• Now, “modern science” or the Baconian method (Francis Bacon, English philosopher 1561-1626) of inductive reasoning, careful observations and skeptical analysis of results has come to stay.
  • The method of modern science involves: “ask a question or have a theory, do careful experiments/observations, interpret the results, conclude rationally, have it repeated and tested by others, and if it is confirmed by others, your theory is justify.
  • The “modern scientific method” started to emerge in India in the late 1490s as European explorers such as Vasco de Gama, John Cabot, Ferdinand Magellan and others came over to the “East Indies.
  • This was quickly followed by traders and explorers from England, France and some other parts of Europe. Many of them, traders and capitalists, had to “discover India” and its environs, wealth and health, metals and minerals, began exploiting them for colonial gains.
  • In order to do so, they used scientific methods. In addition, several of them who practised contemporary science, technology, agriculture and medicine spread such knowledge to the “natives.”
  • This has been the emergence of modern science in Colonial India.
  • Bengal Renaissance and the erstwhile capital of British India in Calcutta helped make Bengal (Calcutta/Dacca) the early capital of modern science in India.
  • While J.C. Bose , C.V. Raman , S.N. Bose, P.C. Ray and Meghnad Saha are covered, Dr. Rajinder Singh goes beyond the “Big Three” (C.V. Raman, S.N. Bose and M.N. Saha), and writes about Professors B.B. Ray, D.M. Bose and S.C. Mitra.
  • The piece by Dr. John Mathew: “Ronald Ross to U.N. Brahmachari: Medical Research in Colonial India” talks about how Prof. Brahamachari’s drug “Urea Stibamine” saved thousands of lives from the parasitic disease Kala Azar.
  • The article on “Organic chemists of pre-independence India: with spend focus on natural products” makes special mention of a remarkable polymath, Prof. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, who isolated important drugs such as reserpine from sarpagandha and azadirachtin from the neem tree.
  • When Partition came and he was requested to come to Pakistan, he first refused and then went in 1951 where he helped start the CSIR and the Atomic Energy labs of Pakistan, and an excellent organic chemistry which is still carrying on excellent work.
  • He may thus be regarded as the one who laid the foundations of science and technology in the nascent country, Pakistan.

Tell us more about the Forgotten pioneers

  • Three other contributors are worth nothing; one of them by Sodhi and Kaur on “The forgotten pioneers of fingerprint science: fallout of colonialism,” talks about two Indian police officers, Azizul Haque and Hem Chandra Bose.
  • While these two subordinates did the hard work and quantified fingerprinting using analytical pattern method, their boss Inspector General of Police Edward Henry took the credit!
  • The second is about Nain Singh Rawat who travelled all the way from the Tajikistan Border of the Himalayas down the entire Himalayan track, took careful notes and helped prepare the Upper Road Map in the late 1800s. This helped the Survey of India later.
  • And the third is that of Radhanath Sikdar of Calcutta who discovered through his computation that Peak XV was 29,029 feet high, thus making it the highest in Himalayas and thus the world. However, it was named Mount Everest, after his head officer at the Topographical Survey of India.
  • Dr Bag in his editorial mentions these two discoveries and how the government of India issued a commemorative postage stamp in honour of Rawat and Sikdar on June 27, 2004.