NEW DELHI: The Indian Council of Historical Research (
) is tying up with Indian Space Research Organisation (
) to work together “to trace India’s legacy in the field of
and technology” and find out if India was a ‘Vishwa Guru’ in science in ancient times.
Raghuvendra Tanwar, ICHR chairman, said that initial documentation for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Isro has been done and only the signing part is left. Pointing out that the new project is going to be “purely an academic exercise”, the ICHR chief said there are several Isro scientists who have a scientific mindset but are also into the history of science and technology. “We want to use whatever inputs they have about the Indian history of science and technology,” he said.
“Ancient Indian shrines like Meenakshi and Thanjavur temples have been standing tall for ages without any iron or concrete support. The level of physics involved in the temple architecture is mind boggling. If India is now recognised as the mother of democracy across the globe, then we should also find out if the country was a ‘Vishwa Guru’ and was way ahead of others in science and technology in ancient times,” Tanwar said.
ICHR member secretary and JNU’s history professor
Umesh Ashok Kadam
, who has started holding discussion with Isro chairman S Somanath on the project, told
that ICHR is targeting six volumes of documentation and has sought an initial amount of Rs 1.5 crore for the project.
On the objective of the project, Kadam said, “Science and technology has been misinterpreted in a very colonial-kind of outlook. They (western experts) have been seeing our history in science and technology in a very spiritual and religious framework. They are not applying the same position when they are trying to understand the Greek, Roman or Arabic versions.”
“There are lots of scientific temperament and technological developments within the realms of India throughout the ages — whether it was ancient times, medieval times or modern times. India had in the past contributed significantly in the fields of science and technology to the world. We want to seek historical inputs from a pool of scientists in the fields of science, technology, maths, geography, astrology, astronomy and several other areas under this project and document them,” he said.
On the collaboration with Isro, the ICHR member secretary said, “We are not going into rocket science. But we want to utilise the intellectual capabilities of Isro scientists who are academicians too. Their understanding of historical themes is different and very scientific. We want to tap that knowledge.”
The professor said ICHR has identified historical sources in various vernacular languages across India — in sanskrit and pandulipis. Within them, there is a vast scientific knowledge hidden. “We want to collect those information and examine how they were used at different intervals of time,” he said.