The tsunami of 26 December 2004 has left many questioning the value given to science in South Asia, and how well its results and predictions are being used.
In this editorial in Current Science, P. Balaram says that, in India, of all the scientific disciplines, earth sciences — including geophysics, geology, seismology, and atmospheric science — appear to offer the least professional appeal. Geology teaching, for instance, is often "dull, descriptive and untouched by the excitement of modern sciences", he writes.
He suspects the output of Indian earth sciences is limited in terms of both its quality and quantity, and calls for academic departments and courses in the field to be modernised.
Balaram bemoans the way politicians make statements in favour of boosting the sciences following natural disasters, when such statements are not generally matched by action.
Recalling his description of the "bleak" state of Indian earth sciences in the aftermath of the Bhuj earthquake in 2001, Balaram concludes that nothing has improved since then.