Science for Freedom Exploring Scientists’ Role in the Freedom Struggle



The paper traces the rise of scientific communities in response to colonial oppression from the second half of the eighteen-century until India’s independence in 1947. We study how scientific temper, held in colonial captivity (Krishna, 1991, p. 89), registered a break from colonial restrictions to find its moorings in the freedom struggle. There were scientists, but no meaningful science was allowed to happen by the British government. We learn from the existing literature how discriminatory practices disillusioned the native Indian scientists, which led to their parting ways with the British government and forming their own scientific community for conducting scientific research (Chakrabarti, 2009, 1996, pp. 188-195) (Krishna, 1991, pp. 89-95). Even in the absence of government support, our scientists established informal collaborative networks to carry out and share scientific knowledge amongst them. Thus, scientists’ successful formation of the scientific community in India marks the beginning of the real scientific endeavour. A galaxy of early scientists such as M.L. Sircar, P.C. Ray, J.C. Bose, C.V. Raman, M.N. Saha and Ashutosh Mukherjee started scientific investigation in pre-independence India. The paper sheds light on the contribution of the above scientists to the cause of science in India and argues that the birth of science in the form of an organised scientific community was occasioned by the British government’s opposition to free scientific endeavour. The Indian scientists earned the displeasure of the British government because they worked for establishing science to create universal knowledge, not as a handmaiden to the Empire (Krishna, 1991, p. 91). Thus, the paper concludes that the struggle for freedom already began in the mind of the scientific community in India against discriminatory colonial practises in scientific institutions quite early. The article mentions specific historical events and draws inferences to form a theoretical framework for understanding the motives behind such historical happenings and their effects.


Freedom struggle; Science; Pre-independence India; Indian Scientists.

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