The history of modern science in India has too often been written about as a nationalist tale; sometimes heroic, sometimes not, with the scientist working with and within the massive energies released by the moment of India’s independence in 1947.
Science & Technology
Since India and Pakistan claimed formal nuclear status in 1998, a debate has revived among nuclear optimists and pessimists on the consequences of nuclear proliferation. The original Sagan-Waltz debate has been followed up by Ganguly on the one hand, who optimistically argues that South Asia is stable, and Kapur on the other, who pessimistically maintains that there remain serious grounds for instability.
The satellite television “revolution” of the mid 1990s has dramatically transformed the landscape of media in India. The entry of multinational media companies, as well as a spurt in the number of English and regional language television channels with various patterns of indigenous ownership, have unleashed a new “visual regime.” Indian Readership Surveys show a consistent increase in the number of newspaper readers and other media audiences. Industry estimates paint a blistering image of an exploding media sector, with television occupying a pivotal position in such predictions.
In September 2009, while speaking at the inauguration of the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that India could have 470 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2050.
Although nowhere near as high profile or politically dramatic as the 2008 Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, India’s proposed $10 billion procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) may have a much more profound impact on India’s strategic relations, particularly if a U.S. Platform – either Lockheed’s F-16 E/F or Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F – is selected as the winning bid.
In the Medium-range Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) sweepstakes, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is confronted with many choices, all of them bad. Whatever the IAF’s reasons for wanting a new aircraft, the Indian government means to use the deal to make international political capital, gain leverage in bilateral relations, and cement a strategic partnership. The Air Staff Quality Requirements – insofar as these can be deduced – are opaque.
Since 1947, when independence was achieved, India has been one of the few developing countries to invest extensively in both Science and Technical education. The results, though impressive in terms of quantity, have a mixed track record in terms of quality. As a result, specific initiatives to close this gap between India and the developed world in terms of quality are now needed.
Much has been said about the fallacies in India’s energy policy-a lack of coherent planning, endemic ills of cross-subsidies, inefficiencies of state-owned companies, and so on-to argue the impossibility of India’s ability to meet the energy demands of a growing economy. Although true in past, this argument is weakening. Amidst excessive criticism of every single government action, the real, but subtle, face of Indian energy policy has not attracted mass attention yet. And understandably so:
On September 7, 2001, India’s then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced a national policy with the vision of “shaping biotechnology into a premier precision tool of the future for creation of wealth and ensuring social justice – especially for the welfare of the poor.” Biotechnology, in the aims of the policy, was to combat obdurate diseases and nutritional deficiencies, increase agricultural production, and protect the environment. Scientifically, these are all plausible – though distal and aspirational – claims.