Cabinet ministers for Science , Education and Climate are introduced by a science communicator in this article on NDTV. Please read.
Dream Cabinet may Shore up Indian Science.
I am going to part fisk, part think aloud and generally try not to cringe at wasting time typing a post that I am going to tag as Blah!
First sentence of article:
Science it seems has finally come of age in India.
Sorry Sir, Indian science is yet to be born.
If anyone wants to jump at me with the ‘zero’ yes, I am wrong, birthed yes, did it continue growing to the stage of ‘coming of age’? Maybe, I missed it (along with the rest of the world).
For, I am talking of Science as a discipline that arises from unbiased observation of the physical world (living and non-living) to form new theories, confirm known or demolish existing theories.
Back to the article: We are to gather that a dream team has been put together. Because.
Prithviraj Chavan (63),
a) A mechanical engineer from University of California, Berkeley,
b) Who spent his early years making electronic components for listening in on enemy submarines in America, was appointed as the new Science Minister.
c) A heavyweight politician from Western India who on assuming office said, “My first love is science and technology.” Chavan will certainly have a heavy workload as he now has to handle as many as five different ministries.
This sounds a lot like my 8 year old’s idea of the world “my Lego submarine can listen to aliens planning an attack from Andromeda. I so love my science kit with the magnifying glass, the best.”
Me: Totally excited for my country –like dreaming! Son and country might grow up together and do stuff like ask WHY this or that. Search for truth. Seek and find answers –heavy workload indeed!!
Back to article:
Chavan for the time becomes a single point person for almost all Indian scientific departments as he is also a member of the secretive cash rich Atomic Energy Commission; and the Space Commission — the highest policy making bodies for these strategic departments.
What is this? Somebody tell me, ok, OK, I get it,
Secretive cash rich + 2 strategic departments = single point person = all scientific departments hence perfect to oversee science for a nation of a billion people. No, sorry, I thought I got it.
What are we to gather here? Since the Atomic and Space commissions are secretive, are cash rich policy making bodies of these two departments (atomic and space?) a minister member automatically becomes a single point person for ALL Indian scientific departments?
With sincere ignorance I want to know how this happens.
Before that, what is a single point person?
I am progressively feeling very very ignorant as I continue reading the article. Please stay with me.
Earlier, when the world’s largest democracy, which voted through a robust gift of Indian science — the Electronic Voting Machine — gave an economist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh another five year term in office.
I am looking up the inventors list for Indian names to come up against the EVM’s. And nothing so far, will keep trying; BEL comes up for manufacturing these. Again, it must be me, and my idiotic ideas, about science and manufacturing.
Widely regarded as one of the ‘best science minister India ever had’, lawyer-turned-politician, Kapil Sibal (61), has now been appointed the new Minister for Education with a Cabinet rank, a huge elevation in his profile as the top man at the Human Resources Development Ministry. This is a much coveted portfolio since Singh’s government has gone in for a massive expansion of higher education. Speaking about his responsibilities, Sibal said, “He hoped for a synergy in science and education like never before.
Best science minister ever. Ok, I admit I am out of the loop and catch up on Indian news in patches – What did I miss here? Looks like a lot. A change in science policy? New ways of teaching, thinking and doing science? Reduction in bureaucratic interference? Attacked nepotism – joke guys, no, there is no nepotism in Indian science. That thing about CSIR, being a ‘Council of Sons-in-law and Relatives’, bad joke, started by those who did not make it (did not marry the right person types), those IQ less persons.
Science and education. Inertia to synergy. Tough call. But that this got some print space, I love it. Totally grateful!
Now, I have a lot reading to do on the ‘progress in Indian Science’ under Kapil Sibal.
Next dreamboat will save the Climate. Because.
Jairam Ramesh (55)
a) Who has studied at Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston and completed a MS from Carnegie Melon University in Program Management was appointed as the new environment and forests minister.
b) Making the country’s position on climate change amply clear, he immediately said, “India cannot take on any binding emissions reduction targets.”
c) He also feels that a country which accounts for 16 per cent of the world’s population and accounts for a mere five per cent of the emissions, could not be expected to stop its rapid economic growth and development.
d) Incidentally, Ramesh, a power minister in the last administration, had emphasised that clean coal, hydel and nuclear will be the mainstay for energising India.
I posses all of the above points.
I too have fancy degrees (a),
Am quick to make claims (b),
And feel (c),
And emphasize (d) on many issues,
So, I should be on the dream team, right? (But I am not a crorepathi, bummer!)
