ndia, which will celebrate its
centenary of Independence in
2047, faces many challenges in
the area of science and technology.
The most important one is
that there are not sufficient numbers of outstanding institutions
which can accommodate good
scientists. Even if we produce a
large number of outstanding scientists, we do not have places for
them to work.
Many bright young Indian sci-
entists returning from the U.S.
face this difficulty. There are a
few IITs and IISERs but they can
only recruit a certain number of
people. It is important to upgrade
the quality of institutions so that
good people can do competitive
work in these institutions. It
would be necessary not to curtail
expansion of facilities in good
Recruitment in state universi-
ties and some other institutions
is not straightforward, and fund-
ing for science has been margin-
al. Although our governments
have been promising that they
will increase the support for sci-
ence and technology to 2 percent
of the GDP, it is not happening.
Today, it is less than 1 percent.
Most funds for science are
used up by mission-oriented
organizations. There is little
money for small science. It is
small science, according to me,
that pushes science forward and
serves society. There has been
major funding from certain mis-
sions, such as the Nanomission
and from DST/DBT, but that is
just not sufficient to take up
important problems or to
upgrade the quality of facilities in
most of our research laboratories.
When IIT Kanpur was estab-
lished, I worked closely with
USAID and other U.S. institu-
tions. Today I am afraid that
there is little active cooperation
and collaboration between India
and the U.S. What happens under
formal programs is too little and
does not make any impact on sci-
ence. Informally, however, a
y best wishes to desis
around the world on the
70th anniversary of India’s independence. The greatness of India
lives in its sons and daughters,
many of whom have traveled
around the globe and became
part of one of the largest global
diasporas in history.
As an Indian-American, I had
often wondered if my two children would be desi, since their
lives were not entirely represent-ed in the language they spoke or
the food they ate on a daily basis.
Years later, this question would
be answered when I took Krishan
and Nina to the birthplace of my
father, Dr. Surendra Chaudhary.
In 2014, I returned with my par-
ents to the small, agrarian com-
munity in Uttar Pradesh, and the
fertile fields that had given my
father the economic opportunity
to pursue an education.
With family surrounding us,
we gave thanks to the bounty of
the earth and all it has given to
us with a simple pooja on fields
that bore ripe green sugar cane
stalks. After just a few minutes,
Krishan and Nina were immedi-
ately immersed in the beauty of
the Indian countryside and the
special kinship with the cousins
they had met for the first time. I
couldn’t help but notice the com-
fort and joy of my children as
they shared a strong bond with
their cousins — as if they were
born there and had never left. It
was then that I realized that the
gift of Mother India to my chil-
dren transcends cultural arti-
facts. It is in their collective
humanity, kindness, and love,
that I see my children’s desi roots
shine the brightest. They are like
me, American and desi.
Today, I can sit with fellow
Indian-Americans in the halls of
the U.S. Congress and discuss
how the next spaceport will take
humanity to the heavens or
explain the journey through the
mathematics of Sri Ramanujan.
The works of Thoreau, Einstein,
and Schrödinger, just to name a
few, represent what Mother India
has influenced and given our
Steve Jobs once explained that
human rationality is not innate
but born from the kind of intuition found in the villages of
India. It is there that one can
observe the power of experiential
wisdom that India has given the
world. This type of knowledge,
the kind that upends the status
quo and advances the human
condition, was not born at my
alma mater, the U.S. Air Force
Academy, an Ivy League medical
degree, or for that matter any formal institute of higher learning.
It was born in a small agrarian
village in India, where gratitude
and humility for the earth’s
bounty gave my parents the
courage to pursue their dreams.
We owe everything to the earth
— that’s what Mother India has
delivered to our world through
its sons and daughters, and she is
just getting started.
That’s why I can’t help but feel
optimistic for the future of U.S.
and India relations over the next
30 years at the centenary of
India’s independence. Our common pursuit of the fundamental
values of freedom, peace, and
goodwill will continue to bring
out the best in our two nations.
In particular, it is the bond
between our people that will
guide this success, and allow our
nations to prosper together.
— As told to Aziz Haniffa in
India’s Villages Will Always Hold
Though we travel into space, the land will yield much to world
Gifts of Experiential Wisdom
Retired USAF Lt. Col. Ravi
Chaudhary, a Minnesota native,
was the highest-ranking and
in the U.S. Air Force.
He is now a senior official with the
Federal Aviation Administration.
C.N.R. Rao, 2013 Bharat Ratna
Science Must Work Harder to Burnish
India’s Status by 2047
Nation needs more venues to harness competitive, outstanding talent
Continued on page 34
INDIA ABROAD August 25, 2017 31 COVER STORY