September 10, 2008
I was going through the web pages of CERN, as it has hit the news lately. I looked at the member countries, mostly European countries. The non-member but observer countries include many Asian and American countries, with UNESCO as the observer organization. There were many under developed, developing and developed countries, but no where in the list I saw any GCC countries. There was Iran from the Middle East. I am sure these GCC countries are more developed than countries like Iran, India, Pakistan etc but their contribution towards the field of science and technology is either very less or a big zero, when compared with the said countries. Well, as far as Dubai is considered, science and technology means building the highest tower, the biggest water theme park, the longest bridge ( Did you hear it? There is no sea or creek big enough to build the longest bridge. So I hear they are digging the sea to widen it, and build a big bridge above it!!), the largest man made islands and so on. Guess whose brains and hands are behind these projects? The Europeans’, or Americans’’ or the Asians’. This is the birth place of Prophet Muhammed (saw) who made it obligatory for every muslim man and woman to seek knowledge, even though it be in China. And the people of the same birth place of Prophet (saw) stands last in the list of scientific and technical research centres. I feel shame as a muslim, as these 100% muslim countries has got nothing to do in the fields of higher education. But I also feel proud as an Indian, a country that has got her small but important contributions to the development of CERN.
Some months back, when I went to the Ibn Bathutha mall, I saw the works of so many talented Arabian scientists of the past displayed there. Looking at those displayed discoveries, a new thought came to me. Some years back, I read a novel written by the Malayalam writer Vaikom Muhammed Basheer. The novel was titled as “My great grandpa had an elephant”. Having an elephant was a prestigious issue among the Malayalees those days, like having a Rolls Royce car now-a-days. The character in the novel, a muslim lady, believes that as she is the grand daughter of a person who owned an elephant she should be respected by the society, and she goes on describing to everyone about the elephant her great grandpa had, although now she is poor and unworthy of a penny. The people around her, including her daughter and husband, get angry at these remarks of her and start mocking her. In the end, she understands that there is nothing like gaining respect for the glory of your ancestors.
I feel Ibn Bathutha Mall is like this character of the story, shouting loud that “My great grandpa was a scientist, so respect me!” No one ever turning their attention towards it.