‘Voice of Life’: Jagadish Chandra Bose’s Inaugural Speech for Bose Institute

The realm of science seems far removed from the subjective shades of grey that mark our existence. We think of scientists as rigid, cerebral figures who are married to process, definition and outcome.

What we forget, however, is that science cannot be pursued without an abiding curiosity and love for the mysteries of the world. JC Bose’s inaugural address on 30th November 1917, dedicating the Bose Institute to the service of the nation, is a timely reminder of the profound insight and wisdom that scientists can offer.
As one of India’s foremost scientists, Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858 – 1937) needs no introduction. His work covered a wide arc across physics, biology, biophysics, botany, archaeology and even science fiction. He is most well-known for pioneering the investigation of radio and microwave optics and measuring the growth of plants.

At the inauguration of his labour of love – The Bose Institute – his speech is an ode to the selfless and relentless pursuit of truth.

“When human sight fails, we continue to explore the region of the invisible. The little that we can see is nothing compared to the vastness of that which we cannot. Out of the very imperfection of his senses man has built himself a raft of thought by which he makes daring adventures on the great seas of the unknown.”

He also touches upon, and resolves the supposed conflict between faith and science,

“It is forgotten than He, who surrounded us with this ever-evolving mystery of creation, the ineffable wonder that lies hidden in the microcosm of the dust particle…has also implanted in us the desire to question and understand.”  

and correctly predicts—even a century back—the rise of the consumerist greed that has wrecked our environment.

“There has been a feverish rush even in the realm of science, for exploiting applications of knowledge, not so often for saving as for destruction. In the absence of some power of restraint, civilization is trembling in an unstable poise on the brink of ruin.”

In light of this misuse, he calls upon the men and women who are prepared to lead a life of commitment, service and truth.

“I call on those very few, who, realising some inner call, will devote their whole life with strengthened character and determined purpose to take part in that infinite struggle to win knowledge for its own sake and see truth face to face.”

You can read the full text of the ‘Voice of Life’ here.

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