ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Scientists and Pokhran: An Untold Story

Nucleus and Nation: Scientists, International Networks, and Power in India by Robert S Anderson (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press), 2010; pp xxvi + 683, $60 (cloth).

Developing a History of Science and Technology in South Asia

The development of a history of science, technology, environment and medicine (HISTEM) in south Asia has not merely to draw on different disciplines, but also has to shape its concerns from unique and divergent regional traditions and histories that prevail in the region. The south Asian techno-scientific tradition has largely been a syncretic one, evolving as a result of socio-politico and cultural interactions through the ages; the colonial experience too played its part. The appeal of HISTEM is therefore wider, it belongs to the mainstream of social and cultural debates in history.

Alice Stewart, MD (1906-2002): A Tribute

In her long life Alice Stewart, who died on June 23, 2002 at the age of 95, was fortunate enough to see radiation science move in her direction with official estimates of radiation risk acknowledging greater danger than previous estimates admitted.

Science and Reason vs Unreason

The recent decision by US president George W Bush to stop federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, apparently on the advice of the Pope, can be seen in the light of the age-old struggle between the idealistic and materialistic approaches to science. The conflict between the two ideologies continues despite the phenomenal growth of science and technology. A study of the 'political' aspect of this struggle can help us unravel its true meaning.

Leadership in Science and Technology

The evolution and development of science and technology institutions in India, involving some of the visionaries and pioneers of scientific development, have thrown up a wide range of experiences. This aricle traces in a historical perspctive the evolution of leadership styles in this area. The study provides some pointers for the development of an effective leadership style. Innovative organisations, such as those in science and technology, require strong personalised leadership. To develop institutions, it is important to place an individual at the centre of institution-building efforts. Leadership actions have to nurture trust, and create interactions within and outside an organisation. Importantly, leadership qualities cannot be acquired 'on the job'. They have to be developed and honed through participation in formal training programmes.

Science, Astrology, and Democratic Society

The proposal of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to start courses in astrology has drawn predictable responses. These have by and large opposed astrology because it is not ‘scientific’, thereby unthinkingly and uncritically valorise ‘science’ as it is practised and taught. Both the content and utility of science, in their arguments, are sacrificed at the altar of method and procedure. Astrology, it is being said, cannot be introduced in universities because they cannot meet the scientific standards of reliability, validity, and falsification among others. At the same time, the larger context in which astrology is located in Indian (read Hindu) society is ignored. This discussion is based on articles in the media, many written by leading scientists, criticising the UGC proposal.

Strategies for a New Era

Securing India’s Future in the New Millennium edited by Brahma Chellaney; Orient Longman; pp 639, Rs 700.

Ancient Indian Medicine and Its Spread to China

Science and technology display the phenomenon of universalisation in their development through the ages. It is achieved through intentional or unintentional transmission of ideas and techniques from one culture area to another. In ancient times it usually was spread over a longer period of time, even a few centuries, unlike present times. One such interesting transmission occurred between India and China during medieval period when Sino-Indian Buddhist contacts were followed by scientific/medical contacts as well. The origin of this transmission is traced to the Buddhist canonical literature in Chinese which sprang up with the introduction of Buddhism into China in the late Han period (AD 25-220). Chinese historical, popular literature as well as medical works then reflected the influence of Indian medicine for over a millennium. Two Chinese works on ophthalmology, which appeared between the 8th and the 12th century AD, were attributed to Nagarjuna indicating inclusion of Indian ophthalmological material into Chinese medicine. These writings exhibit an integration of the two medical systems. The silk route which linked China to India, Arabia and further west was thus a bridge between the eastern and western civilisations, as well as promoting scientific exchanges and mutual cooperation along with exchange of goods.

Sokal's Hoax: A Backlash to Science Criticism

Because of the connection between knowledge and politics, someone urging a view about scientific inquiry may be understood and read as supporting a political analysis, even when that is not her intent. We all care deeply about polities, hence there is more than enough room for misunderstanding and hurt.


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