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Is Indian science too theoretical?

Indian Academy of Sciences
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  • Inorganic & Physical Chemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Mathematics


On the origin of the artesian OPINION CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 105, NO. 1, 10 JULY 2013 15 Is Indian science too theoretical? E. Arunan Disclaimer: I have nothing against theo- retical science or scientists and my own research uses theoretical, computational and modelling aspects extensively, almost always to enhance our understanding of the problems we study with home-built experimental facilities. I respect and admire all the theoretical scientists men- tioned without naming them here and their contributions to science. Here the word ‘theoretical’ is used with the broadest sense, including ‘science of no practical use’ and I also discuss the ‘lack of adequate experimentalists building in- digenous experimental facilities’. When I was a Ph D student at the Kansas State University, Robert Hammaker who was teaching a course on group theory used to start his course with a statement, ‘Theory guides, experiment decides’. The current and past leaders of India seem to have ensured that we will not have any decisive leaders in Indian sci- ence. Experimental science has not been encouraged adequately. An emphasis on quantity rather than either quality or the nature of work has seen to it that people who publish more have been encouraged and rewarded. I have pointed this out earlier in this journal1,2. Recently, following the initial invita- tion to Gautam Desiraju, four of us wrote an essay about Indian chemistry in An- gewandte Chemie, International Edi- tion3. This essay came out in a special Jubilee issue of Angewandte Chemie in January 2013. Another author in this issue was the eminent experimental physical chemist, by now well known to the readers of this journal, Richard Zare from Stanford university. He had written about the status of university education in USA4, and these two articles, by some coincidence appeared back to back. Our essay had a gra

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