List of Speakers

Anil Agarwal, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi.
Current Water Crisis and the Relevance of Traditional Water Management Systems.

Nirmal Sengupta, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Madras.
Traditional Water Management Systems: Primitive of Precious?

Ramesh Nanal, Ayurvedic Vaidya, Bombay.
Indigenous Medical Heritage: Current Relevance and Future Potential.

Anil Gupta, Centre for Management of Agriculture, Indian Institute, of Management,
Learning from Farmers Wisdom.

L.C.Jain, New Delhi.
Indian Textile Industry Since Independence: policies, Trends and Future Prospects.

Sunil Sahasrabuddhey, Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi.
"Science and Society: The Unfolding Issues Beginning from the European invasion of India.

P.K.Mukhopadhyay, Department of Philosophy, Jadavpur University, Calcutta.
Recent Advances ln Revitalization of Theoretical Sciences of India.

S.R.Rao, Adviser, National Institute!of Oceanography, Goa
From Indus Valley to Rig Veda: Lessons from Science and Technology Tradition.

S.Bannerjee, Director, Steel Authority of India- Limited-(R&D),-Ranchi
Metals-Industry of Ancient India and its Relevance the Present Context.

Ganapathi Sthapathi Director Vastu. Vedic Research Foundation, Madras.
Scale: An important Aspect of Design and a Significant Aspect of Spiritual Architecture.

Madhav Gargil Centre for Environmental Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
Fork Traditions in Management of Forest Resources.

Anil Date, Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology,

Traditional Industry - What Can We Make of It?


Science and Society

Sunii Sahasrabudhey, Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi, gave a plenary address on the Social sciences theme, and spoke on "Science and Society: The Unfolding Issues Beginning from the European Invasion of India". He said that we have to return to the first principles, rejecting ideas of modern thought, for understanding the pre-British Indian society. We understand very little of that society. It was an entirely different kind of society and its thinking is mostly unfamiliar to us. We must learn to appreciate this point today.

In recent years, there has been an extensive study on Chengalpet area of the Eighteenth century (undertaken by PPST Foundation some six years ago, based on a comprehensive survey done by the British). This study throws interesting light on the fiscal structure and functioning of our society prevalent those days. According to this, less than 20% of the revenue went to the central exchequer. The rest remained at the local level and was allotted to different type of community activities. It is absurd to speak of "Asiatic despotism" in such a revenue system. The society had structured its financial initiative in a complex way. That the state then was not just a "law-and-order" state is obvious from the revenue system which is extensively documented in the Chengalpet Survey data. Such a power distribution is one of the many such unmistakable indicators of the existence of a different type of society.

The structures of organization of any society are isomorphic with the structure of sciences and technologies of that society. The logic of sciences and technologies has to be the same as that of the society if the sciences and technologies are to be functional. Hence we cannot hope to have that, science and technology with the present society without bringing into existence a society like the one which supported traditional sciences and technologies. There are two approaches to look at traditional sciences and technologies: (1) One is to merely look , at technical side of sciences and technologies. That would imply that we look at traditional society as rituals. (2) Other is to look at social side of sciences and technologies.

Theoretical Sciences

Prof.P.K.Mukhopadhyaya, Dept of Philosophy "Jadavpur University, Calcutta delivered the Plenary Address for the Theoretical Science theme of the Congress on "Advances in Revitalization of Theoretical Sciences of India". He said that the long overdue process of revitalization of theoretical tradition has been delayed and is yet to attract wide attention due to certain prevalent misconceptions. One of the misconceptions is that the Traditional thought of India is a matter of the past. This is simply due.-to ignorance that the tradition is alive among living practitioners..On the other hand, a claim is made that sciences are universal. Yet, the Indian sciences are not taken as universal but a matter of past. This is simply an obnoxious logic by which one even refuses to examine traditional theoretical sciences of India. "Traditional knowledge" neither means knowledge systems which, are .not living; nor does it mean knowledge systems which are not universal.

In recent years there has been substantial advancement in examining, understanding and promoting traditional theoretical knowledge in four areas: (1) Indian Linguistics: the result obtained after .the study of Paninian Vyakarana shows that in theory as well as in applications it is stronger than the contemporary European linguistics. It makes possible universally strong programme of computational linguistics of Indian language. (2) Indian Mathematics: we now have a better understanding of the Indian notion of 'proof. Many texts have been discovered and edited from which mathematical claims regarding optimal algorithms; mathematical ideas and methodology have been recently made. (3) In the area of Cognitive Science and Epistemology an in depth study of methodological foundation of sastras like Ayurveda has been, undertaken. Similarly, the concept of cognition in accordance with Nyaya and other Dansanas have been understood. (4) Similarly, new insights have been gained in the area of philosophy of language in the Indian as well as international context

Indus Valley to Rgveda

Prof.S.R.Rao, of National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, gave a Plenary Address on "Indus Valley to Rgveda : Lessons from Science and Technology Tradition". Four thousand year ago the Indus people had understood the importance of decimal calculations. We also find in Indus Valley civilization a tremendous amount of urban discipline. The people of that civilization had a high civic sense. Thirdly, the standardization of goods and services was realized by them. Weights and measures were uniform throughout the vast extent of the civilization. The social stratification was minimum. Their technology of bread-making out of semi-precious stone is still alive today. Their way of extraction of copper ore was also commendable.

