ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Democracy, Governance and Science

STS studies in India have found their impetus and site in social movements rather than in the academe and science policy centres. Our official scientists were eloquent about our nuclear power and our need for greater investment in science. But it is the movements that have provided the great critiques of science. STS in an academic sense has been the case of a missing discipline that democracy in India urgently needs but cannot access.

Empire's Setting Sun?

It is difficult to give a measure of Patrick Blackett's wide-ranging influence in India. He had no official status in defence matters except as an advisor to Nehru. Since his consultations were not widely known, his public reputation, nor surprisingly, was largely in the field of scientific research institution building. In this capacity he advocated a realistic appraisal of the relations between the state and the military, and limitations on the military's growth and influence. It is not as a mililtary consultant, however, but as an intervenor in scientific affairs and advisor to the research system that Blackett was and is best known in India. He came to understand its political-economy, specifically the political limits of the influence of the scientific community and the way in which very scarce economic resources were (or were not) mobilised within it. Blackett's objectives in India are enduring: to improve the working conditions of people doing research; to cut away the bureaucratic brambles which grow around the practice of research; to think carefully about the things which can be developed locally instead of being imported, to balance the state's insatiable desire for technical prestige with enhancing ordinary peoples' abilities to provide a better life for themselves.

The View from Vevey

Most writings on globalisation exemplify technological globalisation by referring to the importance of computer technology in international trade. In this paper, the focus is on the technology of genetic engineering. A recurring issues in the debate on globalisation is the question whether globalisation leads to homogenisation. This paper attempts a closer look at the nuances within the 'social movements' protesting globalisation, especially the farmers' movements and the Indian farmers' Inter-Continental Caravan (ICC) and the processes accompanying the resistance to globalisation, including perceptions of new technologies such as biotechnology.

Uses of Scientific Argument

This essay seeks to carry out an apparently simple task: to recover some of the ways in which 'science' was used as a category by nationalists in late colonial India in connection with the need for 'development'. In so doing, the essay also looks at ways in which 'science' became part of a legitimating rhetoric in late colonial India.

Towards an Understanding of Gandhi's Views on Science

Gandhi, it is argued in this paper, was not anti-science as is commonly misunderstood. Through a look at his various experiments, many unrealised in his time, it is shown that Gandhi's life defined a space for an alternative science for civil society that would operate with different methods. Gandhi's focus on the non-physical resources in organising for science, the satyagrahi scientist, for instance, is a radical departure from science policy as expressed by Nehru in his famous Scientific Policy Resolution of 1956 and followed in India since independence. He also had a universal message by providing a new cosmology of man-nature and fact-value relations that he articulated and put in place through his various experiments. With this outline of a theoretical framework for Gandhian science, the case of the khadi movement is taken up for detailed explication.

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