India and Modern Science

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To start with it should be mentioned
that India’s history of science and technology
has special features such as:
1. India belongs to one of the oldest
civilized cultures with a long tradition in
science and technology. Her history of
science can be studied in a different context
compared to that of other modern
2. For a long time, India was under the
influence of foreign cultures. The history
of Indian science and technology is the
history of transfer of technical knowledge
and education.
3. Indian history is (was) the history
of the so-called Third World countries.
Within a short span of time India has become
a nuclear power and leading figure
in information technology. Why and how
did Indian men of science achieve this?
The study of such issues could be a good
lesson for other Asian and African countries.
4. If we limit our focus on physics and
chemistry only, in the 20th century the
role of Indian men of science was not
minor. In terms of one of the highest
honours, namely the Nobel Prize, in the
first half of the 20th century the achievements
of Indian scientists were far better
than those from that Latin America, Africa
and most of the Asian countries3.
There is no doubt that we need the
subject as it deals with the heritage,
glory and defeats of the past. The new
generations can learn from the past successes
and defeats. A popular proverb is:
‘Through past we see future’. Not only
politics, but also science and technology
are a part of a culture. In the beginning of
the 20th century, different authors wrote
on the topic. One example to be quoted is
that of the Indian chemist P. C. Ray’s
‘History of Hindu chemistry’ published
in 1902 (reprinted by the Indian Chemical
Society, Calcutta, 1956) in History of
Chemistry in Ancient and Medieval
India. The less known fact is that Ray
was the first Indian to be elected as
member of the famous journal Isis
(USA), which deals with the history of
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