Folk Traditions in the Management of Forest Resource

In his Plenary Address pertaining to the theme of Forestry, Prof. Madhav Gadgil, Centre for Environment/ Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, on "Folk Traditions in Management of Forest Resources", pointed out that the claim of modem management approach in our country is that the resource management is based on empirical sciences. This, he said, is a false claim. It has been proved on several occasions that the projections of the' modem resource management approaches about the stock of resources do not have any bearing on the rate at which the resources are exploited. The resource depletion occurred much before the projected dates. Modem science of resource management only legitimized excessive exploitations' of resources on the basis of sheer profit calculations. The gap between the projected stock and actual stock is due to lack of micro level understanding of the complex processes of interactions that occur in the ecosystem. The knowledge about micro level process may only be gained [from the local communities which have been monitoring the resource position from close quarters. Prof.Gadgil divided societies in contemporary world into two types: (a) Society of ecosystem-dependent people and (b) Society of bio-sphere dependent people. The former society tends to use resources on a sustainable basis. Whereas, biosphere dependent society constantly moves in search of resources by exploiting them one region after another without any consideration of sustainability. He illustrated this by giving example of paper plywood industry which exploited bamboo from different regions.

The logic of bio-sphere dependent society is hot the production of a particular product on a sustainable basis but generation of profits on an ever-increasing scale, no matter what the productivity. In the eco-system dependent society there are several cultural practices and norms which restrain over-exploitation of resources. Bio-sphere dependent societies which depend on modem science and technology have succeeded in understanding by modeling macro processes but have failed to understand micro level complex processes over time. He suggested some practices to achieve sustainable resource exploitation such as (1) A portion of the resource stock should be left untouched. (2) The knowledge available with the local communities of the resources position over time must be tapped. (3) The local communities can monitor the details of resource position from close quarters since they have informal information about history of resource-base. (4) Today scientists do not play any role in managing resources at local level because they do not have full information. The knowledge of folk society and scientific knowledge must be interpreted in order to maintain sustainable resource utilization.

A Practitioner of the Ancient Tradition of Temple Architecture: Shri.V.Ganapathi Sthapati

Shri.V.Ganapathl Sthapati comes from a family of distinguished temple builders and scholars. The family traces its ancestry back to Raja Raja Peruntachan who built the Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple. Unlike his father Shri.Sthapati is also educated with a B.A degree in Mathematics. He has contributed, a great deal to the tradition, as well as to the contemporary educational system. He was the principal of the Mahabalipuram College of Sculpture and Temple Architecture for over twenty five years. He has evolved a most effective syllabus through which young students would be imparted the traditional knowledge in a short space of time. Many of his students are involved in teaching and propagating the learning in various parts of the world. He has won several National and State Awards namely the Tulsi Samman, Vastu Vigyani and others. He has been involved in many prestigious projects such as the construction of the administrative and library buildings in the Thanjavur Tamil University. He is at present involved in a major project of designing and executing a 133 ft. high statue of Kanyakumari as well as a stone temple in Hawaii, in the last couple of years Shri.Sthapati has been involved in research on the architectural tradition of India. He is the founder of the Vastu Vedic Research Foundation, which is publishing books based on the Vastu parampara. He was the resource person for the film "A Shilpi Speaks" which won the National Award in 1992.

Shri.Sthapati in his presentation recalled his experience as a creative sculptor and the inspiration that the ancient Indian wisdom codified in the Vedas and Upanishads gave him in accomplishing his creative work. There are two basic shastras - Vastu Shastra and Vaastu Shastra from which we can derive concepts of space and time unique to the Indian tradition.

Metals Industry of Ancient India

Dr.S.Banerjee of SAIL in his plenary talk on-"Metal Industry of Ancient India and its Relevance in the Present Context", gave an overview of the evolution of metallurgy in India through the ages as indicated by the archaeological evidence at different places. Gold and silver found at the Indus valley Bronze at Takshasila and the Delhi pillar built in 300 AD indicate the sophistication in the "development of metallurgy. He pointed out that today the metallurgy industry is in a different-state. Unlike in the ancient period, where the production of metals and metal alloys was decentralized, client-specific and need-based; today Iron and Steel industry requires large-scale investment for mass production for the market. It also has a long gestation period. Because of these features, technological innovation in steel industry is father infrequent. In our country, steel industry should develop linkages with customers, maintain quality 'reduce' costs and - produce on the basis of need.

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