In yesterdays post on science and famous scientists, I had asked people to guess one famous Indian scientist’s name. In the comments so far, Praveen guessed Raja Ramanna. Nothing funny about that candidate. Sorry but no cigar. Sameer correctly guessed APJ Kalam but hedged his answer by adding Vikram Sarabhai. The latter would not have been so outlandish an example of famous scientists. Uday said it was very sad. Don’t know if he meant the choice of APJ Kalam or the books in general. Navin guessed APJ Kalam.
Sychophancy runs deep and broad in Indian society. Part of the feudal system. Even so called “educators” in the public sector are past-masters in brown-nosing. Indeed, when the government gets in the business of writing textbooks, those who get chosen to write them have to reach that point by kow-towing appropriately to the bureaucrats and politicans.
But only part of the inaccurate characterization of President APJ Kalam can be explained by sychophancy. The other bit is plain old-fashioned ignorance. Indeed, I am reasonably sure that the text book writers are not very clear about what precisely is the distinction between science and technology. That they did not even attempt to explain that in the book titled “Science and Technology” is an indication that they perhaps don’t know. So it is ignorance that clubs APJ Kalam with a bunch of scientists. APJ Kalam is perhaps best characterised as an administrator with a technical and scientific background. It is doubtful if he is a technologist, leave alone a scientist. Sure he knows some science and something about technology but by that definition even I can be characterized as a scientist and that would be equally wrong.
Nath in his comment wonders why even newspapers are inaccurate and sloppy with their facts. I guess the quality of the supply is dictated by the demand. If the market is satisfied with shoddy goods, that is what the market supplies. The
Slimes Times of India is an obvious example of that phenomenon. They continue to sell crap because the crap sells.
Incidentally, the President is often called “Dr. APJ Kalam.” I have not been able to figure out exactly in which field is his doctoral work on. Any help in this regard would be much appreciated. I had written to the office of the President but they did not bother to reply.