Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Silicon Subcontinent 

If you're wondering what exactly it will cost us, in terms of global preeminence, to subordinate science to religion and politics at home while pursuing oil-besotted dreams of empire overseas, then by all means check out New Scientist's special report on India: The Next Knowledge Superpower (some of the articles linked below are subscription-only, but others are not):
There's a revolution afoot in India. Unlike any other developing nation, India is using brainpower rather than cheap physical labour or natural resources to leapfrog into the league of technologically advanced nations. Every high tech company, from Intel to Google, is coming to India to find innovators. Leading the charge is Infosys, the country's first billion-dollar IT company.

But the revolution is not confined to IT. Crop scientists are passionately
pursuing GM crops to help feed India's poor. Some intrepid molecular biologists are pioneering stem-cell cures for blindness, while others have beaten the odds to produce vaccines for pennies.

And the country is getting wired up as never before.
Mobile phone networks have nearly blanketed the country and the internet is even reaching remote villages.

Looking skyward, India's unique
space programme has fought international sanctions to emerge as key player in India's development. Meanwhile, India's nuclear industry is boldly building cutting-edge fast-breeder reactors.

However, there are dramatic problems of poverty and infrastructure. To transform the nation, Indians will have to
change their way of thinking about science and technology, take risks in research, and deal with the issues of education, infrastructure, bureaucracy and corruption.

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