Study of the ancient Indian approach to economics, politics and foreign policy; historical development of mathematics and astronomy through the study of ancient texts; new universal sociological models based on the perspective of insiders; and the recreation of eco-friendly pigments and dyes used in traditional Indian textiles are among nine broad categories in which the Ministry of Education’s Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) program invited research proposals this year.
The IKS division was established by the ministry as an innovation cell within the All India Council for Technical Education in 2020 to promote interdisciplinary research on aspects of indigenous knowledge. This is the second edition of the “Competitive Research Proposal Program” aimed at awarding grants to promote research in the field.
Winning proposals will receive up to ₹20 lakh over two years. The last day for submitting proposals is October 30. The names of the selected proposals will be announced in December.
The nine domains were identified with the help of experts after collecting feedback from researchers, according to an IKS document, a copy of which is at HT.
“The idea is to build a community of researchers in each major field,” said Ganti S Murthy, national coordinator for IKS. “Through IKS, we aim to rejuvenate the Indian traditional knowledge system. Therefore, we try to encourage research in broad and focused clusters and areas,” Murthy said. “We will select 5-6 high quality proposals in each area.”
Research on certain topics like universal sociological models will help India show its own frameworks to the world, Murthy said. “Why should we subscribe to Western sociological theories? There is a need to study whether digital or social media should be studied from an Indian sociological perspective to curb certain vices and encourage certain virtues,” he said. “What can an Indian sociology offer that helps individuals embody a unique potential for wonder, connection, inspiration, and even joy and pleasure?”
Under the Political and Economic Thought and Foreign Policy category, the division seeks to find answers to several questions, including an Indian approach to economics, politics and foreign policy.
“India is the land of great wisdom in the study of politics and economics, the Rajaneetishastra and the Arthashastra, as explained in our great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and in the profound works of thinkers such than Shukracharya and Acharya Vishnugupta,” he said. “The Indian empires of the last millennia consisted of Mauryas, Guptas, Cholas, Pallavas and Vijayanagara who had flourishing economies, transcontinental trade, sent cultural ambassadors to all corners of the known world and even sent military expeditions to safeguard economic interests and policies.”
“These aspects need to be studied in detail to understand India’s political and economic thinking and foreign policy.”
The medieval period should also be covered when researching IKS, said Tanvir Aeijaz, associate professor of political science at Ramjas College, University of Delhi.
“For example, in the case of political science, IKS should not only take into account the ancient and Vedic era, but also take into account the medieval and modern historical knowledge of India,” Aeijaz said. “Furthermore, this research must be done without any preconceived idea or agenda. However, we welcome the fact that the government is trying to push research through this project, provided it is done in a democratic way.
In the Traditional Mathematics and Astronomy category, the IKS division solicited proposals to study the historical development of mathematics and astronomy through the study of original texts or ancient structures and instruments.
“Most of the mathematics taught in schools today originated or was developed in India,” the IKS document states. It is necessary to study the relationship between astronomical phenomena and the Panchanga to determine the timing of festivals and agricultural operations, the traditional methods of periodic correction of astronomical models, the study of the simplicity and optimality of the algorithms developed in Indian mathematics and astronomy are a priority.
Other areas of research could include historical artifacts obtained from archaeological excavations, the replacement of pesticides with traditional alternatives, and areas of Ayurveda, Buddhist vipasana (mindfulness) approaches, health studies, well-being and consciousness based on Indian traditions. Sustainable agriculture and food preservation, as well as water resource management approaches are also among the topics.