Science: Achilles heel of Gujarat 

During the week, I did two near-impossible things, i.e. watch a movie, that too in Gujarati. But, on watching the movie, I felt that my endeavour to do the impossible was as insignificant to that of the movie makers’ as Earth’s gravity is to even a small magnate!

The young movie-makers of the first sci-fi movie in Gujarati appear to be inspired by the White queen who imagined six impossible things before the breakfast; as they have imagined at least three impossible things, i.e. Gujarati is a language to try sci-fi, Gujaratis would watch a movie when they are told that it is sci-fi and a science fiction movie means that it is fictional movie based on science and not a movie based on fictional science.

While I incredulously enjoyed their earnest effort to explain interesting scientific ideas, what really struck me hard was emptiness of the theatre, as it looked like an ominous sign for Gujarati culture. 

If we look for image of our culture beyond Dhokla and Garba (as promoted by Bollywood), it is an undisputed fact that a Gujarati may be caricaturized to look like a cartoon, but can never be depicted as a poor businessman.

Unfortunately, this could change before we realise what has hit us. Unnoticed by us, with information-gaps shrinking fast in the new age of science, trader-culture of Gujarat that understands nothing but arbitrage of money can be on the verge of bankruptcy.

While my pragmatic advice to the young sci-fi movie-makers is to position their next Gujarati sci-fi as a love story instead, my bigger question is to us Gujaratis.

How long can we live with the illusion that we don’t need to know science to make money?

As a die-hard Gujarati interested in science, I have really tried understanding our mind-set. I have given talks at a “science club” of my city with only three people in the audience. I have seen same “science club” invite an astrologer to talk “science” to a packed house that applauded him for “proving” that “Einstein accepted astrology to be true”; and lot worse, I have talked to the people who really matter in Gujarati culture, i.e. rich businessmen.

My tryst of attracting rich Gujaratis to science has mostly met with “Bhahu bhanela to aapne tya nokari kare” (More educated people do jobs under us). When I talked to a Gujarati tycoons to invest in tech R&D, his claim was that it is smarter to buy a tech company instead of going through pains of nurturing one.

I am sorry to say that what Gujarati businessmen are thinking today is dinosaurian wisdom from a bygone era when capital was the king and knowledge was its poor serf. Now we are in the golden age of science where disruption is a norm and not an exception. If we don’t embrace science as a culture, we are doomed.

The only way to instil science in our cultural DNA is through exposing our next-gen to science through a deliberate action-plan.

The most important transformation required today is to stop looking at formal education as a path to spread science. As internet has already disrupted education as we knew it, we now need to insert science through mediums other than classroom education.

Government needs to find science communicators (like these young sci-fi movie-makers) who can explain science in simple words and if need be in Gujarati and provide them platforms to reach out. 

All science needs is a medium and an audience. After that we can leave it to weave its magical spell on curious young minds. Science is, by its very nature highly infectious, so provided some support, it will catch on and bring the change we desperately need in Gujarat.      

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

1 comment on “Science: Achilles heel of Gujarat 

  1. I feel one of the biggest need in India today is nation building and character building from a young age. 8 out of 10 men have a twisted egoistic selfpraising mindset and very few want to do the right thing or do unto others as they want others to do unto them. Nation building requires a surge in qualities like humility, creativity, applying knowledge and science to solve problems, entrepreneurship, integrity, ethics, honesty, truthspeaking, team spirit, transparency, charity, respect of every human etc…in atleast 6 out of 10 men. We don’t need to ask for unreal selfless, saint, sacrificing,patriots, jingoistic, poor khadidhari , shoeless, monklike mindsets etc. We need transparent, humble, good natured, respectful, team oriented, business honesty, fair competitive, growth science driven mindsets.

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