History of science and technology in India top focus for ICHR


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May 13, 2015
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History of science and technology in India top focus for ICHR

NEW DELHI: The history of science and technology in India starting from the ancient era up to the colonial rule will be among the top focus areas of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), chairman Y Sudershan Rao told ET in an interview recently.

"There is a need to review history writing of traditional Indian knowledge systems. For instance, Chemistry, or Rasayan as it was known back then, was one of the advanced subjects of ancient times and this needs to be highlighted. ICHR will help in documenting the comprehensive history of the development of science and technology in the country through the ages," Rao said when asked about the priorities of the newly constituted Council under the NDA government.

The chairman added that there enough material in ancient manuscripts in Sanskrit to document the scientific progress and achievements in fields such as astronomy, mathematics, agriculture, metallurgy, among other things. "ICHR can either take this up on its own or fund a project," he said. Indian achievements in the field of science and technology have recently been at the centre of a heated debate when Prime Minister Narendra Modi used examples from Mahabharata to illustrate the country's scientific temperament in ancient times.

ICHR member and historian Michel Danino, however, feels that Rao's proposal has merit. "Ancient India's achievements in mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, metallurgy, medicine, water management, etc., are an integral part of our history, yet have been overlooked by most historians and are absent from our history syllabi. This vacuum has encouraged wild exaggeration. I hope ICHR will promote genuine scholarship in the field," he told ET over email.

Apart from science, Rao said, will also focus on compiling a "descriptive bibliography" of historical research on the "Aryan theory".

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