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

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Reclaiming Science

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The annual sessions of the Indian Science Congress have always showcased the state's current visions of science and technology. And always, they have envisioned science and technology as the harbingers of welfare, even if not prosperity, to the nation. Whether it was to see the relevance of science in terms of increasing the productivity of Indian agriculture, of attaining self-reliance in industrial R and D, enhancing health care provisions, expanding power resources for economic and industrial growth, ensuring basic minimum needs of food, water and shelter, the Science Congress has been a platform for projecting national goals for the utilisation and application of science. Never perhaps has this vision been as narrow, self-serving and as removed from the aspirations of people as it appears to be today. There cannot have been many, other than the scientific elite, who could have related meaningfully to the glorious panorama of armaments-in-the-making presented by the principal scientific adviser to the government of India, A P J Abdul Kalam. With sufficient funding, which is quite likely to come to the project, he said India would go ahead with the building of the light combat aircraft and also announced the operationalisation of three indigenous missiles being readied for tests in the next six months. India, said Kalam, could not only produce an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system comparable with the best in the world, but even develop a full-fledged intercontinental ballistic missile programme provided the enormous investment these required would be made available.

This is the stuff not of dreams but nightmares and emphatically underlines the sea change that has occurred in the trajectory of planned scientific endeavour. There appears to be no need for subtleties any more. A scientifically progressive India is also inevitably an India armed to the teeth with murderous weapons. Technological superiority, which according to Kalam will be the prime motivator for economic warfare, is to be measured only in terms of the country's capability to build modern, state of the art missile systems, lunar probes and nuclear power stations.

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