Emergence of the wheel and fire, both of which are so ubiquitous that hardly anyone spares time to think or talk about them have their origins in times of an undetermined date in the distant past, given the accepted feature that humans have made planet earth their home for over nearly two lakh years. The insatiable desire of humans to make life comfortable by perceiving and meeting the needs as well as enjoying life’s luxuries over centuries leading to countless technologies and landmark advances in science may have prompted some thinker to spell the idiom Necessity is the mother of invention. We have reached a stage in which the line demarcating necessities and luxuries has virtually disappeared. The two never-to-be-missed products of science-technology combo namely (a) Mobile phone (with its current avatar smart phone) and (b) Television (with its presence in residences of people cutting across the entire cross section of society) may suffice to justify the above remark of luxuries of yesterday morphing into necessities of today.
Clarion calls continue to be heard from various platforms asking the country’s youth in particular to cultivate scientific temper while India is touted to be among the top few countries hosting University graduates in Science subjects. The land’s people, on the other hand, are greeting products of advancing technologies, mostly from other parts of the globe, with disdain, keeping their tryst with technology without a care and the consequences are beyond words.
Being awarded the Nobel Prize in the two branches of Science as well as Medicine is accepted as the benchmark of excellence for any awardee and the respective country. India has had only one home grown Nobel Laureate while other two or three awardees of Indian origin have earned credit for their adopted country but not their motherland as it were. As a renowned Science writer, a highly rated scientist himself, has observed, while 80 countries across three continents gained freedom from the rule of different colonialists, “India was the lone nation that made friends with Science as a policy for the country’s development. While the lay sections of the land’s population cannot be expected to notice the connect between scientific pursuits and nation’s development, the cognoscenti can testify to the beneficial spoils of Science in many fields such as agriculture, industry and healthcare, not to forget the area of communication aided by inputs from space exploration.
Having acknowledged the gains of advances in Science and Technology made possible by the leading lights of the past near era, one is obliged not to forget the often heard lament of declining quality of University education. In that context, one cannot be faulted to suggest the earlier the academic sector is freed from the influence of elected representatives of people, the better.