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Monday, December 10, 2007

A kid has to mug up Science and its formulae the way he mugs up Sanskrit Poems

Can Indians Distinguish Between Religion and Science? from Desicritics by Sujai
When one follows discussions or debates with Indians, it appears that many educated Indians believe Religion and Science to be the same. According to them, Religion and Science are two sides of the same coin...
There is a fundamental reason why most Indians think Religion and Science are the same and that there is not much difference between the two. I think the answers lies in the way Science is taught in India.Indians are taught their lessons not through discourse, not through investigation, not through empiricism, but as a dogma, where a set of beliefs are shoved down your throat, unquestioned, just like the way a religion is taught. Indians learn their subjects by rote, by heart, and then reproduce them verbatim in their exams - word to word. It is as important to reproduce their texts in Indian education as it is in Religion.
Just look at the way History is taught in India. It is always a collection of facts, dates, and names. Nobody knows why it is important to know that the Battle of Panipat happened in 1526. There is no background, no premise, no context, and no analysis. Nobody discusses the events or writes about significance of those events. Science is taught the same way. Nobody knows why F=ma. It is so, because Newton said so. Why do we have volcanoes? It is so because the textbook said so. Why do planets revolve around the sun? The teacher says, ‘Because I said so’. Not very different from how religions treat such curious questions, saying ‘Because Bible says so’. No discussion, no debate, no explanation, no reasoning, no construction of argument, Period.
A kid has to mug up Science and its formulae the way he mugs up Sanskrit Poems. He doesn’t understand either of them. Such mugging up activities is done to pass the exam, go to the next level, and win the fist rank. A parent whose kid scores first rank is happy – he doesn’t care or bother to know if the kid really understands the subject. As far Indian education is concerned it is happy as long as the kid is a good Xerox copy machine with Terabytes of memory. They don’t need an intelligent and thinking machine.
Given such education for fifty years in this country, what you get is globetrotting, suit-wearing, English speaking, elite-educated Indians who have not imbibed the scientific or rational temperament but who can spew forth all the words and sentences useful to give one a successful job, career and lot of money.
Education in India is not to impart rational thinking or induce scientific temperament or to induce universal laws or inculcate a mature discussion capability. It is not to make law-abiding citizens or better humans. It is treated as a cumbersome but necessary exercise that one has to go through to earn more in life, get material goods, buy homes, get a good career, buy cars, travel world (nowadays), show off and feel happy about.
No wonder Indians completely lack scientific temperament, even those who attend top colleges in the world, even those who do their PhD in Physics, even those who launch rockets into space, even those who do research in medicine.
When they go back home, after finishing their ‘job’, which is done only to go the next level in social and economic hierarchy, they go back to their gods, their blind beliefs and their superstitions. They go back to the safe abode of secure irrationality where once again Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter become real. The Hanuman and the monkeys who build bridges become real. Where Shri Ram is not just real, but is hyper-real. Where Physics is not just enough, one needs meta-physics to explain things. That’s where Indians continue to find their Hinduism superior to Modern Science.

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