My journey through the Geek Nation – I

Written by  //  April 16, 2011  //  Science & Technology  //  24 Comments

I am reading Angela Saini’s recently published book Geek Nation. The book description on Amazon reads:

India: it’s a nation of geeks, swots and nerds..[Skipped statistics of how Indians are taking over the world]..Geek Nation is a journey to meet the inventors, engineers and young scientists helping give birth to the world’s next scientific superpower.

As a sceptic, irrespective of the rave reviews that the book has got, I was going to read it. While I read it, I will share with you what I find to be the interesting bits about the book as well as give you a brief look at the story line.

=====Part – I=====

Saini starts the book by pointing out that India was once the most advanced scientific nation pointing to the likes of Aryabhatta. But the years since it has been ravaged by rulers and colonial powers, and has lost out on all that it once possessed. Yet, according to Saini, this century brings with it the hope that India will become a ‘scientific superpower’ to understand how and why she has decided to tour the country.

Her first stop is the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre where she chats with Prof. U R Rao. He tells her of the story of how the space research program in India began and how it always aimed towards the betterment of the society.

She then meets Dr. Vijay Singh who is the National Co-ordinator for Science Olympiads. Where he tells her about how sports is just not part of Indian culture but science is. He talks about a wunderkid named Nitin Jain and to understand the ‘prototypical Indian nerd’ she goes to meet him next. He has recently written a book called the ‘The story of my success’.

At his Faridabad home, she is unimpressed by the lack of excitement for science shown by Nitin.  But she even quotes him as ‘nothing much to do with the book, my parents wrote most of it’. He studies at IIT Delhi where she is headed next and describes it as ‘a real geek factory’.

At IIT Delhi she interviews a few current students who complain about the ‘filthy’ campus but praise the engineering classes. She compares how the annual budget of all of the IITs (15 in total) is equal to just 8% of MIT’s annual budget. But the most interesting bit of her experience was she attends a humanities course called ‘Macro perspectives on science and technology in humans’.

I’m the only person in the gloomy room at the top of a flight of grey steps for ten minutes. ‘I’m going to start anyways’, Professor Ambuj Sagar announces. Just a few late comers arrive.

The topic of the lecture is fascinating – the social reasons that automobiles went from small invention to mass-market marvel in the twentieth century – but almost all of the students stare at him blankly, uninterested. If it won’t help them pass their engineering exams, they don’t want to know. None of them are willing to ask questions, and even when he picks people to speak to the class, they look uncomfortable.

Returning the latest essay papers, he tells them, ‘I was a little bit disappointed that having harped on about innovation systems, the answers were not that impressive.’

By the end, he seems exasperated, ‘An innovation system is not an object, it’s what is in our minds,’ he implores.

Ambuj an IIT Delhi alumnus, returned after decades as a researcher at MIT and Harvard. ‘Students just don’t care anymore’, he complains. ‘What unfortunately globalisation has done is brought to India globalised opportunities and salaries and that is the incentive that students are looking at.’

Another student Nishant Ranka tells her that the only reason students come here is that when you leave you are likely to earn more than your father. When chatting to the dean of undergraduate studies, he tells her that coaching classes put students under tremendous pressure and their all-round development is affected.

The National Crime Records Bureau reports more than 2000 students committed suicide across India because they failed their exams.

At the end of her week at IIT Delhi she concludes, ‘I had hoped to find a geek’s paradise here but I haven’t. Instead of being the hothouses of intellectual curiosity and innovation that they promised to be when India created these grand institutions fifty years go, the IITs seem to have developed a culture of getting the grades and getting out.’

About the Author

Akshat is working towards a DPhil in organic chemistry at the University of Oxford. He is on a mission to better understand the impact of science on the society and in the process communicate science to influence public opinion. He blogs about science on The Allotrope and about everything else at Contemplation."

View all posts by

24 Comments on "My journey through the Geek Nation – I"

  1. local moving companies boca raton July 20, 2014 at 2:18 am ·

    If you’d prefer to relocate completely hassle-free, Professional moving corporations area unit
    the simplest resort. While this move has caused consternation among employees unable to cope with the enormous performance expectations,
    and who call the company ‘Taco Hell’ the fact remains that such an initiative
    has helped the company and effect a remarkable
    turnabout in the last couple of years. Another reason to choose a major moving
    company is that they usually have affiliates located throughout the country and even around the world, which makes a
    van line service an even more desirable option if you are moving long distance.

    Stop by my web page local moving companies boca raton

  2. laser comb hair regrowth reviews September 12, 2014 at 3:58 am ·

    They want you to come to the salon on a regular basis so they tell you that
    you need to get a haircut every four to six weeks, but it’s just a way for them to make more money.
    These use a number of techniques to move the natural oils down their hair such as boar bristle
    brushing and ‘scritching’ between washes. Your hair
    protected the top of the head from the elements.

