‘Not out of Greece’
I am astounded at the blinkered views expressed by C K Raju in his article [Not out of Greece] published in the 28th December 2014–3rd January 20115 [Vol 47, No 25] issue of Frontier. Mr Raju rejects the contribution of Greek civilization in Science. Now-a-days historians of science call the Greek civilization as Mediterranean civilization. Because, contribution in science came from scientists from many islands around Mediterranean ocean. He says that "Western history of science.... attributes all discoveries in science to Christians and "friends"-the early Greeks."
1. Joseph Needham a western historian of science. Did he not write many volumes on Chinese contribution in science & technology in his magnum opus "Science & Civilization of China"? Greek contribution in science eclipsed by 3rd century AD. It was only in the 4th Century AD that Christianity became state religion of Roman Empire.. How can early Greeks be friends of Christians? Rather they were enemies. The famous Alexandrian Library & Museum was attacked by a Christian mob led by Bishop of Alexandria, Cyril In AD 415 who championed orthodoxy against those he considered Christian heretics.
2. How was the Mediterranean Knowledge preserved? When the Alexandrian library & Museum was being attacked the Nestorian Christians, a heretic Eastern sect, gradually shifted with Mediterranean scientific manuscripts to a college at Edessa, a Greco- Roman city in the south of Turkey. Nestorians started translation of Mediterranean manuscripts into Syriac which by that time had replaced Greek as the official language of the region. When Edessa was closed in AD 489 some Nestorians moved with manuscripts to the great Iranian intellectual centre at Jundishapur in Eastern Persia.
3. Mohammed was born in AD 571 & died in AD 632. After his death Islam spread to a large area from Central Asia to Spain. Arabic scholars started translating the Mediterranean & Eastern manuscripts into Arabic. Gradually, huge libraries sprang up in different Islamic regions at Toledo, Granada, Cordoba in Spain, Salerno, Cairo, Bagdad etc. Fatemite library in Cairo had 100,000 elegantly bound manuscripts of which 6500 manuscripts were on astronomy & medicine. Indian Pandit went to the Caliphate of al Mansur at Bagdad in the AD 8th Century and presented Brahmasphuta Sidhanta of Brahmagupta. It was translated as al Sind Hind by al Fazari. Reign of al Mamun is known as the golden age of Islam. Great scientists of different religious faith worked at Bayt al Hikma (House of Wisdom) set up by him. Islam preserved with sedulous care the Mediterranean & Eastern knowledge & advanced it.
4. In AD 3rd Century Roman empire was divided into Western Roman empire with the capital at Rome & Eastern Roman empire with capital at Constantinople (Istanbul). Western Roman Empire eclipsed in Ad 5th Century. But Eastern empire continued for 1000 years more when it was conquered by Ottoman Turks. When Northern Spain came under the control of the Christians a host of scholars from newly formed universities of Europe discovered the huge libraries of Islam. By AD 10th Century peace started descending in Europe. Paris University was formed in AD 1170. Oxford, a little later. Scholars from these universities started translating the Arabic other manuscripts in Latin.
Euro vision of origin of science has long been discarded. Martin Bernal in his seminal work, ‘‘Black Athena’’ has shown the indebtedness of Greece to Egyptian-Babylonian civilizations.
Samar Bagchi, Kolkata
Sharad Yadav's comments that Padma-awards are given only to 'dishonest' persons should be taken seriously especially because of two reasons. Firstly that such comment is coming from a person honoured as 'Best Parliamentarian' by none other than President of India. Secondly since Padma-awards are also given in name of President of India, any such comments adversely affect prestige of head of the nation apart from those honoured with Padma-awards.
Such sweeping comments that all Padma awardees are 'dishonest' are undoubtedly improper. However it also remains a bitter fact that selection-process of Padma-awardees is totally unfair. and this is why Supreme Court once intervened in selection-process of Padma awardees and as such these awards could not be given for several years. Formality of fulfilling guidelines set by Supreme Court makes selection-process of Padma-awards unfair even presently. There toive been occasions when just on eve of Republic Day, formality of taking consent of Awards-committee is fulfilled by taking ‘telephonic-consents’ of individual members of Awards-committee. Strong strictures in media including social media made against Awards-comrnittves might be reason that once several eminent personalities declined to be members of this formality-fulfilling Awards-committee. Many selected once declined to accept the honour. Political requirements and favoritism of political rulers were reflected in Padma awards for the year 2015 also when honouring Prakash Singh Badal with Padma Vibhushan on eve of forthcoming elections to Delhi state-assembly reminded of Bharat Ratna to MG Ramchandran by the then Rajiv Gandhi government!
It is improper to grade just about 100 Padma awardees in three variants in a country of more limn a billion thereby degrading real value of 'Padmashree' in presence of 'Padmabhushan' and 'Padmavibhushan'. There should be just one variant of 'Padma' award, A person should be honoured just once in life-lime with any of the variant of Padma award. Also an individual should be permitted for nominating just one person for the prestigious honours. Many politicians in their please-all policy recommend dozens of names unnecessarily burdening the selection-procedure. Website of Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) should put details of total recommendations received with name of recommending ones, members of Awards and Search committees and their minutes of meetings simultaneously with list of persons selected for Padma awards on 25th January itself rather than putting these details later.
Consent of Opposition Leader in selecting members of Awards Committee should be must with Secretary of Opposition Leader being a member of Awards Committee. Many controversial persons including with criminal charges and willful bank-defaulters have been honoured with Padma awards only because of lobbying and otherwise. System should be made stringent to take back the prestigious award from controversial ones and punishing those responsible at inlelligence agencies which clear undeserving names without proper investigation.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Vol. 47, No. 42, Apr 26 - May 2, 2015