In one of my speaking engagements, someone from the audience asked me what most people ask in the majority of my talks. So I said, it's about "why do they care." He was surprised because it's not about something that is drawn out from the abysmal recesses of scientific perplexities. It's not about whether or not proton is stable. It's not about why the Higgs exist or why does the top quark interact strongly with Higgs than how the electron does. Or where does high energy neutrinos coming from. Or why is the universe mainly made of matter and not anti-matter. Or why does B-Mesons decay a tad slower than an anti B-Messon.
The question about "why do people care" is philosophical rather than empirical. And this is the same question most legislators rationalize the budgetary weight between scientific research against infrastructure. The question is itself a reason of our state of being, as it is to our state of nationhood. That's the reason why we only have .01% funding on research as opposed to 2% in any of our Asian neighbors from total national budget. That's the reason why our intellectual workforce tends to make an exodus and work for other countries in exchange of a well funded scientific endeavor and top of the line research facilities. That's the reason why economy has been relatively slow as compared to Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam. That's the reason why most of our household products are from China, our clothing apparels from Vietnam, our hygienic products from Thailand or Korea, our basic commodities from our Asian neighbors. And that's similarly the reason why most of our country's energy source is derived from foreign supply. Further augmenting the case, that is the reason why science as an engine of progress, and technology as an accelerator of economy, never took off in our homegrown development.
I bet our public school system is still teaching obsolete modules of academic resource. I bet they still teach old textbooks that says Atom is the smallest unit of matter. And that Quarks and Leptons are far from their grasps. Or that there are only three states of matter- Solid, Liquid or Gas. And Plasma, Bose-Einstein condensate and Dropleton are not yet within their realm. Or maybe their visual aids still include Pluto in the planetary roster.
We produced a wealth of artists, singers and sportsmen, who help funnel cash flow to the economy, but we also need scientists to build our own nation of intellectual capital. We need excellent urban planners, we need IT professionals who does not only know how to design but code, we need doctors in the biotech research, we need agricultural scientists to ensure abundant and safe produce from our countrysides, we need business leaders who does not only speak business but script programs, we need industrialists who are not only good managers but good technology-enablers as well.
Reckoning from it, the question therefore about "why do they care" is not a question rather than a hint(or subtle declaration) of indifference. It's not about asking why do they care, it's about devaluating altruism and never care at all.
And we mustn't.
And we mustn't.