Science for Building Nation

10th Zuckerman Lecture

Nation Building through Science & Technology A Developing World Perspective


Dr. R.A. Mashelkar Director General Council of Scientific and Industrial Research New Delhi 110 001

11 June 2003 Royal Society, London



I feel truly privileged to stand before you this evening. The invitation to deliver the 10th Zuckerman Lecture is one of the greatest honours of my life. I want to thank the Office of Science and Technology and Lord Sainbury for doing me this honour. It is also a very special privilege to pay a tribute through this lecture to Lord Zuckerman, who was one of the most distinguished scientists of the 20th Century. He left such a huge imprint on science in this great nation. I feel overwhelmed when I look at my nine predecessors; all of them were men of such great eminence. I must also add that last year, when I was sitting in the audience in the front row listening to Sir David King, who gave the 9th Zuckerman Lecture, little did I realise that we would be swapping places this evening! Sir David's brilliant and stimulating lecture is still very vivid in my memory. He brought such a wonderful new perspective to this vital issue of science of the climate change. His will be a very hard act to follow but I'll do my very best. I do hope my best will be good enough for this evening.


The topic that I have chosen for the tenth Zuckerman Lecture is 'Nation Building through Science & Technology: A Developing World Perspective'. I come from a developing country, namely India. India’s civilization is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. It has had very rich traditions of science and technology. Science in India was always very closely intertwined with culture and philosophy. It was also tempered with very unusual wisdom. India’s contributions to astronomy, to mathematics, to medicine etc. in the millennia gone by have been truly phenomenal.


Today we look at the modern India that was built after...