Science and Technology in India

Ancient India

  • Arithmetic is called by several names such as Pattin Ganita (calculations on board), Anka Ganita (calculations with numerals).
  • Geometry is called Rekha Ganita (line works) and Algebra, Bija Ganita (seed analysis), Astronomy and Astrology are included in the term Jyotisa


  • Jyotishvedanga texts
  • Aryabhatta (499 AD)- Aryabhattiya-separate sections on astronomical definitions, methods of determining the true position of the planets, description of the movement of the sun and the moon and the calculation of the eclipses
  • Varahamihira in Panch Siddhantika gives the summary of five schools of astronomy
  • Aryabhatta deviated from Vedic astronomy-Aryabhatta’s theories showed a distinct departure from astrology which stressed more on beliefs than scientific explorations
  • Varahamihira’s Brihatsamhita-6th century AD- moon rotated around the earth and the earth rotated around the sun


  • Originated from the Sulvasutras
  • Apastamba in second century BC, introduced practical geometry involving acute angle, obtuse angle and right angle
  • three main contributions-notation system, the decimal system and the use of zero.
  • notations and the numerals-West by the Arabs & replaced the Roman numerals
  • Zero-discovered in India in the second century BC.
  • Brahmagupta’s Brahmasputa Siddhanta 1st book to mention Zero as a number.
  • Aryabhatta-area of a triangle-origin of Trignometry
  • Surya Siddhanta


  • Diseases, cure and medicines were mentioned for the first time in the Atharva Veda
  • Takshila and Taranasi
  • Charaksamhita by Charak and Sushrutsamhita by Sushruta reached as far as China, Central Asia through translations in various languages
  • Charaksamhita- plants and herbs used for medicinal- Surgery- Sushruta mentions 121 surgical instruments, methods of operations, bone setting, cataract, mentions 760 plants


  • Vedic people were aware of fermenting grain and fruits, tanning leather and the process of dyeing
  • 1stAD- iron, copper, silver, gold and of alloys like brass and bronze
  • Iron pillar in the Qutub Minar
  • Alkali and acids for medicines, Textile dyeing, Ajanta frescoes
  • bronze image of Buddha- Sultanganj (Near Bhagalpur)


  • Lothal-Gujarat remains dockyard-trade flourished by sea
  • tirtha and tirtha yatra, Puranas, sthala purana

Medieval Period

  • Maktabs and madrasas institutions
  • Sheikh Abdullah and Sheikh Azzizullah, specialists in Rational Sciences (Magulat), headed the madrasas at Sambhal and Agra
  • karkhana (workshops)- maintained by the kings & nobles, served as centres for technical and vocational training to young men
  • Biology
    • Hamsadeva compiled Mrga-pasi-sastra-13th– beasts and birds of hunting
    • Akbar- breeds of domestic animals, elephants and horses
    • Jahangir- Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri- weeding and hybridization- thirty-six species of animals-Court Artist Mansur produced elegant and accurate portraiture of animals,
    • Jahangir- fifty-seven plants
  • Mathematics
    • Brahmagupta given a description of negative numbers as debts and positive numbers as fortunes
    • Ganitasara by Sridhara and Lilavati by Bhaskara
    • Ganesh Daivajna- Buddhivilasini, a commentary on Lilavati- illustrations
    • Lilavati was translated into Persian by Faidi -1587
    • Bija Ganita was translated by Ataullah Rashidi during Shah Jahan’s reign.
    • Nilkantha Jyotirvid, a courtier of Akbar, compiled Tajik, introducing a large number of Persian technical terms.
    • Akbar ordered the introduction of mathematics as a subject of study, among others in the educational system
    • BahauddinAmuli, Nasiruddin Tusi, Arraq and Al-Kashi
    • Nasiruddin Tusi, the founder director of the Maragha observatory
  • Chemistry
    • Kashmir, Sialkot, Zafarabad, Patna, Murshidabad, Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Mysore were well-known centres of paper production
    • During Tipu’s time, Mysore possessed a paper-making factory, producing a special type of paper that had a gold surface
    • Mughals knew the technique of production of gunpowder and its use in guns
    • Indian craftsmen learnt the technique and evolved suitable explosive compositions- using saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal in different ratios
    • Tuzuk-i–Baburi gives an account of the casting of cannons
    • Ain-i-Akbari speaks of the ‘Regulations of the Perfume Office of Akbar’
    • attar of roses was a popular perfume- Nurjehan
  • Astronomy
    • Ujjain, Varanasi, Mathura and Delhi
    • Firoz Shah Tughaq established observation posts at Delhi.
    • Firoz Shah Bahmani under Hakim Hussain Gilani and Syed Muhammad Kazimi set up an observatory in Daulatabad
    • Mehendra Suri, a court astronomer of Firoz Shah- astronomical instrument called Yantraja
    • Parameshvara and Mahabhaskariya were famous families of astronomers and almanac-makers.
    • Nilakantha Somasutvan produced a commentary on Aryabhatta. Kamalakar studied the Islamic ideas on astronomy. He was an authority on Islamic knowledge as well.
    • Jaipur Maharaja, Sawai Jai Singh II set five astronomical observatories in Delhi, Ujjain, Varanasi, Mathura and Jaipur
  • Medicine
    • Sarangdhara Samhita recommends use of opium for medicines
    • rasachikitsa system, dealt principally with a host of mineral medicines including metallic preparations.
    • Tuhfat-ul-Muminin was a Persian treatise written by Muhammad Munin in seventeenth century which discusses the opinions of physicians.
    • Unani Tibb-system of medicine
    • Ali-bin-Rabban- summarized the whole system of Greek medicine as well as the Indian medical knowledge in the book Firdausu-Hikmat
    • Hakim Diya Muhammad compiled a book, Majinye Diyae, incorporating the Arabic, Persian and Ayurvedic medical knowledge.
    • Firoz Shah Tughlaq wrote a book, Tibbe Firozshahi
    • Tibbi Aurangzebi, dedicated to Aurangzeb, is based on Ayurvedic sources. The Musalajati-Darashikohi of Nuruddin Muhammad, dedicated to Darashikoh deals with Greek medicine
  • Agriculture
    • introduction of new crops, trees and horticultural
    • wheat, rice, barley, millets, pulses, oilseeds, cotton,
      sugarcane and indigo
    • Western Ghats continued to yield black pepper of good quality
      and Kashmir maintained its tradition for saffron and fruits
    • Malwa and Bihar were also well known for the production of opium
    • field of irrigation, wells, tanks, canals, rahats, charas (bucket made of leather) and dhenkli, were used to lift water
    • Persian wheel was used in and around Agra region

