Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay had implemented the British system of education so that future generations do not feel any pride in their tradition, culture and history. Gradually, with the end of Sanskrit schools, English schools became compulsory. In the curriculum that was decided for these schools, no mention of any contribution by India in any field, especially in the field of science, was allowed in the textbooks. As a result, in the course of time, the degree-holders that graduated from these schools were bereft of any information of India'scontributions. This was their colonial agenda; therefore, the British tried to cut education from our roots. Yet, it was believed that after Independence, India'straditional contribution would be included in the education in order to arouse self-confidence. However, unfortunately, even after Independence, the same curriculum continued, which showed Europe as the main contributor to scientific tradition. As a result, ancient India'sdiscoveries, works and results could not become a part of education, which has been continuing for the past 170 years. Studying this curriculum, which is disconnected from Indianness, has had an ill-effect on the Indian psyche. It was believed that any contribution in the world from the point of view of development has been given by Europe. Therefore, a feeling of pride that we also have contributed something, is missing and has been replaced by one of an imitator and a slave-like mentality.
The Consequences of Oblivion
In order to realise the absence of self-confidence about ourselves, two experiences of the present President and renowned scientist, Dr. Abdul Kalam will be helpful. There is a dream of a self-reliant and developed India in his eyes. This he has expressed in his book India Two Thousand Twenty: A Vision for the New Millennium. In this book, while the path to a developed India has been laid down, he has also mentioned the biggest hurdle in this path, through two of his experiences.
On the first incident, he writes, ?There is a multicoloured calendar hanging in my room. This beautiful calendar has been printed in Germany and it has pictures of Europe and Africa taken by satellites. Whoever sees these pictures gets very inspired. However, when the person is told that these pictures have been taken by an Indian Telesensing Satellite, his face shows disbelief and it doesn'tquieten down till he reads the credit given at the bottom of the calendar to the Indian satellite for the pictures.?
About the second incident he writes, ?Once I was invited to a dinner where there were many scientists from abroad as well as many important people from India. Discussions moved gradually to rocket technology. Someone said that the Chinese had discovered explosives thousands of years ago. It was later, in the 13th century that with the help of this gunpowder, fire arrows began to be used in wars. Participating in this discussion, I enumerated one of my experiences, when I had gone to England sometime ago to a place called Woolich near London, which has a museum called Rotunda. In this museum, I saw the rockets used by Tipu'sarmies in the battle with the British in Sri Rangapatnam and these were the first rockets in the world to be used in a battle. On my saying this, one prominent Indian immediately retorted that the technology for this had been provided to Tipu by the French. At this, I very humbly told him that he was not saying the correct thing. I told him that I would give him the proof. After sometime, I told him about the book called The Origins and International Economics of Spaces Exploration, written by Sir Bernard Lowell, in which he says that William Congrave had studied the rockets used by Tipu'sarmy, made some improvements and in 1805 presented them before the then British Prime Minister, William Pitt and Secretary of Law, Kraiser Leed. They were impressed and consented to include them in the army and used them in 1806 in the battle with Napoleon near the Boulogne harbour and in 1807 in the attack on Copenhagen. After reading the underlined portions in the book with great concentration, this prominent personality said that it was interesting. He found it interesting, but there was no feeling of pride towards this great Indian discovery. Unfortunately, we have forgotten some of the best creative people of our country. The Britishers keep all the information about Congrave, but we know nothing about the great engineers who designed the rockets for Tipu'sarmy. The reason for this is the foreign influence and feeling of inferiority that the intelligent people of our country suffer from, and this is the greatest hurdle for the country.?
Owing to the above mentioned defeatist psyche, we are not able to inculcate the belief that we have our own traditions of scientific and technological developments. With our brilliance, we can make new inventions and make a place for ourselves amongst the developed countries. In fact, not just this, we can make our own contributions too. As a result, the picture that we have drawn of our country is one that believes that we shall develop only with the help of western technology and wealth. Hence, we are neck deep in debt and look up to the foreign countries for their technology. If we want to change this picture, we shall have to rid ourselves of this inferiority complex. No one can become great by depending on others. In his convocational address at the Science College of Prayag in 1949, Sir C.V. Raman told the students, ?Boys, when we import, we not only pay for our ignorance, but we also pay for our incompetence.? Every single person in the country needs to consider what he had said.
Along with this, the speech of the famous scientist, Acharya P.C. Roy on Hindu Chemistry in Madras in 1918, is worthy of consideration in order to arouse self-respect. In the speech, he had called for pride about the country's contribution. His words were??We are not ashamed of our ancient contributions to the science of chemistry. I am equally proud of and not ashamed of all the branches of science that grew in ancient India.?
In order to change our present psyche, about ourselves, our traditions and our capabilities, we shall have to contemplate on some fundamental aspects.
To begin with, we have a notion that a person from the west is intellectual, logical and a believer in experiments, whereas an Indian considers only books to be the proof, is with blind faith and tends to run away from experiments. But, what is the reality? Let us glance at western and Indian history.
(Ocean Books (P) Ltd., 4/19, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi-110 002.)