Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What's wrong with Indian Science?

A very valid question - answer to which is hard to fathom or get from someone as easily and with clarity that one would like to. We all agree to the general mote learning methodology that the very strict examination system encourages as being one of the culprits. I just read an interview of Richard Jefferson in which he comments on Indian science. I share here a slice of that interview.
And what of Indian science in particular? The biggest problem, he says surprisingly, “is its absolutism, its dogmatism, its tribalism and its inability to engage in the truly empowering part of science: to be wrong. Science does not proceed by proving things right. Science proceeds by allowing things to be proved wrong.”

This is a rare candid view and I ask Jefferson to explain what he means. “Very little of the Indian science I wrestled with over the last two decades would allow itself to be wrong, and would more rarely celebrate it! It’s about dogmatism, turf wars, guild membership and hierarchies. Much of the early work in rice transgenesis was by labs that insisted they were right. And of course that pretty much guaranteed that they wouldn’t be,” he says.
 That is a problem that exists and I have to agree to it completely. Maybe it has something to do with our upbringing as a child, as well as, as a student. We are always advised to play safe and were sure to  be punished for any mistake we committed. During an exam or during a discussion with the teachers you dare not make a mistake. An atmosphere that I completely loathed all my student life. I hope with more appreciation for mistakes the new generation do not have to undergo the major pains of my student life.

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