Somehow, even being trained as an engineer, I could appreciate something in science!
It all begin in my childhood in a same way It begins in every Indians childhood. The pretty stories about science and the wonder of its. But you have to grow up to depreciate this science which has taken roots in folklores.
In our most reputed university, by common consent, Indian Institute of Science, there is a Center for Sustainable Technologies, known as ASTRA (Application of Science and Technologies for Rural Area). It is a curious irony that the abbreviation came out be of destructive meaning! One institute in India which is now in news for all the wrong reasons these days is “Department of Atomic Energy” established in India by Homi Bhabha with the extraordinary support of Nehru. I am going to talk about two scientist, one is physicist and other is a chemist. Both were Banglorian, fellow alma-matters of London. Both of our men, physicists and the Chemists, had the deep and enduring commitment to their homeland. He went to study abroad when the our university were fledgling and came back after earning their degree. Neither of them had to wait to listen to “ye jo desh hai tera” or had to watch the more illustrious and longer version of this song, the movie, “Swadesh” for realizing what is better for them. Whether they should build their own institutes or market themselves in the bazaars of West?
Well, they came back and yet trod on the diagonally opposite paths. One went to produce bombs in the disguise of making atomic energy (DAE has achieved 10% of atomic energy what Bhabha had promised!) other went to make technology for masses while naming his center after a thing which is well qualified for the synonym of destruction.While one of them devoted his life to the greater cause for glorifying Indian state, other chose to bend it to the service of the Indian Villager – those damn-ugly trouble-making lesser mortals.
Another center with more-or-less same values is in IIT bombay which, curiously and interestingly has the pleasing name “CITARA”. A dim and twinkling but still a star.
But how come only one of them could become our hero? Yes, I am talking about Raja Ramana. He is known in India as the father of Indian Nuclear program and respected in Pakistan for preventing nuclear war. Our chemists is however known as AKN Reddy. Once he was documented by someone to remark, “Developing countries must not and will not allow themselves to be distracted from the imperatives of economic development and growth by the illusory dream of an atmosphere free from smoke or a landscape innocent of chimney stacks.” Meanwhile some prominent voices in the West were boasting, “Smoke is an indication of work . . . therefore, we are proud of our smoke.” [http://www.vagabondjourney.com/90-in-09-industrialization-india.shtml]. Now I don’t want to comment about Copenhagen!
Anyway, coming forward to my time, We are hearing a lot of Nuclear Energy. Pacts signed by India and US, India and France, India and Russia. Some to supply reactors, others to supply fuel. The assessments of this trade had been done only by DAE or the vulgar cheerleaders of bombs. DAE, being the most secretive organization in India is hard to trust. I go along with the simple notion, “If something is not accountable and transparent it could be anything but science.” I forgot who coined this line! Anyway, our cheerleaders who are generally known the euphemism ‘Defense Expert’ write in almost all of our Newpapers, more or less repeating the same lines, “BUILD BOMBS, LARGER BOMBS, BETTER BOMBS, GOOD BOMBS, PATRIOT BOMBS, SMART BOMBS, …….” They never wield a gun but somehow, in the most active corner of their intellect, seem to be thinking about how to kill fellow humans. They tell to tax-payers, “This is the price you have to pay for your security.” While the dushman of the nation can create havoc with their second world war kind of weapons.. Even in US, their tactics were of pre-Nuke times. Too much to spend on this never-to-be-used technology, and worse if ever-to-be-used and no-one-is-left-to-remember consequences. Ha! Are you kidding, they can not be that destructive! Writing in indiatogether.org Ramachandra Guha insinuates that DAE is well qualified for a moral and financial scandal which can put Bofors and our petty politicians in shades! Ha, too much for our beloved BARC, which hosts best of our intelligent brains who are yet to figure out why two students were charred to death in one of his laboratory. Its time DAE starts producing its own X-Files.
APJ Kalam is well known but who knows Laurie Baker, a Keralite, an architecture who saved crores of rupees by his artful designs. Fortunately He has an article about him on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_Baker, while out chemist is not known even on Wiki. Probably Bakers, British-born tag! What you say? Brown skin.. rubbing fair-and-handsome on your hated-skin!! Are you worth it too?
On this new year, lets explore other possibilities.. That serving our own motherland could be as rewarding in some sense as selling ourselves in Western bazaars (Yes I don’t have a global vision, till any farmer is committing suicide or worse anyone is sleeping hungry in my own motherland.) .. That our career can not longer is significant in DRDO or DAE, CTARA or ASTRA can be our dreamed destinations too.. That we can learn from Baker as much as We can learn from Bhabha or Kalam.. That the path of Reddy is as significant as the path of Ramanna.. That a paper pencil research (pure research) is not a sin to commit in our poor nation.. That a weapon is disgraceful, even it is the most powerful and own by us!
I myself sure dont want to see my generation becoming a generation in which only power/market/bombs worshiper are only afloat as role models. One may tell one story! Andre. a character in Bertolt Bretch’s Galileo remarks that ‘Unhappy is the land where there is no heroes’. To this Galileo responds: ‘No, Unhappy the land that needs heroes.’ I can not understand whom I should agree with!
With all these jewels lying around, Do we have to worship anyone from land-far-away whoes name is somewhat Indian? And of-course, No scientist can not be great who ever posed happily in military uniform after knowing the significance of what He had done!