By Rajan Suri

With a long history of highs and lows in science in India, the country is beginning to join the leaders of science in the world. Gaining orders to launch 68 foreign satellites with the ambition of gaining further for many hundreds in the future, puts India among the leaders. But India is still lagging in original ideas. It is an area that the Government and leadings scientists should pay attention to.

Unlike many other civilisations in the world, India’s civilisation has never been inimical to science. The Vedas have scientific concepts such as the earth going around the sun. Numbers were known to Indians long before anywhere else. Pythagoras triples were known at least as long as 8th century BC.  The Vedanga Jyotisa is a great book of early astronomy.

Kautalya’s  Arthashastra mentions bridges, dams and road works among other great projects. Earlier works include texts in metallurgy  and architecture. The Sushruta Samhita, the earliest book of systematic science of medicine goes as back as 6th century BC. There are endless examples of Indian civilisation once being a leader in science, medicine and mathematics. It will take books to list some of the great developments of early Indian science and its place in the evolution of science in the world.

Unlike Christian Europe and Islamic Middle East, science has never faced ridicule let alone censor in Indian dharmic traditions. It has coexisted and even integrated well in the dharmic tradition.

But somewhere along history, the people of South Asia lost the instinct for science and the ability to be original. It is common to blame this on colonial rule and to some extent Islamic rule. But that cannot be the entire story. It is true that Indian centres of learning  were not only subdued but even driven to extinction during colonial rule. Colonialism tried to claim all scientific knowledge as the gift of European civilisation. Most colonising Empires try and do that.

But today, there are no such constraints. Indians have proven themselves very capable to being great scientists. They become even greater scientists in leading western institutions of science. But in India, there is still that gaping hole of originality. Once India was creating the ideas of science. Now it lags behind.

It is not enough to blame India being only 70 years old. It is also not enough to blame lack of facilities. Both are lame excuses now. India is not 70 year old. It is thousands of years old. It was merely ruled at times by non Indians. And as for facilities, the country is rich enough to create the facilities. In fact there are plenty of advanced scientific and medical research facilities in India.

The reason lies elsewhere. The question to ask  is why were Indians so fertile in imagination and originality 2000 and 3000 years ago but now. There is no cultural or religious antagonism to science in Indian traditions. So what has gone wrong.

The contract for launching of 68 foreign satellites shows tremendous conviction in Indian science  around the world. Even countries as advanced as USA and UK are among those that have placed launch contracts and development contracts with Antrix, the commercial arm of the Indian space agency.

In the last 15 years Antrix has launched 74 foreign satellites. These have included Belgium, Canada, France, Germany and even Israel. They have used India’s advanced Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSV). It is hoping to launch some 2500 satellites in the next decade for countries and private companies. This will include nano satellites and satellites for surveillance and navigation.

Even in the nuclear technology, India is the leader in thorium based research in nuclear energy production. It can export nuclear power reactors.

Indian science is now advanced in every field of science. But India is still not the a trail blazer or originator of ideas. This is an area that the Government needs to put resources in. China on the other hand has invested large resources in science and is leading the world in some areas of science now. India can leave China and even USA behind. History is evidence of the great achievements of Indian science.

Arhan Bagati -This 16-year-old student makes an App for sportspersons attending Rio Paralympics

By Gorky Bakshi

Rio 2016 Paralympics that are scheduled from September 7 to 18 will have 18 Indian contingents and everyone is hoping to see an exceptional performance by the sportspersons. While most of us expect great performance, but not many can think of an App helping them. But, Arhan Bagati,  a 16-year-old athlete from Gurugram, thought of an innovative idea as he developed a wonderful mobile app to assist the Indian contingent in the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The App intends to give technical assistance to the players.
Till date, there was no such technical assistance available for our Para-athletes, while participants from other countries enjoyed these facilities. The app, called ‘InRio’, is loaded with useful information to help participants in moving around easily, get contact details, and much more. This App was recently unveiled by the Delhi lieutenant governor Najee Jung as he highlighted its utility for the Rio Paralympics.

Arhan Bagati History

He is a student of class 12, in a private school in Gurugram. Being an expert in technology, at such a young age, he has been trying to help people with disabilities through technology in his area. Arhan wanted to be a runner himself, but of his commitment to academic curriculum could not focus much on sports.
He has been in talks with the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) for the past few years, and has been speaking with athletes to understand their problems and needs better. He has recently appointed the Awareness and Impact Ambassador by the PCI to promote the Games.
“My father is a businessman; he helped me a lot to nurture my talent. I convinced my father to fund the expenses of one of the participants this year.” Tapesh Bagati, Arhan’s father will fund one of the Indian para-athletes, this year.
“I started to work with the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI), which needed someone to make an audio-visual. I decided to take up the project,” Arhan explained.

Benefits of the App:

•  Emergency contact details of the Indian embassy.
• Route maps to nearest disabled-friendly kiosks.
• Option to send SOS messages to specific numbers.
• In-built health monitor in which athletes will have to feed in some parameters and they will be able to check their performances.
• Food advice for the athletes.
• Profiles and details of fellow Paralympians for smooth communication.
• Information on restaurants and places to visit.
• List of Disabled-friendly gyms around the present location.
• Language translator.
The app will be updated every four years depending upon the location of a sporting event.  Arhan may visit Rio along with the sports person, to lend his support and help them use the App.  Mr Najeeb Jung and Union Minister of State (IC) for Sports & Youth Affairs, Sarbananda Sonowal were appreciative of the initiative by the young boy.