NEW DELHI: Scientists, academicians and students in several cities on Saturday organised marches in several cities in the country, including Delhi to protect against Narendra Modi government’s “anti-science policies and decisions being taken without caring about scientific evidence or the opinion of the scientific community”.
The All India People's Science Network and the Breakthrough Science Society, two non-government organisations which have scientists from academic institutions among its members, said the march was aimed to demonstrate resistance to government’s “apathy and disdain for science".
“There has not only been a concorted effort to undermine science but it is happening first time since Independence that absolutely no consultation is carried out with scientists on any government programmes,” said D. Raghunandan of Delhi Science Forum and one of the organisers of the march.
“Funding for science continues to remain abysmally low in India while all developed countries or those aspiring to reach that stage of development are, in keeping with requirements of the knowledge era, investing much higher proportions of GDP in S&T research,” said a statement by the organisers.
“ Additionally, there is a systematic attack on science and scientific attitudes including by influential leaders of the ruling dispensation in the form of questioning the theory of evolution, and positing bogus theories, fake history, unscientific claims of knowledge in ancient India, and advancing myths as historical fact,” it added.
The statement further added, “Combined with attacks on diversity in culture and beliefs, this has created an atmosphere of violence against science, reason and critical thinking as manifested in the assassination of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M.M.Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh”.
Scientists also pointed out that educational and scientific institution have also come under attack not only in funding but also as regards academic freedom, autonomy and democratic functioning, even while school textbooks are being rewritten with false history, a communally jaundiced view and irrational ideas.
The march was also in solidarity with the “March for Science” movement started in 2017 in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s frontal attack on science terming climate change a hoax and slashing funds for various environmental programmes and scientific agencies.