Last month saw the death of two prominent Indian scientists. One was known as the Father of the Indian Satellite Programme, and the other as a scientist cum educationalist who helped develop a scientific temper amongst the masses. The former is the Ex- Chairman of ISRO, Prof. Udupi R. Rao and the latter, the sonic ray scientist cum former Chairman of the UGC and Chancellor of JNU, Yash Pal. Pal also headed the steering committee of National Curriculum Framework,2005. They both stood for the development of scientific approach to events and dismissed superstitious beliefs at multiple points in their lives.
Our very Constitution under the 42nd amendment of 1976, categorically states the various fundamental duties which we as Indians have. As stated under Article 51-A (h), ‘to develop the scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform’ is one of our duties. But despite this, India has been witness to a wide array of events which question the commitment of the government to scientific temper.
The last three years have witnessed deaths of prominent rationalists, presentation of papers and statements by office-holders making unscientific claims about our past, increase in the violence committed by fringe groups in the name of religion
The March for Science India which took place earlier this month in 26 cities highlights the decline in the importance given to science research centers, educational institutes, evidence-based policies, religious tolerance and scientific temper. We are also celebrating the 70th Independence Day this year. And the protest of scientists and researchers sure brings a ray hope towards preserving the democracy in our country.
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In solidarity Team NCAS
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