    Take a look at my web site … laser comb hair regrowth reviews

  3. Marine maytag bottom freezer Ice maker September 15, 2014 at 6:56 am ·

    You don’t want to linger until the last minute to make your plan so
    I would recommend reading the waterway guidebook in advance.
    The old art of stealth in carp fishing seems to
    be as dead as the dodo on most carp waters today and it seems to me that the average carp angler is so manically driven to get in a swim set
    up and cast out they have no idea it is far better to
    think like the fish and not an angler first and truly give carp
    the respect they deserve that will guarantee to give them
    the catches their strive so manically for. Bait casting are multiplying reels, with the spool mounted above
    the rod.

    my web blog :: Marine maytag bottom freezer Ice maker

  4. moving storage boxes lowes September 16, 2014 at 8:21 pm ·

    Most probably, they will need help of professionals to complete the task properly.
    If you are available every time for your clients then they will regard this thing.
    Such storage facilities have created sensations among
    people owning loads of things. Many companies businesses don’t want to host their own data center and worry
    about connectivity, power, climate control, security,
    and the management of all the people and facilities required to host a data center.
    The cardholder can also enjoy broadband services with
    their calling cards. It’s actually a seaside city in South East
    Queensland, Australia and is Ninety four kms south of the state capital Brisbane.
    There are many such companies that are engaged with auto
    wraps, billboards, truck wraps, vehicle wraps,
    etc. Of great importance for tourists is the Medieval Castle,
    built by the Moors during the Arab period of the city and
    dating back to the 11th century. Hiring a removal company will make your move more
    stress free because the majority of your work will be taken from you.

    Make sure that the pricing is strictly determined in the
    contract you sign so that you do not end up paying more than you have expected.

    My webpage :: moving storage boxes lowes

  5. affordable moving companies houston September 19, 2014 at 10:50 am ·

    These boxes are specially designed for shipping clothes, framed artwork
    and perilous materials. The Illinois Movers will give you
    with an end-to-end solution at a cheap basis. Now we come to the feature that
    is really what robots and robotic vacuum cleaners are all about;
    apart from atending to the routine maintenance you can simply set it to work and forget about it.

    * Storage facilities can be availed for short-term or long-term needs.
    They are important political cities that define national politics in their
    respective country. Dehradun based movers and packers have wide range of goods transporters and important resources
    for trouble-free shipping of belongings. While away for
    a longer period, drop the room temperature in 12 -16 degrees of Celsius.
    Now the point is with so many movers in the city offering array of services, how
    to choose reliable movers in Orange County. We are repairing and installment different types of gates suchlike Actuation Steel State Doors, Mercenary Coiled Grills
    for much than 10 age. Now this idea was extended with the time and come in face of banking system.

    My page; affordable moving companies houston

  6. hcg weight loss los angeles September 22, 2014 at 5:04 am ·

    The best part is you do not have to deny your sweet tooth using these quick weight
    loss diets. No one has to live with the discomfort of nasal congestion. These alternatives
    will still give out the same one to two pounds of weight loss per day.

    My website – hcg weight loss los angeles

  7. dock window box brackets for vinyl siding September 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm ·

    She has a charm that is slightly reminiscent of the childhood favourite Rosie
    and Jim’s Ragdoll, with a modernized interior to suit the 21st century traveller.
    At times, your sailing instructor may need to issue an order and
    have it followed immediately. Freshwater fish can be placed in the live well on the boat, or on a stringer to
    keep it alive until you are able to clean it.

    my web-site dock window box brackets for vinyl siding

  8. weight loss chart for hcg Diet September 25, 2014 at 2:08 am ·

    Great present, as my family worried about my health. But first,
    here is a list of a few of the similarities:
    . However, dieting with the use of the oil from coconuts definitely works because it
    provides you with nutrition.

    my page … weight loss chart for hcg Diet

  9. boca raton las Vegas cpa jobs September 25, 2014 at 7:49 am ·

    A thorn on your wealth transfer to your next generation. We can see the
    importance of this concept by noticing companies today whose operations are strictly financial advising.
    Once you have found a school that can help you achieve your educational goals,
    enroll in their internet classes.

