Science in China

January 14, 2006

I am a skeptic when it comes to reporter-type articles. By that I mean articles which
follow the format ” X says, “blah, blah”.But, according to Y…. “. After seeing how news about physics or IITK gets reported in the media, I think I am perfectly justified in my skepticism.

Now that I have said that, let me point to an interesting article I came across – What Happens When Science Is Made In China from the Gossip column of Seed Magazine .I will let you read the whole thing – yeah, i know it is a bit long, so just to give an idea, I’ll quote some bits

The mood in Chinese science is energetic, buoyant and even, as one Western science administrator described it, “euphoric.” China is determined to show the West that it can develop scientifically even as it does so economically—that it can turn out impressive achievements with less than half the funding allotted to the sciences in the West. And that it can do so, in some cases, more efficiently….

Economically and diplomatically, China has already positioned itself as a leader of the developing world. Now it is doing the same scientifically, strengthening its own research foundation and honing its expertise. This puts China in the unprecedented position of being a developing country that has resources to call upon. It’s country whose business leaders rank among the Fortune 500, and whose biotech and nanotech labs are some of the best in the world, where 130 million people still live below the poverty line. China’s rapid economic growth allows it the opportunity to tackle development issues in a way that the West never could. It has the tools to think big and to do it right the first time. And when it comes to the kind of research that will make a difference here—studying pollution reduction and agricultural technologies—the West doesn’t feel the same immediacy. This is where science with Chinese characteristics becomes an investment in the future of developing nations, as well as a saleable commodity; this is how China becomes positioned to do no less than shape the future of the five billion people living in the developing world.

Now again, I am skeptical of how much of this is for real , but irrespective of whether it is being actually done or not, these are things that ought to be done – not only in China but also in India and other nations of the world. For all we know, in about 20-50 years or so India will have a developed China in our neighbourhood ( I just hope it brings light to the lives of the large majority of chinese – Let us not forget that IF this happens it will be a day to celebrate ! That would be the day when development reaches the masses – Chinese still make up a large chunk of humankind ).

And, Indians are definitely going to wonder what went wrong if a similar thing is not happening over here in India… It is hightime Indians start building a new India but unfortunately it’s builders are either too cautious in their optimism or too much steeped in their pessimism or happily unaware ! You see, the previous sentence is a perfect example of what I refer to as “too much steeped in their pessimism” 🙂


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