Hartosh Singh Bal in The Caravan: Why the Indian Scientific Community is to Blame for the Lack of Science at the 102nd Indian Science Congress.
A copy of the proceedings that would include Bodas’ draft will only serve to confirm what the Islamic scholar Abu'l Raihan al-Biruni, writing almost a thousand years ago, had said about the state of Indian scientific knowledge: “I can only compare their mathematical and astronomical literature, as far as I know it, to a mixture of pearl shells and sour dates, or of pearls and dung, or of costly crystals and common pebbles. Both kinds of things are equal in their eyes, since they cannot raise themselves to the methods of a strictly scientific deduction.”
But even these harsh words would constitute a charitable view. The reason the proceedings may still end up carrying Yonath and Ashtekar’s pearls along with Hindutva’s dung is not because our scientists cannot distinguish between them, but because they choose to look away in the face of a new political dispensation.
At one point, Bal refers to the Indian Science Congress as "India's premier scientific gathering." It looks like he hasn't got the memo that the ISC turned into some kind of a sad joke quite a while ago -- most Indian scientists avoid going to it if they can. In case they do go there, it's more likely because of an invitation from some hapless friend who got saddled with the responsibility of organizing a session on something or the other.
In any event, we now have some info on how the session on "Ancient Science through Sanskrit" got into the program, and how the organizers vetted the "contributions":
Organisers defend session Organisers said the idea to conduct a session on ancient sciences emerged following a meeting of various university vice-chancellors with the Governor of Maharashtra. It was the vice-chancellor of Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University in Nagpur, Uma Vaidya, who proposed the idea for such a session, said S B Nimse, chairman of the 102nd Indian Science Congress. Nimse said the sessions had been decided by a committee he headed and which had seven members, including TIFR Director Mustansir Barma, IIT Bombay Director Devang Khakhar, scientist Anil Kakodkar, Professor Kothari and two local secretaries. He too agreed that the controversy had “impacted other sessions”.
Associate prof and head of Sanskrit department at Mumbai University, Gauri Mahulikar, who gave an overview on ancient Indian sciences through Sanskrit at the Science Congress, said that between August to December this year, there were several meetings between Vaidya and Sanskrit department of Mumbai University. “In one of the meetings, which included Vaidya, myself and teachers from Mumbai University’s Sanskrit department, it was decided to have such a topic at the Indian Science Congress. Thereafter, we called for papers and received five abstracts or presentations, which were jointly reviewed by Vaidya, myself and our teachers,” said Mahulikar.
It also turns out that neither the author of the Vedic aeronautics paper nor the organizer of that session is keen to part with the paper:
When asked the reasons for not sharing a public presentation, Gauri Mahulikar, co-host of the event, associate professor and Head of Sanskrit Department, Mumbai University, said, "There are copyright issues. We fear that others who have nothing to do with this research, will claim it as their finding," she said. She said that a few students of Sanskrit had already taken some papers from them, and claimed to be their own works.
Thursday, January 08, 2015
Links: Vedic Aviation Edition
Posted by Abi. Posted at 9:41 PM