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.
The March upheld the genuine contributions of the Indian subcontinent to astronomy, mathematics, medicine and philosophy dating back to several millennia and applauds the scientific achievements of India since Independence. At the same time, the March was concerned about the alarming spread of unscientific ideas, a significant part of which can be attributed to policymakers and which is in violation of Article 51A(h) of the Constitution. Such propagation of unscientific ideas had not spared even platforms like the Indian Science Congress that are meant for the exchange of evidence-based knowledge.
Further, countries that have shown consistent and commendable research output are characterised by significant governmental spending on education and R&D—about 6% of their GDP on education and 3% on science and technology research. India spends below 3% and 1% respectively. This situation has worsened over decades and successive governments have not paid heed to the concerns raised by scientists. Similarly, the concerns of thousands of scientists, educators and science-loving people who took part in the two earlier Marches in August 2017 and April 2018 were submitted in memorandums to respective state Governors for forwarding to the Prime Minister. While these concerns were duly acknowledged, expectations that appropriate steps would follow are yet to be met.
In this context, the March submitted the following demands, urging for positive response and action from the Government of India
- Promote scientific temper and human values as per Article 51 A of the Constitution and stop the propagation of unscientific ideas.
- Allocate 10% of the Central Budget and 30% of the State Budgets to education
- Ensure at least 3% of the GDP for science and technological research.
- Ensure that education system does not impart ideas that are not based on or contradict scientific evidence.
- Ensure that the public policies are based on scientific evidence.