The idea of a website focused on India's science and technology advancements was first envisioned, created, and published as indusscitech.net in 2000 by Dr. M. A. Pai, Professor Emeritus, Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and his wife, Mrs. Nandini Pai.
In 2008, indusscitech.net was gifted to Center for Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania. Subsequently, indusscitech.net was absorbed into CASI's larger mission: https://casi.sas.upenn.edu/ . This present website, launched in April 2018, is a continuation of that effort by Dr. and Mrs. Pai. The website is managed by their daughter, Mrs. Sunanda Vittal.
Science and Technology in India After 70 Years
by Dr. M. A. Pai
The story of India’s progress in Science and Technology since 1947 is a fascinating one, especially when compared to other nations that gained independence soon after WW II. Great credit goes to the Founders of Modern India, and in particular to the first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Scientific Policy Resolution Act, passed in 1958, is a clear articulation of the way in which India has developed its S&T infrastructure. The concept of fostering the "scientific temper" is enshrined in the Constitution.
Starting with the establishment of the chain of CSIR laboratories in various fields, the setting up of the 6 IITs, and the strengthening of the existing IISc, India got an important head start in S&T development. Around the same time, the country was fortunate to have had the leadership of Professor Homi Bhabha when he joined IISc. The IISc director at the time was the Nobel Laureate, Sir C.V. Raman.
Prof. Bhabha wrote to the Tata Trust about the need to have excellence in the Sciences – in particular, the areas of Mathematics, Physics, and Astronomy. The result was the establishment of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) at Bombay, supported by the generosity of the Tata Trust.
Bhabha and Nehru developed a close understanding about the need to invest in science and technology in a big way. This commitment led to the start of programs in Nuclear science, Space science, Biological sciences and Computer technology (both hardware and software). Thanks to this investment, today, India is considered well advanced in each of these areas at the international level.
Similarly, during the early years into independence, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai established India’s Space program. Currently, ISRO continues to be on par with similar efforts in most other advanced countries.
India’s other great achievements were in the areas of 1) food self-sufficiency, thanks to the Green Revolution headed by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, 2) milk production sufficiency, a revolution led by Dr. Verghese Kurien, 3) the information technology revolution, spearheaded by Mr. Sam Pitroda in 1981, and 4) introducing Aadhar under the leadership of Mr. Nandan Nilekani, as a form of biometric and digital ID for India's massive population. Finally, the liberalization of the economy in 1991 marked a significant step forward for the country as it began to compete in the global economy.
In the area of industry, the country developed the steel and heavy machinery industry, as well as the electrical power manufacturing industries, thus putting the country on par with industrially advanced economies of the world.
Unfortunately, during the above-mentioned periods of progress, investments in infrastructure, namely, roads, electrification and water resources, did not keep pace. This is an area where considerable effort is being made now. India's initiatives, such as instituting the "Aadhar" card as a unique form of ID in many economic activities is a huge task being undertaken currently. And steps such as digital India and mobile connectivity all over India and the completion of connecting all villages of India to the power grid is fast making India a global player in the 21st century.
This website aspires to capture the exciting and innovative strides that India continues to make in the S &T field.