About science; About technology in India
This is about science produced by the California Institute of Technology in cooperation with station K PPC Pasadena California. The programs are made available to the station by national educational radio. This program is about technology in India with host Dr. Albert here and his guest Dr. Peter Fay. Here now is Dr. Hibbs since 1962 the benign universities in the United States including Caltech that have had underway a project with the Indian Institute of Technology at camp or which is located in northern India. This project has been an effort to help the Indian government in particular this institute to develop its educational and educational capabilities its staff its general level. As an institute of technology as Cal Tech is an institute of technology the project has involved the stay time of a number of
individuals at Cal Tech and other universities in this in this school that India can pour. And I guess the guest today is one of those individuals from the Caltech faculty who spent two years at camp or from August of 1964 until June of 1966 he was one of six members of the Caltech faculty who went to camp or in India to help that school expand and develop its own capabilities. Our guest Dr. Peter Fay is professor of history at Cal Tech actually specializing in modern European history. His background includes educations both Harvard in Oxford and 10 years on the staff of Cal Tech. Peter maybe we better start out by asking why it is that a professor of history visits an Institute of Technology in India to help develop what. What is there
about history professor that makes him desirable in this overall effort to develop the Indian Institute of Technology. A little bit unwillingly perhaps has its own department of humanities and social sciences. I say a little bit unwillingly now because it was partly I think the American advice and encouragement which is to plan a department which will be more than simply a service in the English language as the other II teams of which there are four. Oh you mean to tell the have camp was only one campus and yes there are five in the Indian Institutes of Technology. All of them post war creations and the Indian government. That is to say they are what we would call federal universities and what they tend to call center or union universities and they I think it can prove which is the one this country has been helping Bombay for example as it is being helped
by the Russians madrassa by the West Germans Dele by the British and the only listed Korat prone your Calcutta by a number of foreigners including some of our some of America's greatest common poor. Because it's the one really helping. Of course reflects American influence and one of the things I think that American technical schools pride themselves on is having a full fledged department of humanities and social sciences and so do many Americans. It was inevitable I think that they're engaged in faculty at the Ph.D. level with prospects eventually of their own students some at least of the bases of the humanities or social sciences so I went to help develop this is plan is somewhat parallel to the Caltex long history of involvement in humanities even though it's fundamentally a technological school.
So this was more than just However Caltex point of view it was a general general idea of yes this is a good thing to do. Yeah I always like to point out that of all of the Caltech faculty members who become University Press or who are now university presidents 50 percent of them came from the humanities Division I believe this is to their sterling at Stanford and Betul at Chicago westerly in this room. It's not a happy accident. So that indeed Cal Tech has stressed the humanities and social sciences and so this is this is what is being carried over that I responded to or you agree with us that it's a good thing. Well I think Indians are more professionally minded than we are. It may be that in a society that is far less Rubio and rich there are simply far less advanced job opportunities. People simply don't see the advantage or rather they see the
liability of restoring their time as they would put it on things that are not connected with their profession. So there is some reluctance on the part of an engineering student. These are the terms I should explain. Produce all of them. Engineers beat techs they call them at the undergraduate level. Now they have science departments with Ph.D. programs and I think I can program quite soon have undergraduate programs in physics chemistry and math but they were set up to produce only engineers and an engineer fundamentally engineer around undergraduate engineers I think are more locked into linear than they would be here to spend time on humanities or anything else in the faculty shared to some extent that. That my old dismay at the diversion of interests. It's taken a certain amount of encouragement. What does the professional
outlook for a student who graduates from my T correspond to this perception that is. Is it really a waste of time for them. I don't think so. It's hard to tell because while I was there in the spring of 1965 the first class. The first group of 50 were students because it's a five year course graduated and the convocation as they call their commencement which was held the following autumn because in May it's just too hot. The congregation and I already had which the President of India spoken which was really quite a grand affair doesn't give us. It's a occurred in 65 doesn't give us much time to tell how these graduates will do but I think from what I've heard and what I learned talking to my Indian colleagues there that the students and faculty both see some advantage in this humanities and
social sciences. And since it only takes 15 percent of a student's time and since it also involves training them in English it's an English medium school which is a great problem in India. Many of the students come in with inadequate English. It's open since humanities social science particular in the first year is providing that English training service which the engineering and science courses don't wish to provide. There is a kind of practical Gnutella Bay which hardly operates in this country. So actually the since English would be undoubtedly taught there in any case why they want to do other fields of humanities are not really this is a rather small extension into other fields of humanities and social science beyond the English which they would have anyway. Well if you do it it's an extension of some size because the hope is that after the first year the English of the
