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

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Honours and Numbers

Honours and Numbers

C N R Rao's repeated complaint that the problem with Indian science is the success of computing and information technology has no justifi cation. Computer science in India receives little funding from the government and the IT industry is the country's only example of technological success. What is needed is the reform of India's ossified scientific establishment, transfer of funds from underperforming departments like atomic energy to other scientifi c departments, creation of more opportunities for academic circulation across India and ensuring that heads of institutions and departments rotate at regular intervals.

In the course of 24 years (a long period for any sportsperson) one of India’s most recent recipients of the Bharat Ratna, Sachin Tendulkar, played in 200 test matches and scored 51 centuries, more than anyone else in cricketing history. As if to provide comparative data, newspapers reported that the other recent Bharat Ratna, C N R Rao has so far published over 1,400 papers and 45 books in a career that spans more than 50 years.1

Sports achievements such as those of Tendulkar are very specific and contextual: each century was scored against a particular team in a particular match. Comparison of one century with another (by him or anyone else) may be fascinating but it is also very subjective: everything from the weather and the state of the pitch (among many other factors) must be given as much importance as the composition of the opposition. By comparison, a scientific discovery must be repeatable by others; a paper describing it is then timeless and the results remain scientific facts for all time (or until disproved by a new discovery or theory). To ensure that the claims and results are valid, each paper is subjected to an important test before acceptance by a journal or conference: it must pass what should be rigorous and anonymous refereeing by a few selected peers in the field, from across the world.

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