Development of science in India was a key policy ingredient during the "nation-building" phase in the immediate aftermath of India's independence. A rapid expansion of scientific activities and of institutions of higher education in science and engineering was expected to yield rich dividends in view of the country's track record of high scientific achievements in the colonial era. Nevertheless, India is not a major scientific power now and has been steadily losing ground to its peer group of nations in recent years. Today, when India is at last seeing an economic upturn after decades of stagnation, science is once again declared to be the key to achieving economic prosperity in an age of "globalization". Ironically, the education and research infrastructure in the sciences are woefully inadequate to meet the challenges facing the country. The article explores the causes that led to the current crisis. It argues that policy mistakes such as institutionally separating higher education from research dealt both activities grievous blows. Progress of Indian science was further subverted by the fallout from a persistent notion of self-reliance through an "import-substitution-industrialization" and its implied endorsement of protectionism and mediocrity. This blended seamlessly with India's enduring patronage system and shaped its science-and-technology enterprise for nearly half a century. The prospect of a rapid recovery remains bleak, even though the scientific community, long in denial, finally appears to recognize the need for widespread reform.