Among the many vociferous and emotional debates that India is currently going through on various deeply-civilizational questions (nation, religion, freedom etc.), there is also a rather specialized one on the value (or otherwise) of ancient to pre-colonial Indic science and technology as well. This lecture will be a critical analysis of the evidently chequered histories of science in both India and Europe – alternating between dark ages and shining eras. These periods have, in both East and West, led at different times to the creation of false or mythical stories as well as of great triumphs. To illustrate this idea, the lecture will narrate four episodes where the historical position seems clear now, but popular (and sometimes even otherwise well-informed) opinion mixes the two categories in an unfortunately indiscriminate way. But, between the current poles of false glorification on the one hand and complete disdain on the other, we badly need the growth of a critical middle that, at the present time, can only emerge from the work of interested scientists.
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