Almost one in five of all medical and dental staff in the UK is of Indian origin, and one in six employed scientists with science or engineering doctorates in the US is Asian. By the turn of the millennium, there were even claims that a third of all engineers in Silicon Valley were of Indian origin, with Indians running of its tech companies. Angela Saini explains how ancient science is giving way to new, and how the technology of the wealthy are passing on to the poor. Through witty first-hand reportage and penetrative analysis, Geek Nation explains what this means for the rest of the world, and how a spiritual nation squares its soul with hard rationality. Full of curious, colourful characters and gripping stories, it describes India through its people - a nation of geeks. Read More Read Less Praise for Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking Over the World This is an engaging and eye-opening exploration of a subject that traditionally we rely on cliches to understand, providing a much more informed and effective understanding of the progress of Indian technology.

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India is already known for call centers, IT development, and expatriate coders. Geek Nation is being released in the U. I was the geeky Indian kid in my class. My dad is a geek, many of my cousins are geeks, and more generally, India is famous for producing doctors, university professors, and engineers who work all over the world. India itself is not a world leader in science and technology yet but it does have a culture that strongly favors these things, above anything else.

So Geek Nation was my journey to figure out why, and also where that ambition is taking it. I have to admit, as a science journalist, I started out with a big measure of skepticism—I mean, India has a weak scientific publication record compared to the U.

I think the rest of the world underestimates just what hundreds of thousands of committed young scientists and engineers can achieve. Then again, President Obama gets it. If you look at his speeches on science and education, he often mentions the growth of India as one reason that the U. What was the most surprising thing you uncovered while researching your book?

I traveled the length of India, north to south, and met such fascinating characters. What impressed me most is that so many Indian researchers have such a social aspect to their work. One interviewee, Sujatha Narayanan , was a tuberculosis researcher I met in Chennai. One day she found some TB bacteria in a tube that had been in her throat, which meant she may have accidentally infected herself. She had to undertake a grueling drug treatment for months, which she believes triggered her diabetes.

She put her life on the line for her work, but it has not diminished her passion or her commitment to science. Are they a major factor? Not only are they bringing their expertise and experience, but they are also bringing the culture of places like Silicon Valley. In Bangalore these days there are meetups and cool conferences for young techies and designers, just like you get in San Francisco. I think similar stirrings are happening in India now.

There are shoots of creativity all over the country, particularly in areas like biotechnology, life sciences, and computing. You wrote about jugaad—the power of improvising to solve problems—in a recent article. But yeah, I wrote an article about it recently, because it is such a fascinating phenomenon.

Jugaad is a very broad-brush word, meaning something like getting things done by hook or by crook. So for example, in rural areas, people will throw together tractor engines and bits of wood to make trucks, and in the urban slums, people will recycle old newspapers and rework appliances to make new ones.

It certainly wants to, but I have a feeling it may come from the younger generation, which is more free in its thinking and creative. This interview has been condensed and edited for length and readability.


Geek Nation : How Indian Science is Taking Over the World

Not only is it a rich and fascinating account of the progress of Indian science in many fields and of the conflict between science, modernity and traditional society. It is a sort of road movie as Angela travels India seeking out the truth, very much like a Raymond Chandler private eye. She has the same sometimes dark, ironic sense of humour, particularly when confronted by some evidence-free assertions on the certainty of some far-out scientific hypothesis being true, or that the Vedas show that ancient Indians flew around in early far from aerodynamic aircraft. But I never sense any condescension in her stance. She has an open mind and a great sense of curiosity, which she follows all over India into biology, genetics, IT, nuclear power, agriculture, wherever the thread leads her. She also catches what is unique about the sheer size of Geek Nation.


Angela Saini



Geek nation : how Indian science is taking over the world





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