Evolution, Science & Education in India

I have always admired how Indians seemed to have accepted and understood evolution better than most developed nations. I used to attribute it to Indian belief systems being more flexible and not as bound by scriptures.

But then the country’s education minister said this yesterday… “Nobody, including our ancestors, have said or written that they ever saw an ape turning into a human being.” and later called for removal of evolution theory from textbooks! #FacePalm

So thought of penning this quick note.  Hope to soon enhance this piece or write a new detailed piece based on my understanding of evolution. Continue reading “Evolution, Science & Education in India”

Learning From History – At Peace With History (The Sceptical Patriot)

Just finished reading “The Sceptical Patriot”, a book that examines the veracity of popular “India Facts” like Invented the zero, Sanskrit is the best language for computers, India never invaded another country, India was once the most prosperous nation, Plastic surgery was developed in India … The author deals with several such “facts” that gets bandied over email, facebook, dinner conversations and more. He deals with them in a layman-friendly and mildly-funny text of 200 odd pages.

The aim of the book and also this post is not to mock, belittle or ignore India’s past achievements but to take a realistic view based on the evidence available. Continue reading “Learning From History – At Peace With History (The Sceptical Patriot)”

Astrology vs Science & Reason | Which side are you on?

A few months back came the shocking news of the Palkar family suicide in Pune, where Arun Palkar(40), a well off electrical contractor consumed sleeping pills along with his wife (37) and children aged 11 & 6. He did so because he believed that Shani (Saturn) and Mangal (Mars) were so unfavourably placed in his horoscope that irrespective of what he did, he & his family would never be happy. It is likely that he even planned the suicide so as to rescue his family from present & future suffering. Continue reading “Astrology vs Science & Reason | Which side are you on?”

What Is Scientific Temper? What is the Scientific Method?

Article 51A(h) of the Indian constitution says: “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform“. 

However the reality on the ground is that despite rising prosperity and literacy rates, there are no signs of Indians adopting a scientific temper. Orthodoxy, superstitions & pseudo sciences continue to be an integral part of an Indian’s life.

Science is mugged up during exams, and technology is used to earn a living and ease everyday living. However we are a long way from embracing science and adopting the scientific way of logic, reason, critical examination and evidence-based beliefs.

In this talk, I look at a) What is Scientific Temper b) The evolution of the idea of Scientific Temper c) How does one adopt a scientific temper? d) What is the scientific method of Observation, Hypothesis, Prediction and Experimentation e) How we can nurture young analytical minds and pull India out of the quagmire of superstitions and towards a scientific approach to life.

The talk “Scientific Temper : The Forgotten Duty” was delivered at the Takshashila Shala conference held on 29th May 2011 in Pune, India.

Related:

Our constitution says that “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. However the fact on the ground is that even with rising literacy rates, there are no signs of Indians adopting scientific temperament as a way of life.  India actually seems to be heading the other way, with orthodoxy, superstitions & psuedo sciences becoming an integral part of an Indian’s life.

In this talk, I will look at what scientific temper entails, what’s gone wrong & why there’s still hope that we can nurture analytical minds and pull India out of the quagmire of superstitions.

Interview About Java at JavaOne India, 2011

Embedded below is a video of a short interview I did with the Oracle Asia Pacific team at JavaOne India, which was held in Hyderabad in May 2011. I answered questions on Java today, Java Enterprise & Java for Cloud Computing.

I also presented a session “An independent, ‘ear to the ground’ report on Java” at the same conference. I will soon be posting an article based on that presentation at IndicThreads.com.

Continue reading “Interview About Java at JavaOne India, 2011”

Lavasa City – Scam Or Development?

I attended an event titled the “Lavasa Mahaghotala Sabha” or the “Lavasa Scam Meet” on 27 Nov 2010. This event was meant to launch a widespread protest against the Lavasa project. The speakers at the meet were prominent social activists Medha Patkar, Anna Hazare & many others linked to the protest. I have live tweeted at length at http://twitter.com/harshadoak (tweets reproduced at end of article) about who said what at the meet. Thought it would make more sense to go beyond the tweets & blog my take on Lavasa.  Continue reading “Lavasa City – Scam Or Development?”

Vasant Vyakhanmala (Spring-time Lecture Series), Pune, India – Since 1875!!!

Vasant Vyakhanmala (Spring time Lecture series) is a most remarkable undertaking. It’s an annual event that was first held in 1875 in Pune by social reformer Justice Ranade and is being held every year since. Many of India’s top leaders & visionaries have spoken at the event and I am told that it was especially popular in the pre-independence era, with 1000s attending the lectures. Continue reading “Vasant Vyakhanmala (Spring-time Lecture Series), Pune, India – Since 1875!!!”