New Adventure of Indian Science – A Foray into History and Fiction for Solace

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“I have read every word of the Vedas, the Upanishads, ancient epics and other Aryan literature.”

These words are not mine. These are written by Bhagwan S Gidwani (better known as the writer of the popular Indian television drama “The Sword of Tipu Sultan”) in the introduction of his book “March of the Aryans”. Though the author cannot establish a proof to his claim, he may rely on his enthusiastic reader to believe or to fail to spot the glossed premise. Then the author goes ahead to conclude his introduction with a maxim, “But where history falters for lack of fact or interpretation, the field is open to the novelist.” So right he is!

My anxious wait midst of rhetorical enunciation was over; and it incited me to bury myself in the journey of the entire story. The novelist had made the story so real and non-fictional.

Ridiculously similar thing happened in the recently concluded Indian Science Congress held at the University of Mumbai. The annual flagship event of Indian scientific community was more in news due to the raised noise projecting Indian roots in all global inventions and innovations of today. Somebody could flash a 20th century literature to fake the achievements in aviation technologies in the name of one of the most revered saint of ancient India, Maharshi Bharadwaja. They did not know that India is still not in a position of producing a commercial aircraft. Others preached from chemistry to surgery; ah, I forgot, they presented academic papers! Great presenters and still greater peers. Themed around science and technology for human development, the event ended up conveying a message to the world how we were engrossed with our novel quest that would make even a serious novelist envious. It looked as though Indian science had gone far beyond facts and rational thoughts into the realm of verbal history and fiction.

Indian science needs boost; not India’s past. Science in today’s India still plays second fiddle to the Western nations’; India in the long past never did. Science writing today is more obscure even to the same community in general; ancient India’s findings were elucidated in an opulent manner for the reader and learner (paradigm of recording was different though). In such a situation, Indian Science community, Indian government and rational Indians should focus in inculcating scientific temper in the present society and to develop a flourishing scientific community for faster and better overall growth as a nation. India’s rich past does not need to tie an unholy knot with the present to re-establish its glorious facets.

A researched note is no bad. A controversial finding is no harmful either. But the debate must be based on facts and figure if we are to scrutinize any scientific record, past or present. The premise cannot be filled with the gleam of religious chauvinism or with lustre of exotic yet mythical past. If the Government of India wishes to fulfill the longstanding wishes of Indian intellectuals, they should start an initiative to restore and popularize the admired yet no so widely read books and records of India (mostly written in Sanskrit). It can be in a bigger scale than what British did with the help of elite and learned Indians centuries ago to discover the gems of Indian culture, literature, science and mathematics.

But don’t do this one-night stand with lazy and ignorant arguments. Sick I am with this, like you my friend. It’s a condemnable foray into fictional realm when you are tired of competition, and fail to innovate.

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