Are we a nation of Geeks?
Geek Nation's author Angela Saini talks about how India is emerging as a scientific superpower.
Angela Saini's book, 'Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking Over the World' tracks a remarkable journey through India's scientific institutions from Delhi to Trivandrum, meeting the weird and wonderful characters who are turning India into the next big scientific superpower. Angela who was in Bangalore to launch her book spoke extensively about how India is emerging as an engineering giant but still had a long way to go before contending with the likes of China and Japan. Talking about her book, she says “The book is a result of a six-month journey I made in 2009-10. I visited various cities across India trying to find the ancient roots of Indian science. I witnessed a rocket launch at the Indian Space Research Organization, interviewed scientists and IT giants, visited IITs in a quest to understand where India stands in the field of science today.”
Angela believes that India is a nation of geeks, swots and nerds. As almost one in five of all medical and dental staff in the UK is of Indian origin, and one in six employed scientists with science or engineering doctorates in the US is Asian. But however Angela's concern is that though Indian engineers are hardworking, they are not very creative. “There’s no doubt that people here are very hardworking. But most of them don’t do it purely for the love of science. A lot of other things influence their decision when making a career choice and most of them end up doing something that they don’t really enjoy," Explains Angela, who is an award-winning independent journalist based in London.
She adds, "While I was touring India for my research I was asked to meet a young boy, who everyone told me was a ‘boy-wonder’ and would be the next big thing. But when I met him, he couldn't even explain why he loved science. His parents were however very pushy and were literally putting words in his mouth. It’s quite sad because if there wasn’t so much pressure on him, he would have actually taken up something that would have interested him.”
In her book Angela also explains how ancient science is giving way to new, and how the technology of the wealthy are passing on to the poor. She delves inside the psyche of India's science-hungry citizens, she explores the reason why the government of the most religious country on earth has put its faith in science and technology. Through witty first-hand reportage and penetrative analysis, Geek Nation explains what this means for the rest of the world, and how a spiritual nation squares its soul with hard rationality.
Angela says, “Rajasthan has a e-governance programme, where women run the local computer kiosks and that’s a great way of empowering women. In India, scientists don’t patent their innovations, they want it to be free for all and it encourages out-of-the-box thinking which is a great way forward. But what’s really holding us back is the religious and superstitious beliefs. Only if we break away from these shackles we can truly lead in the world of science.” As for the future Angela hopes that India's commitment towards pure science doesn't diminish and more engineers take it up for the love of it and nothing else. Geek Nation is full of curious, colourful characters and gripping stories, it describes India through its people - a nation of geeks.
Book: GEEK NATION - How Indian Science Is Taking Over The World
Author: Angela Saini
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: Rs 499