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India had been among the "leaders" in scientific research spanning Mathematics, Medicine, Chemistry and others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science_and_technology_in_the_Indian_subcontinent

Controversial theories of nuclear technology in 1000 BC aside, India's leadership role is true when we talk about the "BC" era and maybe up to 1000 AD.

What went wrong after that? Is the colonization the only reason for India's seeming downfall in scientific advancements?

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The colonization of India only started in the seventeenth century. –  American Luke Jul 6 '12 at 21:23
    
The North was under constant invasion or threat of invasion from 7th Century A.D. to 14th Century A.D. I don't think any civilisation can make progress under those conditions. Can't say much about South India. Looking forward to see a post with sources and credible theories. –  Monster Truck Jul 6 '12 at 22:49
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And I would cast out British colonisation of India as a possible reason. For one, had India been scientifically, militarily, or industrially advanced it would never have been colonised to begin with. –  Monster Truck Jul 6 '12 at 22:50
    
@MonsterTruck Not true at all. India was far richer and at least as scientifically advanced as most European powers at the start of the Age of Discovery. The British successfully colonized India through a long (it took about 90 years, from the 1760s to the 1850s) process involving open warfare and skillful diplomacy, pitting rival kingdoms (of which there were many) against each other. Battles between British and the armies of Indian kings were never as lopsided as, say, those of the Incas or Aztecs vs the conquistadors. –  Jayraj Jul 13 '12 at 0:05
    
@Jayraj While that is true of the period before the Age of Discovery (at least partially true because European scholars and chemists had made remarkable progress in textiles, mathematics, naval navigation, ballistics, and mechanics before the advent of the 18th century) it is certainly not true for the 18th century period you mention --Europe was undergoing the Industrial Revolution by then. While I wouldn't say that things went wrong for India but I would agree with T.E.D. that they actually went right for Europe. –  Monster Truck Jul 15 '12 at 3:32
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Personally, I don't think anything ever went particularly "wrong" with India. They only fell behind the civilizations of Western Europe, not the rest of the world. So the proper question to ask here is what suddenly went right with heretofore backward Europe.

To my mind the answer to this question is clear: The printing press. Nearly overnight Europeans had access to several orders of magnitude more knowledge than they had before (and than anyone still relying on slow, error prone, and expensive hand-copying could possibly have). The discourse this allowed would have had a self-multiplying effect. The difference would be like somebody from the 1800's (or even the 1970's) trying to compete for knowledge with today's internet society. There's just no hope for them, no matter how smart they may be.

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So, Gutenberg made Europe a superpower? Very interesting. –  user1071 Jul 7 '12 at 6:40
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@Inquest - Quite. For more on this, see Hauser's answer to history.stackexchange.com/questions/1030/… . In fact, you may be interested in the entire question. –  T.E.D. Jul 7 '12 at 15:59
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I don't think it can be attributed to a single factor like the printing press. Why not blame it on the ancient Hindu belief that traveling overseas pollutes a person irredeemably, thereby stunting the growth of Indian naval technology and ensuring Europeans came to India rather than vice versa? Or the caste system that ensured that the likelihood of an Indian Gutenberg being born into the correct caste to invent the printing press in India was much lower? I'm not suggesting these seriously, I just think your answer is far too simple... –  Jayraj Jul 13 '12 at 0:13
    
Or that Europeans didn't have anything East Asia wanted (like spices), so East Asians never bothered to try and sail there :P –  Jayraj Jul 13 '12 at 0:14
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@jayraj: "heresy" –  octern Jul 13 '12 at 18:28
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Every culture and civilization goes through ups and downs. To assume that:

  1. There was a homogenous Indian civilization
  2. It was for any length of time constantly on the up or even "better" than others
  3. Certain expressions of advancement from certain locales mean "Indian" technology was universally more advanced

would be a very narrow view.

This denies Grecian, Mesopotamian, Persian and European achievements, Industrial Revolution, and just so much more.

So what slice of time are we talking about when we discuss decline? That keeps happening everywhere. Greece isn't what it used to be, neither is Mesopotamia. Rise and fall are natural cycles.

Only In the short run we can attribute causes. As in "what were the factors that led to the fall of the Magadhan(/Roman) Empire?"

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Indians were never good at scientific method to begin with. Scientific method aka challenging/testing/advancing existing knowledge by peers and verification using experiments was never popular.

Most of the glory lies in individual brilliance/theories/work that was passed down as facts and absolute truths, which does not help in advancing knowledge. Most of the Indian scientific works survive intact unchanged today because of the lack of challenges/advancing of these works by others.

This is due to the Indian psyche of not challenging ideas/elders and the inherent need to maintain status quo. While the threats of invasion, colonization, destruction of centers of learning like nalanda/taxilla etc are true, the greatest culprit is that Indians rest on past accomplishments instead of moving to the next thing and advancing what is already known.

Indians sucked at scientific method of any kind, so development of science never happened beyond the initial work of some savant in their respective fields.

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As late as the 18th century, India had a cotton industry that was at least as advanced as the European textile industry. But when England conquered most of the country, she felt that it was too competitive with her woolens industry. So England taxed India's cotton industry and otherwise prevented it from developing. Same with a number of other industries in the country. Instead, under "mercantilism," India was made to produce raw, not finished goods.

So colonization appears to be the culprit.

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Do you have sources? –  American Luke Aug 11 '12 at 1:40
    
Wikipedia also confirms this fact. In this article, it says, "During the period, 1780–1860, India changed from being an exporter of processed goods for which it received payment in bullion, to being an exporter of raw materials and a buyer of manufactured goods." –  Arani Aug 11 '12 at 9:26
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LOL. Did they have a power loom so to be "as advanced as Europeans"? They simply could not compete with English steam looms by 18th cectury. –  Anixx Aug 12 '12 at 14:16
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I think the main reasons are demolition of Takshashila and Nalanda universities.

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I would classify that as a symptom not a cause. A general lack of respect for higher education and a constant threat of invasion (that caused a general short sightedness amongst the rulers and the ruled) would be the reasons why those universities faded away. –  Monster Truck Jul 15 '12 at 3:38
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Nalanda and Takshashila universities did not just fade away. They were actively destroyed by the Turkish invaders. –  Arani Aug 11 '12 at 9:19
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Hmmm, in my point of view,

  1. Our ancestors never taught those technologies in written form.
  2. The people who learned some technology don't want to teach that outside their family.
  3. From British period we just started to read Europe's history as our indian history. For example "Vasco da gama discovered india".
  4. We people started to thought US and Euro only has the technologies.:(

Thats it...:)

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When you say "our ancestors", you might want to make it clear whose ancestors you mean. Not everyone on this site is from India. –  Joe Dec 13 '13 at 17:38
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