What if India hadn’t made friends with science?


Seventy-two years ago, colonial empires collapsed, and close to 80 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America became free nations. And each new nation had to plan for its future. Yet, among these 80, India was the lone nation that “made friends with science” as a policy for development. No other nation did so; it was unique and far-reaching!

Value Edition for Mains:

Our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru declared:

  • The future belongs to science and those who make friends with science.
  • Technology helps a country grow, but science is vital for technology to be born and to grow.

Growth and Welfare:

  • ” For our growth and welfare as an independent, democratic nation, we chose science and technology as major instruments.
  • A gallery of distinguished and patriotic scientists, technologists and thinkers were approached for advice, and their advice heeded.
  • Within a decade of independence, our food production tripled; small pox was eradicated;
  • harmonious sharing of the five Indus rivers with Pakistan was agreed upon;
  • dams and waterways was built and five IITs, two agricultural universities and one AIIMS were set up. 

‘Indian Science: Transforming India — A look back on its 70-year journey; impact of science in independent India”:

These articles showcase how:

  1. (i) modern science is the key;
  2. (ii) large scale applications are possible which can transform the economy of a nation;
  3. (iii) community participation is vital for understanding, acceptance and practice,
  4. (iv) a sense of daring or challenging existing mores is important and (v) how a ready adaptation of ‘modern biology’, and its use for general welfare is appreciated even by rural populations.

The Transformation:

  • How the indelible ink, used to identify voters, was first developed by Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, way back in the 1940s for the CSIR in Calcutta.
  • How the information technology (IT) revolution came about. It comes as a revelation to read that Dr P. C. Mahalanobis (who started the Indian Statistical Institute, ISI) helped fabricate computing machines locally in 1943, and how one of the earliest (analog) computers was the joint baby of ISI and Jadavpur University. Sharma recalls the untiring efforts of Dr R. Narasimhan at TIFR Bombay in developing the TIFRAC digital computer
  • How organic chemistry gave birth in India to generic drugs, and how Dr Yusuf Hamied of Cipla dared major multinational pharma companies and began making and selling anti-HIV drugs to needy patients in Africa for a dollar a day per patient.
  • how India’s White Revolution, and how community partnership and ownership was brought about by Mr Verghese Kurien, making India the largest milk producer in the world. 
  • the technique of laser-assisted cutting of diamonds and quickly made Surat the capital of diamond processing technology of the world.


Leave a Reply