What they said on science in Soviet Russia

Print edition : December 22, 2017

Tagore, in “Letters from Russia”:

“In Russia, finally. What I see, bewilders me. Not like any other country. The difference is in the roots. They have awakened all the people in the land...

“What impresses me most here is that vulgarity of wealth has completely vanished. For this reason alone, a sense of confidence seems to be universal in the country’s citizens. The peasant and the marginalised have now thrown away the indignity in which they had earlier lived. This is what surprises me and also gives me happiness….”

(Translation from Bengali, mine.)

Tagore, in “Paroshye” (in Persia):

“... But do you also see what is happening in another obscure corner of the world? In a very short time the Soviet government has ushered in a new life amongst the nomadic tribes of the Soviet Turkmenistan. It really fills me with bewilderment. And how rapidly did they succeed in bringing this enlightenment and self-reliance amongst these people? The cause of their success lies in the fact that the Soviet government is committed to this goal. These fragmented human races, living in the desert land, are now given the right to self-determination and the right to form their own republics. Moreover the plan to spread education amongst this population is really bewildering in its depth and the immensity of its sweep. As I have said before, there is now no interracial violence anywhere in the Soviet Republic. In Czar’s time these were very frequent. A healthy mind unites man to man. This process has its beginning in education and in freedom. These are now flowing as torrents in this land of Asia.... ”

(Translation from Bengali, mine.)

Bernal on Soviet science:

“The qualitative characteristic of the work is chiefly its originality, particularly in the choice of problems, and this can be put down directly to the new trend towards choosing problems connected with experience. Soviet science is able to pick up and illuminate aspects of common experience which have never been touched by science before, not because they were difficult or obscure but because they lay outside the conventional tradition of science.” ( Bernal, J.D. (1939): The Social Function of Science”.)

Indo-Soviet collaboration in Space:

U.R. Rao, former Chairman of India’s Department of Space, writes: “Both the Indian and Soviet sides agreed to target the launch of India’s first satellite by the end of 1974. The Indian side took the total responsibility for the detailed design, fabrication, preparation and testing of the main satellite and its subsystems as well as the scientific experiments. The Soviet side, at our request, agreed to provide, free of cost, solar panels, battery, tape recorder and a cold-gas control system with six high-pressure nitrogen-filled tanks....” ((2014): India’s Rise as a Space Power”, Foundation Books.)

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