Introspection by a young Indian

I’m sure most Indians would have heard two contradicting views about India. Firstly, the arguments claiming India to be a prosperous and well developed region (cluster of provinces) before colonization and claims to have proof for their argument. Secondly, the argument (especially foreigners) considering Indians as people who are boastful of their past arguable achievements, without having any present day significance. This contradiction made me think. Initially like everyone else I tried to find which one is the truth but soon realized that I’m missing something bigger and more important.  I started so discover a certain degree of agreement in the contradictory views. So, the soul of this post is to find the implicit fact agreed by both the proponents.

In the former argument there is a call for the Indians to not forget their roots which were apparently glorious and says that latter argument is developed by westerners (in particular by the British) to destroy our self-esteem. The latter argument just points out at our present day reality and asks for our recent contribution to the world development. If we get into verification of authenticity of either of the arguments we will be lost. We can’t deny the second argument but at the same time we can’t fall prey to it since we were indeed a slave nation under the British and we do see lack of self-esteem among Indians, who are willing to accept anything from the west and don’t like to appreciate the east. So let’s move on and check if there is any common ground in these two arguments.

Being a person who likes to define rules of the game before playing one, I want to define what is progress? Here is the way I look at it: Anything which makes us understand our universe better is progress. The only way to understand the universe better is through science. Thus my yardstick of progress is scientific progress. When we contribute to scientific progress it gives a sense of right to enjoy the modern day technological facilities or else metaphorically speaking, if we don’t contribute to science and enjoy its benefits then it is like living on other’s income by theft or robbery. Being a man with moral conscience scientific progress is the epitome of all kinds of progress which will make me proud in front of foreigners. It is the last frontier of a nation’s developmental challenge.

Now coming back to the two opposing views, one fact is accepted in both perspectives i.e., Indian contribution to scientific development (synonymous with development) in modern times is very less if not nil (thanks to CV Raman, Ramanujan, JC Bose). Major chunk of scientific work happens in America after WW2 (though CERN and some European universities continue to hold on) and before WW2 it was Europe which was the knowledge bowl of the world. So in past 400-500 years we are constantly lagging in the quest for knowledge. Whoever claims for Indian contribution inevitably goes before this period and in case they come up with some examples they will be exceptional people with a foreign institute affiliation. So where did we fail? I am forced to accept that we failed, but where?

Scientific progress asks for economic prosperity since the quest for satisfying the knowledge hunger comes only after satisfying the real hunger. India certainly had all the resources for economic development. Any simple study will reveal the reason behind huge population in India as abundance of natural resources here, apart from petroleum. Hence economic progress with men and material power must not have been a problem. But, both scientific and economic progress asks for one key factor which was completely missing in India and it is often neglected around the world. That key factor is political stability. The political instability and lack of governance not just derailed our scientific progress but also our economic and every other forms of progress. This is where our ancestors failed us. They couldn’t give political stability and protection because of lack of foresight, will, interest and presence of selfishness.

Now that I have arrived at some sort of conclusion what is more worrying for me is that we continue to commit the same mistake as that of our ancestors’. We continue our apathy and indifference towards politics. Majority of those who indeed show interest does it for personal gains or to pessimistically ridicule the developments. Politics is something which everyone must know. Irrespective of a person studying science or arts or economics, he must know politics and its implications. He must have a political ideology of his own. He must be able see through the political developments and actively participate in it. Hopefully we will realize this before it is too late.

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2 thoughts on “Introspection by a young Indian

  1. Can you elaborate on the statement “Anything which makes us understand our universe better is progress” ? I dont disagree that scientific progress is quintessential, but could not comprehend your reasoning behind that particular statement.

    1. Anything that makes us understand our universe better is progress here are some examples:
      1. We know structure of atom: progress because we can explain lot of chemical reactions and create more of them
      2. We know structure of nucleus: progress because we can have atomic energy
      3. We know the hight of stratosphere: progress because we can use it for communication
      4. we know light is EM in nature during propagation: progress because now we can generate them and use them to carry information

      I can go on and on but in short if we understand our universe better we can progress a lot technologically. But I have an even bigger picture in mind, it gives us intellectual satisfaction. For me ultimate goal of entire human community is to know completely about universe. Thus anything in that direction I consider it as progress.

      And let me explain the reason behind saying that line in my article through another example

      Initially we didn’t know the shape of our earth. People thought it’s flat and if you go far enough sailing you will ultimately end up falling in some sort of a water fall. So people didn’t venture far enough and hence couldn’t find other continents. Then Ferdinand Magellan was brave enough(or arguably knew that earth is round) to sail far to circumnavigate earth. But say our science was well developed before Magellan to show that earth is round(and convince people thoroughly with proof) then we would have found new lands earlier thus having better connect with more people, sharing more ideas, exchanging and learning from other’s culture and tradition, would have made better economic and cultural progresses. In short ‘yesterday’ we would have lived today’s life and ‘today’ we would be living like ‘tomorrow’(figuratively) because we would have understood better about our universe(earth is part of it) earlier hence giving boost to all other forms of progress.

      PS: Say an Indian had achieved a conclusive proof of round nature of earth and an another Indian had went ahead and found America(based on the assurance given by the first Indian that earth is round) then can you imagine how you would have felt in front of foreigners? (You are Anon but today all the views are from India so I’m guessing you are an Indian 🙂 )

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