh Mukher- jee, through public funds, established the College of Science with Taraknath Palit Professorship chair in Physics and Chem- istry. Sircar also initiated the publication of Calcutta Journal of Medicine (1868) and created an indigenous space for the publication of Indian research papers.
Today, this struggle to have ‘ease of doing research’ is a thing of yore with myriad national institutes in the coun- try developing indigenous technologies
        Image Courtesy (Left and Below): Wikimedia Commons
Image Courtesy: Bose Institute

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