Scientists, science activists and writers in India have issued an appeal to join the India March for Science to be held all across the country on 9 August. The march is being organised to protest against the central government’s moves to cut funding for science research in India, and against the attacks on critical thinking, evidence-based debate and questioning.
The appeals recall the efforts made in 2015 when writers, scientists and academics came together to protest against the rising tide of attacks on the secular fabric of India. Similar attacks on scientific thinking are on the rise in the country, and the India March for Science seeks to unite scientists, researchers, teachers, students, academics, writers and activists in protest against such attacks.
The March is inspired by the March for Science that was held in more than 600 cities across the world on 22 April, demanding more funding for science research and calling for government policies to be based on scientific evidence.
The initial call was given by a set of people including Nitya Anand, Padmashree, Ex-Director, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow and Babu Joseph, former VC, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Kerala. The statement can be read here.
Meanwhile writers and members of the cultural fraternity have given a call for joining this march. “We call on all writers and members of the cultural fraternity to join in this march that will insist on a rational, scientific outlook in our classrooms, in our public discourse, and in our daily lives,” the statement read.
An appeal issued by S.Chatterjee, President and T. Ramesh, Secretary on behalf of the AIPSN reads:
In 2015, writers, scientists and academics came together to speak up against the attack on the secular fabric of our country. Superstition and fraudulent claims are paraded as science. The climate of intolerance continues. The spirit of enquiry, critical thinking, evidence-based debate, and questioning are being attacked. Both education and research, essential in the quest for knowledge, are under threat, by appointing people with no knowledge, or those with unscientific beliefs, to responsible positions.
Along with these attacks, publicly funded science, the core of India’s development, is being drastically curtailed. Funds to universities and scientific institutions are being cut, research funding agencies like DST, DBT and CSIR are facing deep cuts in their budgets, research institutions are being gutted or being asked to concentrate on generating revenue by selling inventions, and undertaking contract research or other commercial activities. Self-reliance and advancement of scientific and technological capabilities are being gravely undermined.
The Indian Constitution in Article 51 A (h) demands, as a part of fundamental duties of citizens, that we '...develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform'. Unfortunately, what we are witnessing today instead is the active promotion of irrational and sectarian thought by important functionaries of the government.
We appeal to scientists, researchers, teachers, students, academics, writers, scientists and social and cultural activists to organize or join 'India March for Science' events throughout the country, particularly in State capitals, on 9th August 2017. We also call on all those who believe that we need a rational, scientific outlook in our classrooms, in public discourse, and in our daily lives, to also join in this march. We appeal to all other sections of society to raise their voice against the assault on reason and scientific outlook that we are witnessing in India today.
AIPSN appeals to its Member Organizations to work out modalities in their respective States to organize ‘India March for Science’ activities on 9th August 2017 and/or coordinate with other participants in the March in whatever manner they feel best.