students will be good enough so they don't need any more formal training in that. And what distinguishes Id come poor from say II to Delhi is that the students have to take humanities or social science courses over five years. Not just the first one or two. However the fact that we're teaching them English the first year has made of the compulsory first year English course which is the single largest humanities course a kind of a stepchild. There's a lot of pressure to make it English language. But the faculty you engage naturally are people trained in English literature and very very see no professional future in the kind of thing which in fact I did I taught English there was no history department there and in fact I was unable to get one. So I worked in the first year course because I thought it was the most important humanities course and I found myself trying to explain my own language to foreigners trying to teach abbreviated versions of the Hound of the Baskervilles for example. And although it didn't matter to me since I was coming back here the history
faculty and my colleagues minded some of them being tied down to English language instruction to routine scholarly pursuit as a member of a faculty well as it confers no status nor prospects of moving anywhere else which matters a great deal. I imagine that this was only one of many pieces. Not exactly reluctance but differences of point of view between a person coming from this country and an Indian as to how the institute should be developed. Then Mr. Weld must have had many use on another Caltech colleagues must have had many different ideas about how best to help the school. I wouldn't say how I read it was so much difference of idea as difference of operation. It happens that over half the faculty. Have degrees Ph.D.s from outside India. Most of them from the United States and this line know their Indian citizen even in citizens the faculty of now about one hundred and
fifty very young. I am forty two now and I was almost unknown to man. The only people older than myself me entire faculty were a few senior scientists and the director of the Institute most of the others were between twenty three and four and about 35. He's young energetic and extremely able Indians. Most of who had had some kind of foreign experience shared I think our conception of what engineering and science training should involve difficulty came in putting it into practice for example. We're a custom in this country I think to a very high level of competence on the part of support staff cemetaries shark foremen technicians of various thought supplies stores and this
kind of support level is weak. Oh really. India and particularly weak in the state of Uttar Pradesh a big overpopulated north Indian state where the city of Kanpur is located. So. So what's the outlook then I do think for themselves or at least without law they do have much too much they don't do things with themselves. Too many I know Indian faculty I think found that if they went to the stock room to get a boat or a test too. And it wasn't available either because it hadn't been ordered or because the stock room was in such a mess that it couldn't be found. They would have to go to the glass blowing shop in person and get the glass blower to blow the two or they would have to go to the machine shop and get the boat turned literally if they didn't do it themselves if they sent a PR on the kind of servant that sits behind the wardrobe brewing team reading cheap novels
and carrying messages if they sent a pee on he carry no authority in this very state has minded it's a no brainer. And I only have so very faculty would be doing much too much of the kind of stuff in this country we delegate other people. Oh is there any organized manner of handling that particular problem that is training technicians and training just kind of Staff help or is the educational program in India aimed at turning out professionals only. Well they would not admit that the system is designed to allow professionals only but I'm afraid that that's what happened because this is a federal university in the Indian context is even murder are tied by tables of organization tables of salary then a state university in this country would be an Indian wife.
Human life is organized traditionally it seems to me in such a way that disparities of income are very great and it's awfully hard to shift a man from one category of status and pay to one other. It's assumed that the man who wrote some of his brain or comes of good family and money will learn a lot of money. It's assumed that technician Clark as they would pronounce it will come from a low status and earn very little. You simply can't get even beanies Americanised faculty to see that you've got to pay a shop foreman a good wage if you're going to attract him out of Calcutta or Delhi. If you want to get good secretaries you want to try hiring women who find indelible non-income who are secretaries or secretaries or men and they're nice and they're incompetent and you know it's very hard. This is where we
part company with our Indian colleagues there is it's the kind of course they gave the kind of research they conducted it seems to me it would be fine anywhere. And I think some of them I know I'm not a scientist were full of the equals of the best scientists here and many of us in the American program one way or another we're not as good as some of them. But we could I think not make them see the necessity of Irgun izing substructure of the institute to support what they did and really of course in your position the position of the other people from Caltech and other schools you had no authority there you are essentially helpful guests advisors and so on. You didn't run anything all by yourself. That's right we did have one or two advantages one is we had the power of the purse. The money in the order of six seven million dollars in the last three or four years is our taxpayers money it's a id