The rest of article is a series of quotes of back patting, yes, we do want people to have faith and express confidence in the cabinet members capacity. The operative word being ‘people’. We would like to know what the agriculture scientists, farmers, doctors, engineers, people in the industry, teachers, homemakers, parents and children expect of our science minister.
The science communicator of this piece cannot go around asking all these people for an article, right? So, he has decided to ask a few professional scientists their opinion. 3 to be precise. A chemist, biophysicist and a structural biologist. For people who think these three represent different branches of science that spin off theories that can span the width and berth of science -they all study/died molecules. No, I am not of the view a molecular vision cannot visualize and encompass the nations needs. Their opinion counts. And their opinions are: -
Breaking vertical barriers and silos -Mr Vijyan
Tripling of scientific base -Mr Ramasami
We have to deliver now. -Mr Samir
Check out the number of mallus and bongs who were part of Mr Vijyan and Samir Bhattacharya’s groups respectively. Also check out how many of them went on to find positions. You will get an idea of what vertical barriers mean.
Check out the recent mega attempt to scuttle affirmative action in centres for excellence and you will get an idea of what tripling the scientific base means.
Check out Wikipedia to see contribution of modern Indian science and technology to get an idea of what it has delivered so far. Plenty of departments. And an invention list that stopped sometime in 1950’s.
Yes Sirs. Keep delivering your packs of lies. Now and forever.
Style of science reporting:
Picks two lines from CV’s. Pick pathetic quotes from each. Supporting evidence -add more pathetic quotes from guys who are already holding top government positions. Then claim it as a dream team.
Science: Means questioning, after observing a pattern.
Science journalism: Means you question the questioning, are these guys framing the right questions? Are they capable of guiding the process of finding answers?
Don’t parrot what they muttered to you. Let the public decide if they were a dream team –post performance .
This article attempts to convey that big names are the perfect guys my country trusts to keep the nations Science focused on remaining top notch, that is, no slacking in the generation of new Scientific ideas and theories, of working hard to keep the brains continually examining and falsifying theories by rigorous method. It implies that we are almost on top of the game.
We practice good science. We said it. We mean it. So it is true. We don’t need to prove it. Especially, to the rest of the world. We are the world.
These sounds like assumptions to you?
You want data to verify that this is so?
You dare to ask?
Are you non-believer or what?
You want to question our belief?
What do you think this is some theory that you want to confirm and prove wrong?
You think this is science ?
(No, STOP right there, don’t open a new tab, to check out Nobles website, Nature, Cell or Science journals or any of those stupid parameters of scientific performance. Don’t even think about connecting rampant malnourishment, dying crops, non-existent hygiene, importing of the simplest of vaccines, mountains of garbage, HIV numbers, starvation, none of these have anything to do with science, education or climate) .
Aside to the communicator. If you want internet accessing people atleast to believe what you are dishing out, do a couple of things, go over to wikipedia and update the inventors list, bring it up to date from the 1950’s to 2009. Update the contribution of Indian Science and Technology’s to the world and the nation. Try and edit the story that only details endless expansions and no delivery. Update the progress each of the newly added centres did and let the readers make up his/her mind of how Indian brains working in science and technology have changed the way humans percieve the world. That should effectively stop skeptics like me and the commentator, below. Wikipedia is as reliable as anything else on the web but the future generations are going to be hitting on it for basic information. Imagine giving a school kid the project of finding what Indian science and technology stands for? And the kid finds out that science has basically been dead for a good 4-5 decades now. And if the ministry closes shop, the world will not bat an eyelid.
|Posted by Dr.G.Srinivasan on Jun 02, 2009
||Science progresses not only because of the minister and encouragement given by the government but also the environment created by the scientists themselves.A brain drained India will not be of much use in this scenario.Even if the brain drain were to be reversed the circumstances prevalent will not allow good science to be done. This is from personal experience– I am a neuropeptide chemist trained from Karolinska and I had to forget this and bank on my basic medical profession for a living . The circumstances were created by jealous people in ICMR, DST, CSIR and all places which had anything to do with science. They are packed with corrupt mediocre people who have no idea of what science is all about . Science is a beautiful tree which can grow only when all the criteria are there. Now we have a gardner . But technology does not mean science .there is a subtle difference
If there is to be a team that dares to dream science for India, it will first question the way we raise our children, the way families answer their questions, the way our schools let them think and way university professors distiguish between original and derivative thought and pave way for our society to open its ancient closed mind.
Then, only then, can we begin to dream of our nation doing science as unbiased observers of the physical and biological world, as seekers of truth and solution finders to some of its problems.
Sad truth: There is nothing in this article that lets me think and hope that such a vision even happens to be on their radar.