THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Given a large number of scientific establishments in the state capital - the ISRO alone has three units - one couldn’t be faulted for expecting a much larger turnout and more big names in science for the Thiruvananthapuram edition of ‘India March for Science’.
Still, the participation of science enthusiasts for the march, a nation-wide campaign to pressure the government to allocate more money to science and technology research and development(R&D), and to stop the propagation of ‘unscientific and obscurantist’ ideas and religious intolerance among other things was pretty impressive for a city which sees marches and processions day in and day out.
The campaign here was led by Breakthrough Science Society, All India People's Science Network, Astro Kerala and Indian Writers’ Forum. The march itself was a short one, from the front gate of Kerala State Central Library (Public Library) to the Kerala University’s Palayam campus. But the message it sent out was loud and clear: ‘give science its due’.
Academician and MG University former Vice Chancellor, Rajan Gurukkal inaugurated the march. ‘India March for Science’ placed four demands before the government- allocate three per cent of the GDP for scientific and technological research and 10 per cent for education; develop scientific temper and stop propagation of obscurantist ideas; ensure the educational system imparts only ideas which have a scientific basis and enact policies based on evidence-based science.
“We never expected such a large turnout. But the response was overwhelming,” said P Radhakrishnan, former deputy director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and chairman of the organising committee. While the serving scientists in leading establishments were conspicuous by their absence, retired hands, school and engineering college students and science enthusiasts participated in large numbers.