Saturday, April 30, 2011

Geek Nation

“Wherever in the world we live, Indians and people of Indian origin are famous for being swots, nerds, dweebs, boffins, and dorks,” writes Angela Saini in Geek Nation.
With a population approaching 1.2bn, India has the world’s largest pool of scientists and engineers. While the literacy rate hovers around a dismal 60 per cent, some 400 universities produce 2m graduates every year, including a staggering 600,000 engineers, the most sought after of which are from the 16 Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT’s).
Yet, Indian science is far from taking over the world: it currently contributes less than 3 per cent of global research output, lagging far behind the US and UK.
Manjit Kumar reviews Geek Nation by Angela Saini in Financial Times. Full Review Here

Geek Nation is an impressionistic look at India’s changing scientific landscape through the buttery lens of an outsider. Taking her cue from India’s increased R&D spend, Angela Saini, a British journalist and self-professed geek, embarks on a pushpin-marked pilgrimage through “the birthplace of the geek”, seeking a Pavlovian affirmation of the greatness of the birthplace of her father, a chemical engineer. “India never managed to live up to his dreams — until now. The success of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre is among the first signs that India may have what it takes to become a scientific superpower in the same league as the United States, Europe and Japan. It seems like India is being pulled out of poverty and transformed into a technological giant,” she writes, in a voice rendered cottony by a visit to Thumba, the opening act to a cross-country chronicle of scientific renaissance. 
At first, all seems to be going well for Saini, as she sets about investigating, if tentatively, the legacy of scientific temper that Jawaharlal Nehru, “India’s other important geek” after Vikram Sarabhai, bequeathed to his country. For Saini, Nehru is the dreamboat that has docked India at the hall of scientific fame for the first time since Aryabhatta and Bhaskara, and thus the key to why we became a country of “swots, nerds, dweebs, boffins and dorks”. 
V Shoba reviews Geek Nation by Angela Saini in Indian Express Full Review Here 

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