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         through their own R&D. We should never let them fall into disrepute, and crumble into moribund hubs of inertia and apathy.
Quality of science research done by these scientists was of such eminence that even the biased, prejudiced colonial masters had to accept their brilliance. It seems almost unbelievable that the pioneers could pick up original research questions with élan, conduct research under dire constraints of time, lack of infrastruc- ture, meager resources, unavailability of instruments, suppression and discrimi- nation by the government, and still could achieve laudable milestones in scientific research. JC Bose said that Indians had to conduct research with such rigour that nobody could find fault with their ex- perimental results or research methods because any slip on that account would be seen as incompetence and provoke a slur on the fair name of India. The scientists published their path-breaking research in the most prestigious jour- nals and the world had to sit up and take note, shower them with several awards, a Nobel prize, fellowships of Royal Society and much more.
Somewhere, this simple model of an original, fresh research idea explored through quality research has fallen into ruins post Independence. We do not carve new paths; just follow others on the trodden rut which, though conve- nient, could hardly make India a world leader. We have a huge output of research publications quantity-wise, but they fail to make any mark. The colonial mind set still shows its rigid face as interviewers, reviewers, peers or teachers who scoff at the stray researcher developing novel Indian perspectives.
Indian scientists today need to de- velop confidence in their potential, never shying away from venturing into origi- nal and relevant research useful for the country, and never compromising with the quality of research.
Science is not an elitist pursuit in ivory towers, was the firm belief of these scien-
tists. Hence, ‘civic and public diffusion of advancement of knowledge’ was their honorable objective. Scientific virtues of rational thinking, healthy doubt, curios- ity, questioning mindset, problem solv- ing attitude, could grant the society huge benefits apart from material paybacks. It was the duty of the intellectuals to present science in comprehensible ways to the public. To fulfill this vision, they became public professionals, delivering public lectures, giving demonstration for civil society audience, writing articles in regional languages, and establishing dedicated institutes for science populari- sation. PC Ray, through his volumes of
We need to rejuvenate science teaching, not only
in our stellar institutes but also in rural, tribal schools and colleges so that ‘we do not relinquish what was won after years of struggle.’ The takeaways from the dreams of the pioneer scientists that they visualised are many and very relevant.
A History of Hindu Chemistry (1902 & 1908), Satyendra Nath Bose by es- tablishing The Science Association of Bengal (1948), Meghnad Saha through his journal Science and Culture (1935), and Ruchi Ram Sahni through his cel- ebrated public lectures made exemplary efforts to close the gap between science and masses of the pre-Independence era.
This dream of a scientifically ori- ented Indian population has as yet re- mained unfulfilled. Science popularisa- tion has been pushed to the periphery by the single-minded pursuit of lucrative, tangible benefits of science. The com- munity remains vulnerable to the on- slaught of superstitions, herd mentality, lack of creative and critical thinking, non-compliance of scientific protocols of health and hygiene and unable to reap the benefits of science advancements,
thus bogging down the country’s prog- ress. The dearth of scientific literature in regional languages needs to be filled. Indian academics have to come forward to shoulder this responsibility which is seen as lacklustre and comparatively less glorious than pursuit of hard science.
Teaching too was a nationalist agenda. Most of these scientists, who were inter- national celebrities, were teachers first and taught in colleges and universities. These pioneers inspired whole genera- tions of students who went on to become illustrious scientists themselves, creat- ing a domino effect of excellence. All of them emphasised the significance of a good teacher, excellent teaching and a sustainable relationship between the teacher and the taught. The scientists were quick to identify that the institutes opened by the British were teaching sci- ence to the Indians with a not-so-hidden agenda of producing non-thinking enti- ties skilled in taking orders and look- ing at science through the slavish lenses of colonial rule. To break this vicious chain the scientists molded their students in their own images demonstrating ex- traordinary examples of the far-reaching influence of an effective teacher.
The power play of research has taken the central role in our higher education institutes undermining the indispens- able role of good teaching. We need to rejuvenate science teaching, not only in our stellar institutes but also in invisible, rural, tribal schools and colleges so that ‘we do not relinquish what was won af- ter years of struggle.’
The takeaways from the dreams of the pioneer scientists that they visualised hundred years ago are many and sur- prisingly very relevant. We have to prove ourselves worthy successors.
*The writer is Faculty, Human Resource Development Centre, Panjab University, Chandigarh. In 2013, she was the recipient of National Award for the best short film on ‘New Drugs for Tuberculosis’, conferred by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Open Source Drug Delivery and Vigyan Prasar.

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