What is the issue?
- India has failed to propagate scientific literacy not only among the public, but also among scientists themselves.
- While politicians, writers, artists, actors, and other celebrities have been given their due, science and scientists seem to have been largely ignored.
- The general apathy towards science, and the lack of scientific temper among the public and politicians, is a poor commentary on the Indian sensibility.
What is the status of scientific advancement in India?
- A solid foundation for modern science was built by scientists in the 1950s and 1960s, facilitated by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
- India has made significant scientific advances in fields such as molecular biology, agricultural/pharmaceutical science, solid-state chemistry, space, nuclear science, and information technology.
What is the case of scientific literacy in India?
- Parliament underscored our commitment to propagate scientific temper by including it as a duty in Article 51A of the Constitution through the 42nd Amendment.
- Article 51A says, “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.”
- Lack of scientific temper– Although India has made some significant scientific advances in research fields, it has failed to propagate scientific literacy in India.
- Scientific temper has not really percolated into society paving the way for retrogressive religion-based politics at the expense of constitutionally guaranteed secular values.
- The bulk of scientists in the country were themselves not committed to scientific temper which calls for rationality, reason, and lack of belief in dogma and superstition.
- India had not produced any Nobel Prize winner in science since 1930 largely because of the lack of a scientific environment in the country, of which scientific temper would be an important component.
- Pseudoscience- Pseudoscience is everywhere, whether in denying the science of climate change or the evolution theory.
- There is official backing of the theory that cow excreta has therapeutic properties despite no scientific validation of this.
- Official circulars quote ancient texts to support the curative properties of cow urine for ailments.
- Disinformation weakens human rights and many elements of democracy.
- Dissemination of fake news is faster and reaches millions of consumers in seconds thanks to Information Technology.
What is the need of the hour?
- It is the job of the science academies to chip in and inspire the country to attain greater science literacy among the public.
- There is a need to develop a knack for critical thinking using the time-tested and highly successful methodologies followed in science.
- Revamping of National Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy.on
- Increasing fund allocation to R&D Institutes.
- Collaboration between various stakeholders – academic institutes, research organisation and industries.
Source: The Hindu