Over 200 eminent scientists all over India have endorsed the call by the All India Peoples Science Network and other organizations to “March for Science” in India on 14 April 2018 in as many centres as possible. The international “March for Science” call this year has been issued so as to continue the “March for Science” movement started in 2017 in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s frontal attack on science terming climate change a hoax and slashing funds for various environmental programmes and scientific agencies, as well as the cut in funding for higher education and research in many other countries.
In India, a similar pattern is visible too, but with several additional features special to this country. Funding for science continues to remain abysmally low in India while all developed countries or those aspiring to reach that stage of development are, in keeping with requirements of the knowledge era, investing much higher proportions of GDP in S&T research. Additionally, there is a systematic attack on science and scientific attitudes including by influential leaders of the ruling dispensation in the form of questioning the theory of evolution, and positing bogus theories, fake history, unscientific claims of knowledge in ancient India, and advancing myths as historical fact. Combined with attacks on diversity in culture and beliefs, this has created an atmosphere of violence against science, reason and critical thinking as manifested in the assassination of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M.M.Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. Educational and scientific institutions have also come under attack not only in funding but also as regards academic freedom, autonomy and democratic functioning, even while school textbooks are being rewritten with false history, a communally jaundiced view and irrational ideas.
Since 14 April is also Ambedkar Jayanti, this call also appeals to the scientific community and all those who stand by science and reason, to also fight for social justice and against discrimination in the in educational institutions and the work place.