India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world which has a strong tradition of Science and Technology. Ancient India was a land of sages and seers as well as a land of scholars and scientists. Research has shown that from making the best Steel in the world to teaching the world to count, India was actively contributing to the field of science and technology centuries long before modernization. Many theories and techniques discovered by the ancient Indians have created and strengthened the fundamentals of modern Science and Technology.
The contributions made by the ancient Indians to the world of Science and Technology include:
- The idea of zero from Aryabhatta a mathematician and astronomer from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy was the first person to create a symbol for zero and it was through his efforts that mathematical operations like addition and subtraction started using the digit, zero. The concept of zero and its integration into the place-value system also enabled one to write numbers, no matter how large, by using only ten symbols.
- The decimal system expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols.
- The Fibonacci numbers and their sequence first appear in Indian mathematics, mentioned by Pingala in connection with the Sanskrit tradition of prosody.
- Binary number is the basic language in which computer programs are written. Basically refers to a set of two numbers 1 and 0, the combination of which is called as bits and bytes, was first described by Vedic scholar Pingala.
- The value of ‘pi’ was first discovered in India by Baudhayana, long before the European Mathematicians.
- Chakravala method of algorithms is a cyclic algorithm to solve intermediate quadratic equations, this method for obtaining integer solutions was developed by Brahmagupta, a well-known mathematician of the 17th century.
- India established the world’s first university in Takshila in 700BC. Nalanda University was established in the 4th century BC.
- A theory of atom- one of the notable scientists of ancient India was Kanad who is said to have devised the atomic theory centuries before John Dalton was born.
- India was the first to smelt zinc by distillation process, Zawar in the Tri-valley of Rajasthan is the world’s first ancient zinc smelting site and this is an important contribution of India to the world of science.
- Indians were pioneers in Plastic Surgery. It was carried out in India as early as 2000BC by an ancient Indian physician Sushruta. Cataract surgery was also his contribution.
- Ayurveda, one of the oldest school of medicine, was invented in India.
- Yoga which is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices originated in ancient India.
- During the ancient period itself as a result of innovation which eventually led to the planned settlements making use of drainages and sewages, sophisticated irrigation and water storage systems were developed by the Indus valley civilization.
- During ancient age, the inhabitants of the Indus valley developed a system of standardization using weights and measures, evident by the excavations made at the Indus valley site. This technical standardization enabled gauging devices to effectively use that in angular measurements and measurement for construction. Calibration was also found in measuring devices along with multiple subdivisions in some devices. One of the earliest known docks is at Lothal, located away from the main current to avoid deposition of silts. Indus people were the first ones to build and use an Artificial Dockyard.
These strong ancient civilization background gave Indians an opportunity to explore India’s Science and Technology to the world.
In the contemporary times, India is a land where numerous brilliant brains have made contributions in the field of science and technology and enhanced its position around the globe. India has the second-largest group of scientists and engineers in the world.
In the context of technological advancements of scientific achievement, Indian scientists have developed several projects which augment the life of the world population. The various fields in which Indian scientists have excelled include mathematics, warfare, geometry, astronomy, medicine, space science, physics, chemistry and botany.
Here are some achievements of Indian scientists in the arena of Science and Technology in India.
- Dr. Kota Harinarayana, a renowned genius scientist was the brain behind India’s first indigenously built combat aircraft. Tejas, (name of the aircraft) saw its first flight in 2001. India’s first self-made light combat aircraft was built by HAL and developed under Dr. Kota Harinarayana.
- Mangalyaan or Mars-craft, a program by our own Space Research Organisation has been presented as one of the most low cost but high functioning space missions to date. With scientific development, Indians could reach Mars orbit on its first attempt. The brains behind the operation are of the 14 Indian scientists of ISRO.
- India’s first moon probe was efficaciously inserted into the lunar Orbit in 2008 that pushed India’s Space Program onto the world map resulting in India’s achievement being on the same table with NASA and the European space agency. To add on the same note, Chandrayaan’s greatest achievement was the discovery of the extensive presence of water molecules in the lunar soil.
- CV Raman, one of the famous scientists of India whose brilliance was established at a very young age had done pioneering work on scattering of light which is now called the Raman scattering. For this stellar work, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930.
