Page 5 - Science India August 2022
P. 5

Systematic Decimation of India’s Strengths Through Science
While the British used science to subjugate India in every area — from agriculture, textile and metallurgy to its natural resources and self-esteem, Indian scientists re-infused the country with national pride and contributed to the freedom struggle
   n Jayant Sahasrabudhe
The legendary astrophysicist Dr S Chandrasekhar (1910- 1995), a co-recipient of the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics, was once asked: ‘Why was there a sudden surge of modern scientists of interna- tional repute in the first three decades of 20th century in India?’ He replied: ‘There was a need for national self- expression — to show the West that, in all realms including science, Indi- ans were equals.’
The first three decades of the 20th century will forever remain an important chapter in India’s history as that is when the ancient civilisation of Bharat asserted itself to eventually reclaim its rightful place on the inter- national stage. The citizens of Bharat became alive to their glorious iden- tity as inheritors of an unparalleled civilisation. The process of awareness had become much earlier but found its firm footing in the 20th century, affecting men and women in all walks of life, all age groups, all professions, all classes, all ideologies.
Much has been written about the contributions made by political and social leaders of the country who forged a new path for Bharat to drive out the British in 1947. Truly, it would
never be enough to sing their paeans as they not only won Swatantrata for Bharat but also inspired colonised na- tionalities across Asia and Africa to follow Bharat’s example.
Yet, it is unfortunate that in this saga of freedom struggle, our scien- tists have largely remained unsung, and almost unknown to the common Indians. Moreover, even though they fought against heavy odds and waged a battle as important as those of In- dian political leaders, we as a society are yet to acknowledge and perceive scientists as warriors of the struggle for Swantantrata.
In fact, there is enough historical information about how ‘science’ was utilised as a potent tool to establish and consolidate exploitative Brit- ish rule in India; how the oppressive and discriminatory measures were exercised by colonial rulers against
Indians in the scientific domain; and most importantly, there are inspira- tional accounts of the struggle as to how those repressive measures were challenged and how the counterattack emerged in an intelligent manner.
Now, the time is ripe to make ear- nest efforts to explore the struggle that was carried out in the domain of science and awaken the people by telling hitherto untold stories of au- dacious scientific ventures that could create impulse in the hearts of fellow Indians to achieve Swantantrata.
Several essays and critiques of British rule — right from Indians to Britishers themselves, and even before Bharat’s Swatantrata — have established that the ‘higher’ aim of the British rule was to obliterate Indian identity and replace that with British ideas and ide-

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