money. Oh I see this project is not simply a university university thing this is done with the help of the government. Yes it's part of our foreign aid budget and what happens is that the salaries of faculty who go there. My salary for example. Need to be paid by Cal Tech with Washington paid Cal Tech the equal amount real highly placement now the expense of getting me and my family there maintaining the air and getting me back which is a good deal more than my salary came entirely from Washington and what's more important a lot of aid money has been used to buy equipment computer for example. Two of them there's a 70 40 for going in a 16 20 was their very fancy. Yeah most successful computer center I must say. So flight facilities small tunnels some light aircraft. No but it's my children and and he profile you can see all in stride and I am an engineering Mason of Cal Tech brought over and a lot of
other laboratory equipment that engineers would recognize in the DI don't. Has been bought with American money because it isn't manufactured or otherwise available in India. Now Americans will bring this equipment can requisition it from Washington bring of course the power of the person that is a real power cannot be used to encourage them to undertake any any developments on their own other than simply providing equipment for this or that project can you. Well yes the aeronautical engineering department was begun by Americans at American insistence it was I think the first such department in any of the institutes and the Americans who began it. Insisted upon a practical approach they wanted a flight for some of the Cal Tech has no flights so never has had a what Concorde has a strip two thousand foot strip gliders and a couple of planes the idea is to get the Indian aeronautical engineering storms to make simple experiments
on flight performance with non power planes I gather that you are one variable which is power and you have all the other elements of flight which you can study because Caltech always had available to it a substantial Southern California aircraft industry. That's a true need its own flight routes through plenty available. But I assume your Concorde is not a rav Concorde has so they build aircraft in India understand aircraft has been in Bangalore for some time and are now building an average of under license from the British. Turbo prop 2 engine at the to carry air basically anywhere near campus migrate close on the side of town. It's not easy to establish relations with Kerry over the Indian industry. But with the Indian armed services given example of the kind of difficulties that occurs if if an I.R.A. faculty engineer is asked to consult with one of the defense establishment in India it has until recently at least been a sub will do it for nothing.
As a patriotic act. Well I don't think consulting in this country with the defensive missions you're not would get very far on that basis. Not one American Indian Point in Europe. It has never seemed quite proper that university people should earn incomes approaching what you would earn in business and I think we feel that you know if people should look there's been a recent move in this direction although even here this has been fairly recent. Well I have no personal acquaintance but I suppose another point is that after all of these professors are essentially on government payroll to begin with and if they're asked to consult for another government agency. Yeah but how long of the pay is this was a difficulty is the difficulty in the program. An Indian for Professor Mayer twelve hundred rupees a month. Now rupee is more or less what 50 cents is. Although at the exchange rate since it's
now seven rupees to the dollar it's a lot less could buy their clothes dry about 50 cents every cents would buy or I would say I mean a coke costs and there is a cow battling plannin can pour all of the stuff that comes out of it. The sweet cost 30 Paice that's 30 and reserve only hundreds of pain which is 15 cents if you say that well but that means they're not they're earning $600 a month. A schoolteacher or maybe through a firm hundred rupees a month. Nobody in business in Westernized business in camp or is running I should think under two thousand twenty five hundred or maybe 3000 rupees a month. Only the sign of this is the kind of businessman that we met socially and can poor serve Scotch which was 85 rupees a bottle and nobody on the faculty unless they had private means could serve Scotch because that like serving 40 bucks a bottle
liquor there quite aside from the fact that some of them didn't drink there was well I say this because it made relations between American Indians awkward. We went over there with our American salaries plus we had the I.D. perks. So we had incomes are roughly five times that of our equivalent. Which I think is an unfortunate relation certainly didn't make your personal relations with them and you know it didn't back it seems to me that we were talking about being paid for consulting I think in the in fact police simply have to get more money the good ones at least. If if institutions are to continue to attract good men many rules or anything about that problem since you brought that specific one up that that the US advisors can do very little quickly outside of the course of effort. Well I think it's almost completely outside. As I say the institutes of
Central University set up by Act of Parliament in the act of parliament spells out a great many things including the scales of pay. However it has been possible for us to urge upon Delhi the desirability of making out of this particular institute among the five a kind of would be Cal Tech MIT that is a place that will conduct research and train scientists as well as turn out engineers and it will be as it already is in the area of computing a kind of scientific center. And in so far as this succeeds then I suppose already it's been possible to hire more from professors than is normal at an Indian university. And elaborated PE is still fixed. I wouldn't be surprised if that ship's a little that nicely so you can then buy at least somewhat indirect means of upgrading the level of the Institute. Yeah
start upgrading the general income of your living standard of the faculty there and this hopefully will become yourself a continuing process. Yes I think so. What was the what are some of the difficulties of you run into with as you mentioned at times before and traditions concepts of status and so on that. I've heard so much about her and you know what. What kind of difficulties Do these make when you just try to institute a small thing like bringing a new piece of equipment or starting a new course or expanding a department or changing or encouraging a change in faculty or other to these tradition and status ideas interfere with the general development of education and this kind of initiative. It's hard for an outsider to tell. Among the faculty I suppose there are community ties we don't recognize. For example most of the engineering and science faculty are South
