The history of science initiative is a beginning in bringing this rich past out of archives and institutions and research papers and personal memories. It is but the tip of the iceberg and a starting point to unravelling this story bit by bit, piece by piece, through narratives, texts, interviews, photographs, objects, audio-visual material and archival resources.
As countries of science and civilization since times immemorial, our peoples have interacted, exchanged, travelled and collaborated for centuries and decades. The oldest traces of common history between France and the Indian subcontinent dates back to medieval history, especially in the field of knowledge. Thus, in order to bring this perspective, the story had to dive deep back into the ancient world, in the exchanges that transpired between European scientists and philosophers and the civilizations that emerged in Southern Asia. Some segments of the exhibition therefore also focus on ancient discoveries that shaped and caused the prolific scientific and technological achievements that happened in the 20th century and thereafter.
Yes, a meeting at the Fifth General Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) in Washington DC in 1962 connected Jacques Blamont, Founder of Scientific & Technical Director of the French Space Agency (CNES) and Vikram Sarabhai, father of the Indian space programme thereby paving the way for the Indian space programme on 21st November 1963 with the launch of a sodium vapour payload from Thumba brought to India by Jacques Blamont. This was followed by three more rocket-based experiences conducted by the French Centaurus, a two-stage solid propellant rocket provided by CNES to ISRO.
But that’s not all.
The history of science and technology between the two countries is laden with precious gems pointing to invaluable, though little known, stories of ‘adventurers and pioneers’, comprising of scientists, academicians, entrepreneurs, institutions, engineers and government. The exhibition brings you stories across mathematics, medicine, nuclear science, biodiversity, aviation, physics, visual analytics, locomotives, astronomy, cartography and more.
The initiative will take you through some rare snippets of the prized Tata Central Archives, give you a peek into Airbus’ geospatial digital platform, bring to fore some brilliant records from the Institut Français de Pondichéry which is a repository of international research in cultures, environments and societies in South Asia, and delve into the experiences, memories, testimonies of many brilliant personalities, from India, from France.