Reimagining ‘Make in India’: lessons from G. Suryan’s NMR research

The present paper by sociologist Amit Prasad emphasizes the necessity to document particular trajectories of scientific practices and their multi-level entanglements, both nationally and internationally. In the absence of such data, policy initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ can hardly be effective.

In particular, this paper focuses upon the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) research of G. Suryan and its relationship with other NMR researches in India and abroad. It uses this case study to highlight how even when innovative techno-scientific trajectories emerge – which are internationally acknowledged and utilized – they often remain disconnected trails within India.

Historians and sociologists rarely document such researches, possibly because none of the NMR researchers in India have received any major awards nationally or internationally. There is, for example, apart from a short description of NMR research in the literature, little discussion on the history of NMR in India. Such historiographic elisions are also reflective of exclusions of Indian scientists as a result of Euro/West centrism.

The Encyclopedia of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, for example, has biographical essays by most major NMR researchers from across the world. However, there is no such essay from any Indian scientist. There could have been a biographical essay by Suryan, for example, who was alive when the Encyclopedia was published, and his contribution to NMR research definitely merited such an inclusion. Through a focus on the work of Suryan, the author argues that we excavate particular trajectories of scientific practice (not just through bibliometric and scientiometric analyses) in order to highlight and figure out how we can prevent scientific researches in India from remaining disconnected trails, which can go a long way in making ‘Make in India’ successful.

Read the full article in Current Science