Modern Period

  • Second Five Year Plan emphasised that “the most important
    single factor in promoting economic development is the community’s readiness to apply modem science and technology
  • Department of Science and Technology-1971
  • Agriculture
    • cultivation of hybrid seeds to energy management in agriculture and post-harvest technology
    • Role of Indian Council for Agricultural Research
    • different sectors of agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and forestry
    • Challenges- increasing the yields of rice, pulses, oilseeds and many cash crops; initiating plantations and promoting social forestry; and shifting from agriculture based on chemical fertilizers to organic fertilizers
  • Industry
    • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Defence Research and Development Orgnisation (DRDO)
    • indigenous agricultural machinery, chemicals, drugs and pesticides, products in the areas of food technology, furnished leather goods, glass and ceramics, colour television, and receiver sets
    • Development of Missiles
  • Nuclear Energy
    • Atomic Energy Commission in 1948
    • 1957- Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) was established at Trombay
    • Nuclear Station- Tarapur (Maharashtra), Kota (Rajasthan), Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu), Narora (UP) and Kakrapar (Gujarat)
    • increase in indigenous content of nuclear power reactors
  • Space Technology
    • 1st Indian space satellite Aryabhatta in 1975
    • Bhaskara I and Bhaskara II from Soviet Union
    • Rohini satellite on India’s own SLV-3 rocket
    • Apple satellite on the European Arianne rocket
    • experiment in education-SITE-1975
    • INSAT I-IB, launched in 1983
  • Electronics
    • Radio and television sets, communication systems, broadcasting equipments, radars, nuclear reactors, power control systems and underwater systems
    • Semi-Conductor Limited (Chandigarh), National
      Computer Centre (Bombay), National Information Centre (New Delhi)
  • Medical and Health Sciences
    • preventing and treating various diseases
    • Small pox has been eradicated
    • Treatment
      of diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, filaria, goitre, and cancer has been considerably improved
    • controlling communicable diseases
    • increased life expectancy appreciably and death rate has declined
    • immunisation programme reduced infant mortality
  • Ocean Development
    • department of Ocean Development-1981
    • vessels ORV Sagar Kanya and FORV Sagar Sampada
    • Sea-bed mining using the research ship Gaveshna
    • Research station named Dakshin Gangotri on the Antartica
  • Other Areas
    • Oil and Natural Gas Commission
    • Central Ganga Authority
  • Key Facts: India has the 3rd largest scientific and technical manpower in the world

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