    My blog boca raton las Vegas cpa jobs

  10. storage units san diego mission valley October 8, 2014 at 5:39 pm ·

    Is it because of the lonesomeness that you’re presently going through.
    Also with a good mover, your valuable goods are insured because most of
    packers movers provide comprehensive insurance coverage service.
    The employer may want to explain how to do something differently than how you have been doing it.
    New York City, major center of finance, insurance, media,
    and real estate, sis one of the world’s financial capitals.
    When transporting the car to Egypt port, it is very important that you look into the details of the customs fee and
    port fee. As soon as you’ve looked at all the principals, it’s time to
    have a trip to the self-storage facility itself to see what exactly they are offering as a
    portion of the package. Gather information related to kind of storage solutions it has offered to various companies.
    Professional call answering services enable offices everywhere to
    take advantage of the latest technology while maintaining a professional image.
    Discriminating parents seeking classic linens for their son’s
    sheets and curtains can get all-in-one sets of striped or dotted textiles in rich,
    regal colors. Unanticipated incidents or acts of God such
    as fire or floods can be dangerous for every single business who relies on their
    stored paperwork.

    Look at my web-site storage units san diego mission valley

  11. CheapWeb PageDevelopmentbangalore October 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm ·

    Kochi web seo Beautiful part of content material. I stumbled upon your current website plus accession investment capital to express that we get involved truth adored consideration your site content. Anyway I will be subscribing for your nourishes or perhaps I completion you receive correct with admittance to consistently rapidly.

  12. Visit November 11, 2014 at 7:19 pm ·

    Welcome I am high profile escort, Model by Profession and Escort by Choice. I want change in life and want to enjoy it to its full extent. So Now I am here to host you. Like me few of my friends from fashion and modelling industry are also available For Escort Service in Delhi.

  13. Ohh.Nu December 15, 2014 at 12:46 am ·

    I escort service in Pune, Independent Escort always remain free for you. so please come fast and make me feel comfortable by taking care of the body from you own hands and please grab me tightly so that i can also feel the hardness and warmth which is found only in some of the handsome man which are very much hard to find and to find that particular love and man hood

  14. ahamdabad escort website seo December 16, 2014 at 3:36 pm ·

    certainly just like your website but you ought to look into the punctuational about a number of of the threads ahamdabad escort website seo. A lot of them are rife having punctuation challenges so i in discovering them pretty worrisome to make sure the facts however I’m going to absolutely return yet again.

  15. Puducherry Escort Website Seo January 6, 2015 at 7:28 am ·

    Valuable facts. Fortunate myself I uncovered your web site by chance, and i’m stunned why this twist of fate didn’t came about ahead of time! I personally book marked the idea Puducherry escort website seo.

  16. hindi film maker February 10, 2015 at 11:05 pm ·

    Superb site. A great deal of valuable data below. I’m submitting that to a few friends ans likewise revealing around delectable. And definitely, appreciation for your energy! Superb site. A great deal of valuable data below. I’m submitting that to a few friends ans likewise revealing around delectable. And definitely, appreciation for your energy!

  17. rakesh saini hindi film maker February 12, 2015 at 11:17 pm ·

    Interesting story about the Guinnes heir. The father must be Tara Browne, the young man who died in the car crash, and (legend has it) inspired ‘A Day in the Life’. Keith Richards named his first born after Tara Browne (and the man is not easily won-over). Sounds like Tara endeared himself to others much like Scott’s friend in Rome.

  18. Hot Escort Agency Bangalore April 1, 2015 at 11:41 am ·

    Our elite female escorts service in Bangalore, Bangalore escort girls understand that given services requires high values and maturity. Our rates are always checked to make sure. We are the most reasonable Bangalore escort agency.

  19. High Profile Escort Agency Bangalore April 3, 2015 at 6:08 pm ·

    Our independent escorts service is the service of unbeatable beauty and discretion a difference female bangalore escort. Our clients believes on us just because of the excellent services provide by us with 100% satisfaction. We also serve the High class society people where maturity is must. Our high profile escorts will 100% cares about you and your satisfaction You must also ensure that the photos of the girls that you see online are recent and genuine. Our escorts are truly one of a kind each one is educated, a good conversationalist, sophisticated and charming, so you are not embarrassed to go out with them to a formal function.

  20. google April 27, 2015 at 11:37 pm ·

    Google Associate Network Blog site – Information,
    sights as well as product details for Google
    member network advertisers as well as authors.

  21. health April 28, 2015 at 8:02 pm ·

    What’s up colleagues, fastidious piece of writing and good arguments commented here, I
    am actually enjoying by these.

  22. http://freegemsonclashofclans.net/ May 23, 2015 at 7:45 am ·

    This article will provide the information you need to
    know. Growing your Yakuza family is much simpler than in other Facebook games.
    You should take a break every half hour if you are really into playing
    the video game.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. My journey through the Geek Nation – II | Critical Twenties
  2. My journey through the Geek Nation – III | Critical Twenties

Comments are now closed for this article.