A North Pole for Science and Technology

Y. Nayudamma’s work and contributions show how scientists and technologists can be drivers of change

Y. Nayudamma’s work and contributions show how scientists and technologists can be drivers of change

Mankind has been shaped by several ancient civilizations, examples being the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Chinese and the Indus Valley. These civilizations have evolved since the time when humans first decided to give up their nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle and settle in one place. It has been a long journey of many thousands of years before we joined what is called modern civilization, with its common features and ambitions around the world. The main feature of this journey was the accumulation of abundant knowledge and the pursuit of higher living standards, propelled by rapid advances in science and technology.

So much so that a human must now be called a “technological animal”, always on the lookout for new tools that further his growing ambitions. This relentless quest for a better life has raised serious questions about the values, purpose, relevance and consequences of blindly pursuing and applying science and technology. Who is the master? Science or the people? Agenda-setting is the central theme.

Issues about values, interests

This is the birth year of Dr. Y. Nayudamma, recipient of Padma Shri, well-known scientist, former director of the Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai and former director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. His work, contributions and philosophy shed clear light on various issues related to science and technology. He had outlined a clear set of goals and objectives and the values ​​that should guide their progress.

The main issues are: whether science and technology should adapt to the people or whether people should adapt to them; whether they should arise from the perceived needs and concerns of the people or be driven from the top; what are the values ​​that should guide and govern the pursuit of science and technology and their applications; how to mitigate and address the undesired consequences of arbitrary application of these powerful tools, and whose interests these tools should serve.

The work and contributions of Dr. Nayudamma mirrored these concerns and showed how scientists and technologists can (and can) be effective drivers of such change. Science pursued in an ivory tower may not in itself serve humanity. It must be brought to the people in the form of effective technological tools that anyone could use to solve their problems. Science should be for society and technology should be driven by the needs of the people.

Reshaping the leather industry

As a renowned learning scientist, Dr. Nayudamma made a pioneering contribution to change the face and nature of the tannery industry in the country. The profession of collecting skins from dead animals, practiced by some traditional communities, was once looked down upon because of factors such as the stench and the difficult nature of the work. He thought about how science and technology can make a difference to make this profession widely accepted. He succeeded in this by making it possible to remove the stench and improve the skills of those involved in this work. He promoted leather products to improve the income of tanneries. In doing so, he proved that the application of science and technology can help improve the economic viability of the activity to which these instruments are applied, in addition to promoting higher paid employment.

As a result, the leather products and the leather industry have gained greater public acceptance. Indian leather products are in high demand in international markets. Owning quality leather products such as shoes and handbags have become a part of one’s image. People from different communities are now involved in the leather industry, breaking down traditional barriers and prejudices. dr. Nayudamma was thus clearly a mediator of social change.

Values ​​guide the choice of technology. The central values ​​that guide people around the world are ‘materialism and consumerism’. The unrestrained pursuit of such ends does not help people to live in peace with them. Hence, Indian philosophy and thought emphasized a spiritual pursuit of inner peace to live in harmony with society and nature. Science and technology must enable development in harmony with nature.

Programs and threads

I am struck by the vision of Dr. Nayudamma, as some of his views are now reflected in some of the key initiatives of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Talking about the need for empowerment of all walks of life, Dr. Nayudamma – in a certain context – that if a woman has a bank account, she would be treated differently and respected in the family. This helps with her emancipation. This is clearly the core of the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), under which about 50 crore bank accounts have been opened to enable financial inclusion and empowerment. The PMJDY is described as “a national financial inclusion mission that encompasses an integrated approach to achieve comprehensive financial inclusion of all households in the country”.

Self-reliance was at the heart of Dr. Nayudamma. He believed that our colonial past and Western training, orientation and education have made us look to the West for the import of technology and solutions, and that Western remedies may not solve India’s problems, which are different and context specific. He strongly advocated self-reliance in science and technology. This is also the essence of the Prime Minister’s Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative (a vision of self-reliance).

Referring to the provisions of the United Nations Charter, Dr. Nayudamma emphasized the point of empowering everyone to live in dignity, have worth, equal rights, better living standards, security, etc. with the participation of everyone in national efforts. This is the underlying principle of the philosophy of ‘Sab Ka Sath-Sab Ka Vikas-Sab Ka Prayas’.

It is rare to see such farsighted and visionary scientists as Dr. Nayudamma to be found. It’s a shame that a plane crash in June 1985 took his life when he was only 63 years old. India greatly misses this man of great vision.

dr. Nayudamma was a link in the chain of India’s great scientific heritage. Thousands of years ago, we had great scientists like Baudhayana, Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharya, Mahaviracharya, Varahamihira, Kanada, Susruta, Charaka, Patanjali, etc. who made pioneering contributions in various fields of knowledge. This tradition had faded during the medieval period, which was marked by foreign invasions.

Concerted efforts are now underway to restore the pride of a ‘Vishawaguru’ – who was India in the past. We all need to participate in this effort by streamlining our education systems, forms of science and research.

We live in a time where knowledge is the real power. We must empower everyone with the knowledge that is each individual’s best resource. We must provide such knowledge that enables a collective solution to our nation’s problems.

dr. Nayudamma emphasized the point that education is not meant to bring enlightenment and that it should unleash the inner potential of everyone to make everyone self-reliant and confident. We need such systems from knowledge providers in every domain.

Nationalism is a positive force

dr. Nayudamma firmly believed that an individual thrives and is at his/her best with a sense of community participation and in an environment of collective effort. Such an ecosystem is best provided if we are guided by the spirit of nationalism. Nationalism is accordingly a positive force to ensure the rapid progress of our nation by realizing the full potential of each individual. It is not a negative factor, as is propagated by some.

The development strategies adopted worldwide, based on modern scientific and technological progress, result in rapid resource depletion and ecological imbalances and inequalities. What is needed are alternative development models to ensure sustainable and harmonious development. for dr. Nayudamma, the environment was not a piece of real estate. It is a heritage that must be preserved for future generations and it is a serious responsibility of everyone.

In its centenary, 1922, I pay tribute to all scientists and technologists who strive with care, concern and responsibility for the betterment of humanity.

M. Venkaiah Naidu is the Vice President of India

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