Serious question: Why does India have an impressive history of abstraction (e.g. zero sounds simple to have invented but that’s because some Indian invented it) but a weak one of application?
-Steve SailerAfter Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness?
Borrowing from one of iSteve’s old articles comparing elites in heterogeneous Indian societies to elites in homogeneous Chinese societies, I’d propose Indian intellectuals have tended to abstraction for the same reason as Jews. Presiding as a priestly caste of superintelligent, cosmopolitan, Machiavellian superbureaucrats over low-trust, low average ability, mixed-race societies seems to require a verbally tilted intellect. And it doesn’t make much sense to design 150 IQ-level machine applications (e.g. space shuttles) when the average IQ of the people in your lengthy supply chain is 75.
Forget O-rings for extreme temperature applications, would you even trust forged aluminum from an Indian plant? Probably one of every two would be a piece of spray-painted wood with the foreman and the plant engineer pocketing the difference.