For the past couple of months, I have been hearing the words; ‘anti-national’, ‘taxpayers’ money’ and ‘research scholars’ in the same sentence almost every day. Each time I log on to my Facebook, I am tempted to tell some blind and proud extremist that ‘nationalism’ isn’t synonymous with ‘patriotism’ and that the term ‘nationalism’ is a very negative word which has more to do with hatred for other nations than the love for one’s own. But then, one can’t expect such a complicated definition to make sense to the herd that idolizes organisms (I won’t waste the word ‘hypocrite’ on him!) like Chetan Bhagat who portrays India as a famine-struck, stinking, under-developed, superstitious land full of horny women and pervert men in his toilet paper sets that some like to call books and then goes on to tweet his sanghi-ist remarks with the hope/delusion of being on the winning side. If I tell them that I prefer using ‘patriotism’ instead of ‘nationalism’, I might be labeled an ‘anti-national’ because it seems there are a bunch of assholes who decide who should love the nation, how and how much (that line was inspired from Arundhati Roy’s book. I would never be involved in plagiarism, like some ‘big shots’ out there). But what saddens me and annoys me to the point of reacting is the fact that a majority of the so-called
‘educated’ ‘literate’ class of Indians think research scholars are being paid for doing nothing. I have often heard statements like, ‘You anti-nationals are studying with the taxpayers’ money’. Sorry, but they aren’t ‘studying’. They are researching and research is ‘work’. Their only mistake is that they are doing it in a place where it is not even considered work. Researchers are not ‘privileged’. They have earned their scholarship. 20k rupees is a small ‘thank you’ note from the government in return for their research that would benefit the country in the long run and save the common people from the ‘brain drain’ rant.
We are so proud of being a democracy. But it would have remained an idea if not for the research of Plato. By the way, his academy was shut down because…well…it offended ‘religion’. Socrates, whose contribution to philosophy and ethics remains unmatched, was accused of ‘corrupting the youth’ and was put to death. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Darwin’s Origin of Species is a topic of debate between theists and atheists till date, the former accusing it of being an abomination. Oops! I’m such an ‘anti-national’, glorifying Greek and British philosophers and scientists. Well, the fate of Aryabhata (yes, the one ‘nationals’ seem to be so proud of) was no different. His research and the results offended the religious sentiments and the great mind was forced to disappear for his own safety.
The point is, good researchers have always been persecuted by political and religious groups. But then, the persecutors are known as a group that was dumb and extremist enough to torture/kill a great mind, but the researcher is immortal in the hearts of wise and dumb minds alike. Does anybody know the names of the judges who were present during the trial of Socrates? Exactly! They were just insignificant, insecure whiners who were afraid of ‘progress’ or any sort of change from their Bronze Age ideals. Pretty much like the whiners who feel good about calling research scholars ‘beggars’ and ‘terrorists’. But what they don’t understand, and never will, is the fact that each action of theirs in the present age is possible because of a researcher’s tireless efforts decades or centuries ago.
When calling a researcher a ‘beggar’ on social media, you are actually indirectly thanking a researcher for giving the world the internet and the devices which help you use it. When you boast of the supremacy of ‘culture’ and ‘religion’, you better thank the many researchers who spent their days and nights in bringing these stone-age mythologies and ruined evidences of a dead heritage back to life. When you talk about ‘Chandrayaans’, you better thank the researcher who made the nation proud. Thank a researcher the next time you take a medicine, because if not for the research your illness would have been labelled a possession or a ‘will of god’ and you’d have been left to rot and die. Remember to thank a researcher when you flush your toilet in the morning. Thank a researcher when you turn on the fan on a very hot day. Thank a researcher when you see a dyslexic child beaming with joy at his/her first word. Thank a researcher when a 50 year old gets cured of cancer and starts ‘living’ for the first time. Thank a researcher for the machine guns, submarines and helicopters… In fact, thank them anyway, because the world around is what it is today because a bunch of people were curious and imaginative and worked on making their dreams come true for the benefit of others.