“For 1400 years India and China led the world in science and technology”

A Conversation with Roddam Narasimha

Prof Roddam Narasimha, FRS, is a distinguished aerospace scientist, and among the first few Indian engineers to be elected to several leading international academies like the Royal Society, the US National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has contributed enormously to the development of aeronautical and space sciences in India. He is presently at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore. One of his current areas of research is the study of cloud evolution and dynamics, a subject of great relevance to the Indian monsoons and global climate change. He has written several papers and articles on how ancient Indians ‘thought’ science. These are excerpts of a conversation between Shivanand Kanavi and Roddam Narasimha.

Fascinating but Neglected Caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri

Rock cut caves and sculptures have always fascinated me. This time, during my trip to Bhubaneswar, I made it a point to keep some time apart for a visit to the famed Udayagiri caves. While the main motivation for the visit was to appreciate the history and architecture of the cave, I also wanted to compare these rock cut caves with the cave temples of Mahabalipuram. True, it was unfair to compare these two great monolithic marvels built centuries apart – the former about 2200 years back and the latter about 1300 years back. But antiquity has its own charm and oddities.

In My Soul

In my soul
there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church
where I kneel.

Women Sufis of Delhi (Sadia Dehlvi profiles some of the early women Sufis of Delhi)

One of my favourite verses of the Quran is Surah Al Azhab which makes it clear that spiritual blessings are intended for both righteous men and women who are equal in the eyes of God. The woman “auliya" meaning friend of God appeared in the early history of Islam and the dignity of sainthood was conferred on women as much as men.

Time to Re-Assess Indigenous Knowledge of Agriculture

By Dr Claude Alvares (Lecture for the National Conference on Innovation in Traditional Practices for Cultivation of Fruit, Vegetable, and Plantation Crops held at ICAR, Goa, on December 11-12, 2014)

The undoubted and perhaps unintended – or unforeseen – ill-effects associated with the conventional green revolution package of practices has compelled both farmers and governments to look more favourably at organic farming, which appears unassociated with any of these deadly impacts.