Indians. For the reason that South Indians are better educated than North Indians and yet the schools in North and in the school is in north India now the humanities and social science department because it isn't as much of a magnet as the engineering and science departments. After all if you're a first rate philosopher you might really prefer to be a deli razz if you're a first rate chemical engineer and university delegate for a chemical engineer country is more attracted to being less attractive. I think this is the explanation we had almost entirely North Indians from the Pradesh should be HAR. It was from the area around Khan poor. And I suspect though I don't have proof that my colleagues in the department were reluctant to hire people from outside this north Indian community which is a little bit as if one were to say that at Cal Tech there are a lot
of letters. Well there are a lot of Harvard graduates in my department and observable or at least it has been observed upon tendency to hire people from Harvard and you know maybe what I saw it can grow doesn't go further than that. But maybe it does I can't tell. Well I do know there is difficulty is at the level I began talking about that is the support level. You can't ask AP on to clean a piece of equipment the sweeper does that you can't ask the secretary to carry a message the pee on does that. Well the sweeper cat clean only does in the way of dusting for example take a rag and slap and I have seen sweepers slapping the turntables and the closed circuit television studio in American importation by the way. Riley in my teeny electrical engineer who put the star theorem stood by her written all over his face.
What could be Schreiber do. He didn't speak Hindi and even if he had he there wasn't any way in which he could get somebody to take proper care of that equipment. Claiming it was for the sweep or the sweep are always slaps with a rag. If you try to make him do differently wouldn't understand a request and you can I ask anyone else to do it so well in many ways that I would guess it's that it's if you have a support level that you you have a difficult task of knowing problems here. What about instituting a new course an essay on the merits or social sciences how was this possible. Could Oh yes reduce movement. Yes the American faculty didn't introduce any more than the union faculty did I would say. But there was an interest in expanding Oh yes there was a lot of flexibility. One thing I wanted very much to to get into just for a little while I was what's a professional outlook of a graduate of a camp or what it is he is more likely
much more likely in India than in this country to get a job with government partly because a fair proportion of industries nationalized if you go with the railway workers government for example and I said railway because I've been there too long for the railroads and if the going rate for the steel industry the chances are more than 50/50 you'll be in a government owned steel plant. So that's one reason that you'll get a job with government. Now the reason is that there are jobs now for engineers there are. Particularly mechanical engineering that is the students come in they have to choose their option when they come in and fixes so many seats available as they call it so many places they can't they can't take a year or two as a can of Caltex I mean shootaround right for those that abound. No they have to decide I want to be a chemical engineer or what. And they decide usually on the basis of what their father tells them is the best available job not on the basis of what they would sit in which is too bad. I see so and there's a not a counselor at the school were remiss but the racist system is set
up it's awfully hard to ship one option to another you can only shift if a vacancy occurs. Now the most popular options mechanical engineering the least popular civil engineering Richen Kipling's day was just the other way around here. Building bridges is what they used to do now they know they're building the factories and electrical engineering is coming up. But chemical engineering that is also popular. The thing that's observable I think is that that scientists purist scientists don't have the job opportunity they have here the Kel-Tec man who goes into physics with the expectation of your math electrical from getting a job in the large areas of American industry as well as academic life. So he doesn't exist in India. Well Peter thank you very much for being with us tonight and telling us about the course of the development of technological education in India. This was about science with host Dr. Albert Hibbs and his guest Dr. Peter Fay join us again for our next program when Dr. Robert McGregor Leanne
- About science
- About technology in India
- Producing Organization
- California Institute of Technology
- KPCC-FM (Radio station : Pasadena, Calif.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program focuses on the growth of technology in India. The guest for this program is Dr. Peter Fay.
- Other Description
- Interview series on variety of science-related subjects, produced by the California Institute of Technology. Features three Cal Tech faculty members: Dr. Peter Lissaman, Dr. Albert R. Hibbs, and Dr. Robert Meghreblian.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Guest: Fay, Peter
Host: Hibbs, Albert R.
Producing Organization: California Institute of Technology
Producing Organization: KPCC-FM (Radio station : Pasadena, Calif.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-40-35 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “About science; About technology in India,” 1967-05-08, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 12, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cz32666m.
- MLA: “About science; About technology in India.” 1967-05-08. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 12, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cz32666m>.
- APA: About science; About technology in India. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cz32666m