- Prafulla Chandra Ray was a famous academician and chemist, known for being the founder of Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, India’s first pharmaceutical company. His work on miraculous nitrite and its derivatives brought him recognition from all over the world. He set up the first chemical factory in India, with very minimal resources, working from his home. In 1901, this pioneering effort resulted in the formation of the Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical works Ltd.
- Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was a notable Indian engineer, scholar, statesman and the Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918. Sir M Visvesvaraya was one of the most eminent engineers of India who maintained high principles and discipline in his life. He was best known for his contribution as the chief architect behind the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara dam in Mandya which helped to convert the surrounding barren land into fertile ground for farming. For his persistent work in the field of Engineering and education he was honored with the Bharat Ratna. Additionally, he was also awarded several honorary doctorate degrees from universities in India. Marking his significant achievements, his birth date 15th September is celebrated as ‘Engineers Day’ in India.
- Jagdish Chandra Bose was an eminent scientist who invented many of the microwave components such as a waveguide, horn antenna, polarizer, dielectric lenses and prisms and even semiconductor detectors of electromagnetic radiation in the last decade of the 19th century. He also proposed the existence of electromagnetic radiation from the sun, which was confirmed in 1944.
- Satyendra Nath Bose Indian physicist especially in quantum mechanics was famous for the Bose-Einstein theory.
- Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar well-known for the Chandrasekhar limit was the scientist who made commendable work in astrophysics, physics and applied mathematics. His research explored nearly all branches of theoretical astrophysics. His most famous work concerns the radiation of energy from stars, particularly white dwarf stars, which are the dying fragments of stars.
- Vikram Sarabhai was considered as the father of the Indian space program, India’s first satellite Aryabhata launched in 1975 was one of the many projects planned by him. He was the chairman of the atomic energy commission, vice president and chairman of the UN conference on peaceful uses of outer space in 1968 and the President of the 14th general conference of the international atomic energy agency. The International Astronomical Union named a crater in the moon after him, in honor of his marvelous role to science.
- Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is remembered as a great scientist, an inspirational leader and an extraordinary human being. As a scientist Kalam made successful efforts in developing the Polar SLV and SLV-III projects between the 1970s and 1990s. In the 1970s Kalam also directed two projects, namely, Project Devil and Project Valiant which sought to develop the ballistic missile from the technology of the successful SLV program. Despite the disapproval of the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these Aerospace projects through the discretionary power under Kalam directorship. His research and educational leadership brought him great laurel and Prestige in the 1980s, all these prompted the government to initiate and advanced missile program under his directorship.
The contributions to the Science and Technology of the Indian scientists, academicians, chemists and engineers in various fields and the Nobel Awards and other honoraries resulted in the Indian footprint in the Global Science and Technology.
Our country has given more contributions in the field of Information Technology(IT), Biotechnology, Space and Nuclear Technology and has gained recognition all over the world. Apart from that India has become an associate member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research. India belongs to the select group of countries that have developed indigenous nuclear technology.
After Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru initiated reforms to promote higher education and science and technology in India. Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) was started in India to promote technical education.
India has progressively paved the way for development in the field of science and technology. The 21st century in India is apparently marked as the beginning towards the advancement in the terms of Technology and enrichment of the knowledge base in the fields of science. India holds a strong position in terms of Advanced technology. India served as a knowledge warehouse with the existence of its many Institutions scattering to Science and Technology with qualified and trained manpower. India has a strong scientific and technological base that spreads across the country in the form of academic Institutions, Research and Development laboratories, advanced medical centers, experimental centers and different advanced Industries.
In today’s world, the role of science and technology is indispensable. We need science and technology in every walk of our life to treat diseases such as cancer or even to book a cab or train or flight ticket. In fact without Technology we cannot imagine our life. Because of development in all spheres of Science and Technology, today India unquestionably is a leading developing country in the world. In a nutshell, a strong developed country will have the best Science and Technology. Therefore Science and technology are a boon for the overall scientific and economic development of any country and the role of India’s contribution to science and technology is on a higher level.
Note for viewers: The author was chosen as a winner for the above article depending upon the participation and quality in the ‘Essay Writing Contest’ organized in May 2020. The opinions expressed in the article are purely of the author.