This book gives a flavour of the Indian response to modern science by analysing the lives and careers of four scientifically influential personalities in Bengal. His analysis of the careers of two scientists, J. C. Bose and P. C. Ray, and two institution builders, Mahendralal Sircar and Asutosh Mookerjee, brings to light the issues related to science at a time of colonialism and nationalism. Scientists often had to depend on British institutions for legitimation and funding, while also supporting the nationalist cause for greater autonomy.
One of the central claims of this book is that the protagonists aimed to contribute to a modern world science, one based on a strong sense of universalism. They did not aim to construct any “alternative” sciences, though they did express and apply their work by drawing on their cultural heritage. This makes Science and National Consciousness a work of particular relevance today, when a homogenous, instrumentalist and totally Western conception of science is being globally accepted.