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India: Science and Technology

Science and Technology in India

You must be familiar with the fact that it was Aryabhata, an Indian mathematician who was responsible for giving the world the ” Gift of Zero” without which Mathematics is unimaginable. But do you also know that the binary system of numbering that is the basic language used by Computers was first described by the Indian Vedic scholar Pingala, in his book Chandahśāstra? Since times immemorial, the world of Science and Technology has been indebted to India for its massive contribution. Let us explore more about it.

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The Contribution of Ancient India in Science and Technology

The Indian civilization is the oldest civilization in the world. Ancient India was way ahead of its western counterparts in its contribution to the field of Science and Technology. I bet the following list will make you proud to be living in the country of India! Let’s find out more about the science and technology in India.

Contribution in the Feild of Mathematics

  • The Decimal System: It was India that came up with the ingenious method of expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols – the decimal system. In this system, each symbol had a fixed absolute value as well as a value of the position. Its sheer simplicity facilitated calculation as well as made the use of arithmetic in inventions much faster and easier.
  • Numeral Notations: Since as early as 500 BC, India had devised a system of different symbols for every number from one to nine. This notation system was adopted by the Arabs who called it the hind numerals. Centuries later, this notation system was adopted by the western world who called them the Arabic numerals as it reached them through the Arab traders.
  • Ruler Measurements: When the sites of Harappa were excavated, archaeologists were shocked to have discovered rulers or linear measurement tools made from ivory and shell. These were marked out in minute subdivisions with amazing accuracy! Moreover, ancient bricks were also found at the excavation sites which corresponded in their dimensions to the rulers.
  • The Fibonacci numbers: This one might come as a surprise! The Fibonacci sequence first appeared in Indian mathematics as mātrāmeru, mentioned by Pingala in connection with the Sanskrit tradition of prosody. Later on, the methods for the formation of these numbers were given by mathematicians Virahanka, Gopala and Hemacandra, much before the Italian mathematician Fibonacci introduced the fascinating sequence to Western European mathematics.

Contribution in the Feild of Metallurgy

  • Wootz steel: It was India that pioneered in the development of Wootz steel, a peculiar form of crucible steel characterized by a pattern of bands. It was known in the ancient world by many different names such as Ukku and Seric Iron. This steel was used to make the famed Damascus swords of yore that could cleave a free-falling silk scarf or a block of wood with the same ease. Produced by the Tamils of the Chera Dynasty, the finest steel of the ancient world was made by heating black magnetite ore in the presence of carbon in a sealed clay crucible kept inside a charcoal furnace.
  • Smelting of Zinc: India was the first in the smelting of iron. Zawar in the Tiri valley of Rajasthan is the world’s first known ancient zinc smelting site. The distillation technique of zinc production can be dated back to the 12th Century AD and is an important contribution of India to the world of science.
  • Seamless Metal Globe: Considered by modern metallurgists as an impossible fete, the first seamless celestial globe was made in Kashmir by Ali Kashmiri ibn Luqman in the reign of  Emperor Akbar. In a major feat in metallurgy, Mughal metallurgists pioneered the method of lost-wax casting to make twenty other globe masterpieces in the reign of the Mughal Empire.

Contribution in the Feild of Medicine and Surgery

Science and Technology

Statue of Sushruta

  • Ayurveda: Ayurveda is India’s invaluable contribution to the field of Medicine. Considered to be the Father of Indian Medicine, Charaka authored Charakasamhita, a text which laid the foundation of modern-day Ayurveda. Charaka was the first physician to present and elaborate the concepts of digestion, metabolism and immunity in his book. Charaksamhita later got translated to many other foreign languages including Persian and Latin.
  • Plastic Surgery:  In 6th Century BC, Sushruta authored the Sushruta Samhita regarded as one of the most comprehensive textbooks on ancient surgery. The text elaborates various illnesses, plants, preparations and cures along with complex techniques of plastic surgery. Rhinoplasty, which involves the reconstruction of the nose was the first plastic surgery carried out in the world. The technique was based on the application of techniques mentioned in the text.
  • Cataract Surgery: Sushruta can be credited for carrying out the first Cataract Surgery as well. It has been reported that he used Jabamukhi Salaka, a peculiar curved needle to loosen the lens and push the cataract out of the field of vision. Sushruta’s surgical works were later translated into the Arabic language. Through the Arabs, his works were introduced to the West. He is regarded as the Father of Indian Surgery.

Apart from these, other contributions in technology include the development of cast- iron rockets, the Theory of Atom and the Heliocentric Theory.

Solved Questions For You

Que: Who is considered as the Father of Indian Medicine?

  1. Aryabhatta
  2. Charaka
  3. Sushruta
  4. None of these

Ans: The correct answer is option c. Sushruta.

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