- Mr. Ratnakar Sadasyula
|'Pure Science' battles death??
The Internet started off as a network to share information among people doing scientific research.
Television was developed because of the transistor technology which in turn owed its invention to Theory of Super-conductivity.
It was Johannes Kepplers’ law that made the invention of satellites possible.
If we take any great invention in recent times, we found that all of them had a foundation in scientific laws.
Basically, science has two streams – Pure or basic sciences, is the development of scientific theories. It is highly theoretical in nature, and does not consider the application. It is research for research sake.
Applied science is the art of applying these scientific theories for practical problems.
For eg. Theory of Superconductivity belongs to realm of pure science, it was a theory developed by John Bardeen, Applied science used this theory to invent the transistor.
An inventor does not create something new, he simply uses existing scientific theories to solve a problem practically. Thomas Alva Edison was an inventor, he did not come up with any ground breaking theory. All he did was use the existing scientific theories to come up with his inventions. But Issac Newton was a scientist foremost, he did not invent anything, but he made ground breaking discoveries in science, and laid foundation for it.
So we can see that ‘Pure Science’ and ‘Applied Science’ have a very close relationship. But the fact is that without Pure Science, Applied Science can not exist. Had there been no Mathematics, we would not be using computers today, because a majority of computer software is modeled on mathematical principles. What is a database, but an application of the set theory we learnt at school.
Unfortunately in the craze for BPO-IT, we are neglecting the pure science stream in India. As it is, we never strongly invested in research, and we are now totally neglecting it. The claims of us being a knowledge superpower are a big joke. Knowledge in what, using 3rd party tools to create an application. Ok we might create very efficient applications with good project management, but at end of day, we are simply doing screwdriver technology.
Bill Gates and the US MNC’s may go wah wah over our supposed brain power and computing skills, but lets be clear. They look at us only as sources of cheap labor. We are no more than glorified cyber coolies. Unless we invest in research, we can’t claim to be a knowledge super power. But the reality is something different. Currently not many opt for pure sciences stream, as IT-BPO pays more. No issues with that. And we cant blame the students also.
The science departments in a majority of our universities suffer from incompetence, outdated syllabi, nepotism. Ph.D.’s are copied outright, and if you can suck up to your mentor, you would get a good rating. New ideas are rarely encouraged, and what happens in most of these science departments is groupism.
Take a scenario. A young researcher comes up with a new idea, and presents it to his professor. Now the professor’s ego comes into picture, he can’t let his protégé appear brighter than him. So the young person, is subjected to a cycle of red tapism, and by the time the report appears, he would have lost all interest in it. In such an environment, is it any wonder that the best of Indian minds wouldn’t want to go into research. They would migrate to the West, where universities offer a much better environment for research.
Should we really feel proud of the fact that 70% of the employees in NASA are Indians, when we need those 70% to contribute to our space programme.
It’s not just the academic community that’s to blame, India Inc, needs to take a large responsibility also. Our IT giants like Wipro, Infosys, TCS earn so much money, but do they spend it on research. No they just blow it up on fancy campuses, which are not really necessary. Why doesn’t Narayana Murthy or Azim Premji or Kiran Karnik, set up a corpus fund for doing research? The truth is they are just interested in massaging their own ego. They don’t care at all for the deteriorating state of research in the country, as long as they get their dollars rolling in, and a fawning media, eulogizing them. US Inc spends nearly 700$ billion on research, India Inc not even a fraction of that. I tell this, because I work in John F Welch Tech Center, which is GE’s R&D center in Bangalore. Why can’t our Indian companies, set up something like that? I guess our CEO’s and IT czars are too busy promoting themselves and their kids, or attending Page 3 parties to think of such things.
And last but not the least, the youth. Ok today we are making money with BPO and ITES, but in the long run that won’t last my friends. We have become obsessed with money, and care a damn for knowledge. We can never be a superpower unless we have the intellectual man power. Research is something where we need to think, to understand. Unfortunately in the race for quick money, we have stopped thinking. We want results that’s all.
Pure science is dying a slow death. Many of us are responsible for it. The academic community, the students, industry. Unless we step in and revive that field, we have no right to call ourselves a knowledge superpower. We are no better than a screwdriver technology nation or to put it more bluntly a coolie country.|
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