The world snapped to attention two months ago when India announced the successful test of its long-range missile, Agni V
The BBC declared India had joined the “elite nuclear club
.” It was a major historic moment that was telling of India’s technological prowess. But for those aware of advancements made by Indian science, Agni V was not totally out of the blue. India has been making innovations in the fields of space research, nuclear power and neglected diseases.
Indian science has consistently had major political backing. This was apparent earlier this month when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh became president of a professional science body. He announced plans to formulate a new science and technology policy
at his inauguration ceremony at the 100th session of the Indian Science Congress Association.
“The journey of our development is marked by glittering scientific achievements whether in the field of atomic energy, space, agriculture or information technology,” he said at the ceremony.
“The burden on science in the future will only increase. Our problems are overwhelming and need scientific solutions.”
This fervent belief in and respect for science and the push to reap its societal benefits has always been part and parcel of the Indian psyche. It is one of the topics explored in “Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking Over the World,” (out now in the United States
) by British science journalist Angela Saini
To understand the Indian people’s scientific devotion and ingenuity, Saini traveled across the country in 2009 to meet with inventors, engineers and young scientists. She focused not just on India’s scientific discoveries and research but also on how science is interacting socially.
“It really opened my mind about how science can be done,” Saini said. “I don’t mean at the lab level … kind of the social uses, how it’s applied to improve society, the way politicians back it up, the way religion tries to use it, the way traditionalists try to use it (and) how it seems to be the property of everybody. Everyone wants a piece of it, wants to be a part of it.”