And now one hears that the Indian scientific establishment is livid over the visa issue of senior scientist Dr. Goverdhan Mehta. The Indian scientific community is fuming over the impolite questions that they are asked and so on and so forth.
I can quite appreciate the anger and indignation welling up inside these senior scientists after having gone through an inquisition by these modern day nabobs. Nabobs who would probably have emanated from some marshy boondocks in the US of A and now consider it their duty to be rude towards the "natives".
The anger one feels is obviously justified.
Moreover I feel so long as we line up outside American consular offices in India in our hundreds the Americans will continue to be cocky and arrogant. Does the Mongolian Consular official behave so rudely? Not that I know of. And that is simply because not too many of us are waiting outside his doorstep, spreading newspapers and spending the night on the footpath in a disciplined line, waiting for an appointment at 1.00 pm the following day.
Dr. Mehta called his Visa interview process, "the most degrading experience of my life." Now that the US consulate has given him the visa and the American ambassador has apologized, the good doctor seems assuaged. He however has made it quite clear that he will not visit the US. For Now.
Eh? What was that?
Dr. Mehta has made it very clear that he will not attend this assignment. Of course he also said, "I am not saying I will never go to that country. I might, if I am given an invitation and visa."
So inspite of the outrage I feel at the despicable behaviour of the consular staff I would much rather train my ammunition on our venerable scientists.
Why do they want to go to the US?
If it is for the first two reasons, sorry guys but then if that is the case you just have got to lump their bad behaviour.
If it is for exchange of information, augmenting your knowledge etc. great, one appreciates the effort but have you guys not heard of the Internet? Email? Video Conferencing? These are tools that can be used to keep in touch with the scientific community overseas without having to set foot in any miserable American consular office.
Or has the Net revolution so completely bypassed you folks that you are not even aware of these basic things? Or am I being too naïve in assuming that exchange of scientific ideas can be done via the Internet?
A couple of centuries ago when the US of A was still a nascent country and the Americans were all in awe of Europe, the American poet philosopher Emerson lamented, " Can we not extract this tape-worm of Europe from the brain of our countrymen?"
They finally did extract the tapeworm. And how did they do that? Simply by becoming the most powerful country in the world. That is how we need to tackle the issue too.
At the risk of sounding didactic the only way we will gain respect in the world is when India becomes powerful, economically and militarily. We will not gain respect if we continue to play the role of a supplicant.
But are our scientists listening? Or are they busy planning their next trip to the US?