The Scientific Edge and its conspicuous absence in India

I am almost done reading the book “The Scientific Edge: The Indian Scientist from Vedic to Modern Times” by renowned scientist Jayant Narlikar. I have had this book for an year or so but for some reason I didn’t quite get to reading it.

Perhaps, because I expected to read the usual glorification of India’s past and chapters about how ancient Indians were brilliant at a, b,c… without stating the requisite supporting scientific evidence. That’s how it’s usually done in India.

But then that would have been boring because that’s the crutch that Indians routinely lean on, to somehow feel at par with the developed nations.

The problem with this approach is that we do not feel ashamed of still being so far away from being driven by science. Tradition and religion still determine a majority of things in the life on an Indian.

However Dr. Narlikar takes a refreshingly scientific approach to the subject. He does highlight ancient Indian science that has solid proof behind it, but he debunks all claims that are based on hearsay. Stories like “Lord Ram could fly in a craft in the epic Ramayana, which proves ancient India had knowledge about building flying machines.”

He also delves on modern-day fads like “Vastu Shastra” and age old ones like astrology. I had no idea that even the claim to “Vedic Mathematics” was so hollow.

The book told me a lot of things about Indian science and astronomy, but the most important learning I have taken is to publicly voice my opinion against superstitions and in favor of the scientific approach. I have always privately aired my views against things like astrology, vastu shastra, zodiac signs, etc., but I now intend to be more vocal about it.