INDIA MARCH FOR SCIENCE – 2023
India March for Science 2023 – Appeal
Even though science and technology have been making rapid strides, there is a general perception among scientists worldwide that science is coming increasingly under attack from anti-science forces. Funding for scientific research is drying up, and governments are consistently ignoring scientific advice, especially in matters related to protecting planet Earth. In 2017, more than a million scientists, teachers and scientists in nearly 600 cities around the world took to the streets to uphold the values of science. In our country, ‘India March for Science‘ events were held in various cities of India in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022 in protest against the gradual decrease in government funding for education and scientific research, various government decisions taken without regard to scientific evidence, and the promotion and spread of unscientific ideas by government initiatives.
Under the cover of the corona epidemic lock-down period, the Central Government launched the National Education Policy 2020. The reckless haste with which various aspects of the policy is being implemented, the focus in introducing unscientific and fanciful subjects in the curriculum under the umbrella of the ‘Indian Knowledge System’, threatens to sabotage the foundations of our education system. Efforts are afoot to distort scientific facts and even Indian history and to propagate superstitious beliefs. Universities are under duress to commence courses in unscientific faith-based subjects like astrology even in medical education. Some, including a few IITs, have even introduced courses in these directions.
This year, the Central Government-run NCERT has dropped several vital topics from the syllabus, including Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Mendeleev’s Periodic Table, the history of the Mughal period, and even chapters on human rights and democracy. It is easy to understand that the purpose of these changes is to create obstacles to developing rational thinking among students, and instead cultivate unquestioning and blind loyalty to those in power and their philosophy. There has been a storm of protests nationwide, and leading scientists have strongly objected to these moves. It is a matter of great concern that the activities of anti-science forces are increasing day by day.
Education and research in our country has long been massively underfunded, and that allocation continues to decline every year. While most developed and developing countries spend 2.8 to 3.2 per cent of GDP on science and technology research, India spends less than 0.8%, much below the global average of 1.8 %. In the budgets presented after the adoption of NEP 2020, the government’s commitment to education and research has hit rock bottom. The total allocation for the education sector in the financial year 2023-24 is Rs 1,12,899 crore — which is only 2.5% of the total budget. The expenditure in the science and technology sector has also been reduced. The Ministry of Science and Technology received only a dismal Rs 16,361 crore (0.36%) out of the Union budget of Rs 45,03,097 crore. While research has been languishing across the country, government-sponsored research centres on Indian Knowledge Systems are being set up at various IITs and other educational institutions. They are publishing calendars promoting unscientific ideas, holding conferences on cow science, and developing courses under the much-hyped Indian Knowledge System. Now the Union Government has announced a plan for a total centralization of the research-support system through the formation of a National Research Foundation (NRF), whose policy-making Board will headed by the Prime Minister and other ministers.
Rampant looting of the environment by the country’s corporates is reflected in the recent Environmental Performance Index-2022, in which India ranked 180th out of 180 countries. The proposed Environment Impact Assessment-2020 is actually a blueprint for destroying nature and the environment by handing over natural resources to profit-mongers.
Scientific evidence is not given any weight in the formulation of government policies. The government’s ill-preparedness in dealing with the COVID pandemic and the resulting tragic deaths of lakhs would not have happened if the government had acted in consultation with scientists. Government indifference to scientific evidence and unscientific policies are responsible for the poor state of environmental health and the lack of government initiative to combat global warming.
In this grim situation, we request the scientific community to help strengthen the ‘India March for Science‘ movement by coming forward and participating in the various events in different cities of the country from August 9 to August 16 and lend their voices to raising the following demands:
- Protect the environment and take effective steps to counter climate change. Stop rampant exploitation of the country’s natural resources for the benefit of a few. Enact policies based on scientific evidence;
- Stop propagation of unscientific and obscurantist ideas, and develop scientific temper in conformity with Article 51A of the Constitution;
- Stop introducing unscientific ideas in educational curricula in the name of ‘Indian Knowledge Systems’ as a part of NEP-2020. Ensure that the education system does not impart ideas that contradict scientific evidence;
- Allocate at least 10% of the Central Budget and 30% of the State Budget to education;
- Spend at least 3% of the country’s GDP on scientific, technological, and social science research;
- Repeal the decision to drop Darwin’s theory of evolution, Mendeleev’s periodic table, the history of the Mughal period etc., from the school syllabus. A committee with eminent scientists of the country should be formed to revise the curriculum;
- Increase the number of PhD and postdoc fellowships, and repeal the decision to abolish nearly 300 awards. Extend the fellowships for researcher-students affected by the COVID-lock-down by one year.
India March for Science 2023: Events
To see the report of each March with photos, click on the image of the corresponding poster
INDIA MARCH FOR SCIENCE:
PRESENCE IN MORE THAN
70 CITIES AND TOWNS
On August 9, 2019 scientists, professors, research scholars, educators, students, and science loving people marched across India in over 70 cities and towns to celebrate science, promote scientific temper and champion robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.
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GLOBAL MARCH FOR SCIENCE
India March for Science is an integral part of the global March for Science
Science and scientific temper are the pillars on which the material development, prosperity and cultural well-being of the Indian people rest.
‘India March for Science’, as an integral part of the global March for Science is an earnest endeavour to celebrate science to underscore the importance of cultivating scientific temper, and also to resist the attempts to propagate superstitious beliefs.
IMFS 2023 SPECIFIC CONCERNS
- Since 2017, the scientific community has been urging the government to uphold Article 51(A) of the Constitution, cultivate scientific temper and stop spreading unscientific beliefs. But now, unscientific ideas are being introduced in educational curricula in the name of ‘Indian Knowledge Systems’, an important component of the New Education Policy 2020!
- While all the education policies since 1968 have promised to spend at least 10% of the GDP on education, the spending is yet less than 3%. Governmental support for R&D presents an even dismal picture. India spends less than 0.8% of its GDP on research while most advanced and advancing countries spend to the tune of 3%. Even within that, curiosity-driven fundamental research and social science research receive a miniscule fraction. It is no surprise, therefore, that we are unable to make a mark in the world stage and our universities stand nowhere in global rankings. While funding for scientific institutions and research is drying up, the Union Government is initiating research to investigate the ‘racial purity’ of ethnic groups, the benefits of panchgavya, etc.
- While the whole world is worried about climate change, unabated loot and plunder of the environment have resulted in India securing the dubious distinction of occupying the180th place among 180 countries in the Environmental Performance Index-2022.
In this situation, members of the scientific community along with like-minded science loving people cannot remain mute spectators. We must make our voice heard to defend science. With this objective, we are going to hold the ‘India March for Science’ in all major cities and towns in the week from 10 to 16 August 2022 with the following demands:
- Stop propagation of unscientific and obscurantist ideas, and develop scientific temper in conformity with Article 51A of the Constitution.
- Stop introduction of unscientific ideas in educational curricula in the name of ‘Indian Knowledge Systems’, a part of NEP-2020 and to ensure that the education system does not impart ideas that contradict scientific evidence.
- Allocate at least 10% of Central Budget and 30% of State Budget to education
- Spend at least 3% of the country’s GDP on scientific, technological, and social science research.
- Protect the environment and take effective steps to counter climate change. Stop rampant exploitation of the country’s natural resources for the benefit of a few. Enact policies based on scientific evidence.
We request all science loving people to join the March. We must keep the flag of science flying to safeguard the physical and cultural living condition of the future generations. We must uphold the banner of scientific temper
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