Friday, August 10, 2007

Is Indian science overwhelmingly "kshatriya"?

Carl von Clausewitz once declared famously that war was an extension of politics by other means. This letter in Current Science questions whether science now has become an extension of war by other means. While the letter doesn't say much, it does provide an interesting table with the soldier-scientist ratio in various countries. Japan tops the list with 2.85 scientists for each soldier and Israel is at the bottom with 0.06 scientist for every soldier. India has 0.13 scientist for each jawan.
Military muscle? Yes. But is it true scientific muscle?
Many have criticised Indian science's "kshatriya" bent, implying how defence research tops other prerogatives. That is true to an extent, I think. Some of India's most celebrated scientists are weapons/missile experts. To name two - APJ Abdul Kalam, former president, and R Chidambaram, the current principal scientific advisr to the government of India. Kalam is hailed as a scientific idol but he doesn't even have a formal PhD. We can't even claim a living Indian to be a world-beating scientist but for the probable exception of Ashoke Sen.


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