Science And National Pride
02 July, 2003
As I mentioned in
my last column, I bid farewell to the book-carrying ship Logos II and
left for Raleigh-Durham of North Carolina State. From San Diego to Raleigh,
it is a four-hour flight with a brief stopover at Chicago.
The moment I came out of
the Raleigh airport, I saw cars bearing number plates that read First
in Flight. I did not at once understand what they meant.
Last year, while on a visit
to Chicago, the moment I came out of a railway station, I saw cars bearing
number plates Land of Lincoln. I then thought because of
Lincolns indomitable stature, the State in which he was born proudly
keeps mentioning him as its worthy son.
But what did First
in Flight mean? Not just one or two number plates, but each and
every car registered in that State bore the same logo. On enquiry, I
was told that the Wright Brothers, who had invented the aeroplane, belong
to the State!
In other words, North Carolina
describes itself as the State First in Flight. As Lincoln
was born in Illinois, the first aeroplane was born in the State of North
Carolina. That State, therefore, proclaims it with pride.
If we go by such pride proclamations,
Alabama should have adopted Land of Martin Luther King as
King was born and brought up in that State. But Alabama has not done
that so far. Though Martin Luther Kings birthday is a national
holiday, his own State has not become the Land of King.
Racism has its own room in
America even now. At the same time, it is being fought with all the
strength of the Black population.
The Whites as a social mass
positively respond to the anti-racist struggles and discourses. Some
of them even join hands with Blacks in their day-to-day protests against
The anti-racism bent of the
White Democrats has been part of the intellectual tradition of Americans.
North Carolina is not only the birthplace of aeroplanes, it is the birthplace
of racism too. Early import of slaves began in that State, and slavery
Slavery then became an all-American
phenomenon. It slowly acquired an international dimension. The Black
labourers built the American economy bit by bit, and made it very powerful
Many European Whites who
migrated to America slowly came under the influence of the English language.
Of course, Christianity being the common religion, it also constructed
a common bridge of culture among all Americans. Consequently, they do
not have diverse food cultures from State to State, as we do in India.
In our country, Gujaratis
are very fundamentalist vegetarians and sweetmeat-eaters; Punjabis are
roti, onion and dal eaters. South Indians are basically rice-eaters
and prefer chillis and tamarind. But the huge expanse of the American
continent seems to have acquired a common multi-cultural food habit,
with beef and bread as the staples.
I kind of discovered Timothy
Kasbe, a Dalit from Maharashtra with boundless talent, now living in
Raleigh. He heads the marketing section of IBM, one of the worlds
largest computer and software companies. This company sent Kasbe for
the Duke MBA course, which is one of the costliest courses in the world.
The Duke University has a
very prestigious Fuqua School of Business Management that offers specialised
courses in different forms of business management.
Kasbe told me that IBM had
paid $150,000 towards his two-year MBA course fees and other expenses.
He now feels proud about his prestigious MBA degree, thanks to his company.
The Deans office of
the School of Business Management interviewed me in its studio. That
video interview, I am told, will be shown to all their students on the
reopening day of the university.
After the interview was over,
Kasbe took me to the Duke basketball stadium and told me that the university
produces world class basketball players. The Duke University basketball
team has so far been Americas best team.
Quite interestingly, all
the basketball players are either Blacks or coloured African-Americans.
There is not a single player whose height is less than seven feet. I
was told that the sports department had made it a policy to recruit
only African-Americans who combine both physical and mental abilities.
Normally, the sports departments
of the universities compromise with academic standards as far as players
are concerned, but the Duke University does not.
Hence these African-American
youth get the best of jobs in all companies, as they bring laurels to
their companies through their talent in sports, and also work well thanks
to their excellent intellect and good academic training.
The Duke University is a
private university established by a tobacco baron. At the beginning,
it was started as a theological training centre. Then it diversified,
expanded and became one of the worlds best universities in many
fields particularly medicine and business management.
In every branch of the University,
the African-Americans get their quota of seats and they have been excelling
in many fields, including medicine and business management. Probably,
a society that feels guilty about the social inequality it constructed,
is now looking for ways and means to remove such inequality.
In many countries, religion
gives rise to a feeling of guilt, and in many cases, a soul-searching
self that certainly evolves some positive social values.
Hinduism is the only religion
that never allowed its priestly caste and other social forces closely
associated with it to let in the feeling of guilt, even about the practice
of untouchability for centuries.
Even now, there is no such
soul-searching among Hindus. That is one of the reasons why there is
a consistent opposition to reservations for the lower castes.
In sports and other cultural
activities, perhaps our tribals, Dalits and OBCs would have brought
laurels to the nation, if only they were given preference as the Duke
University gives to the Blacks.
All the major universities
in America including Harvard were private universities
and most of them were started as theological centres. Subsequently,
they expanded and diversified their educational structure.
We must then ask why did
Indian industrialists not establish good universities? We have industrialists
like Birla who make business out of temples, but they never established
a university that could become a model university.
Capitalism also should have
its capitalistic welfare ethics. Within the broad framework of democracy,
capitalism should establish efficient, diversified educational institutions,
which can produce intellectuals of plural backgrounds.
Such positive capitalist
ethics evolves in a civil societal environment where the basic consciousness
of spiritual democracy expands. Indian capitalism functions in an environment
of spiritual fascism. That is the reason why its sense of science is
also very slow.
Things like Illinois State
taking pride in Lincoln for abolishing slavery and North Carolina lauding
the invention of the aeroplane become possible when even a tobacco baron
like Duke thinks of establishing an efficient university that locates
talents among all sections of the people.
Science develops only in
an environment where all kinds of talents have been harnessed with equal
opportunities. In America, the Black talent is being harnessed in every
In India, such an environment
has not been created. The Indian institutions think that the productive
communities are not worthy enough to be promoted in every sphere of
life. It is here that our scientific temper suffers a lot.