As you know, the scientific community and science loving people worldwide have been voicing their opinion publicly since 2017 by organizing March for Science events every year. In our country also, the ‘India March for Science’ (IMFS) programmes have been organized on the 9th of August from 2017 to 2019. While celebrating science, through these programmes science-loving people also protested against the promotion of unscientific ideas from government circles, reduction of financial support for education in general and scientific research in particular, and the formulation of governmental policies ignoring evidence-based scientific opinion.
In 2020 and 2021, public life was seriously disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and IMFS activities had to be restricted to social media and online events. Taking advantage of the absence of public protests, attacks on science have increased manifold.
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 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 the 180th 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, where we urge the Central and State Governments to
- 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.