The Newsletter 70 Spring 2015

The medical spur to postcolonial Indonesian science: the Soekarno era

Vivek Neelakantan

At the closing reception of the First Indonesian National Science Conference in 1958, President Soekarno connected the ideals of the Indonesian Revolution (1945) to science, for the very first time. Soekarno proffered that science has always been revolutionary in its outlook as it is based on a meticulous investigation of facts. He noted that thirteen years since the commencement of the Indonesian Revolution, the country had not yet adequately applied science towards the realisation of the revolutionary ideals of a just and prosperous society (masjarakat jang adil dan makmoer), but that he had confidence in the contributions that science could make. However, in order for science to attain the revolutionary ideals, Soekarno urged that the Indonesians transform basic science into applied science. This study investigates the pivotal role of Indonesian medicine in furthering the idiomatic Bandung Spirit, which advocated liberation of the world from colonial domination and superpower hegemony, economic and technological self-sufficiency of newly-independent nations, and solidarity with newlyindependent nations of Africa and Asia.