Thiruvananthapuram: With a political row raging over the Centre's decision to name the second campus of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue M S Golwalkar, two progressive outfits have condemned the move and urged the Union government to give it the name of any reputed scientist if needed.
The All India People's Science Network (AIPSN), a national network of people's science movements in the country, and the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), a Left-leaning science and literature movement, slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre and said it was against the interest of the people of the state.
AIPSN, in a statement, said it was highly condemnable to change the name of a modern research institute in the name of a person who was against modern technology calling it western technology.
"Moreover, the descendants of Golwalkar had been advocating pseudosciences calling the birth of 100 Kauravas through stem cell technology and the birth of Karna as in-vitro fertilisation technology. Let not this centre become a pseudoscience centre of research and technology," P Rajamanickam, General Secretary, AIPSN, said.
Stating that centres like RGCB were research and development institutes founded on the basis of scientific development, he said if there was a need from the administration point of view, the second campus of RGCB could be named after a reputed scientist in the field of biotechnology.
"We also urge the Central government to respect the opinion of the Kerala government, the main opposition party and sentiments of the people of the state," he added.
Expressing the same sentiments, KSSP, a well-known state-based voluntary outfit, said the Centre's move to name RGCB second campus after the RSS ideologue was "highly reprehensible" and it should be abandoned immediately.
The Centre's move was a challenge not only to biologists but also to all human beings who believe in the dignity of individuals and in the broader perspective of humanity, it said in a statement.
Stating that it was a disrespect for constitutional values of science, secularism and equality for all human beings, the Kerala-based outfit also said the move was an insult to the scientific community around the world and amounted to inviting their opposition.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had on Friday announced that the second campus of RGCB, a major knowledge centre and hub for mid and high-level innovation, would be named 'Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan shot off a letter to the Union Health Minister on Saturday and urged him to reconsider the move.
While the Left parties said the BJP was trying to bring communal elements to the forefront, the Congress questioned the contribution of Golwalkar in the field of science and technology in India.
Justifying the move, Union minister V Muraleedharan had however, said there was nothing wrong in naming the institute after a "patriot"