The unscientific comments made by a Vice-Chancellor of an Indian University and twosome who lay claims to be scientists dominated the 106th Indian Science Congress casting shadow on the future roadmap of the march of science and scientific temper in the country. Politicians owing allegiance to the right-wing thought continue to unnerve rational thinkers and the scientific community through their outbursts on Vedic Education and Science. They freely and confidently expound texts from mythology as the hallmarks of Indian ancient science and the eventful stories from Indian Epics as the heights of technology. Our nation also overflows with faith, blind faith, miracles, faith-healers and miracle-men attempting to elevate their pursuits to the pedestal of science. However, when the platform of the Indian Science Congress is also used to propagate and justify faith, mythology and magic as scientific truth, it rattles and derails the fundamentals of all Sciences natural, physical, social and applied. Mocking at modern science and technology from the pulpit or podium of modern ‘Babas’ and Gurus is understandable as they are interest-groups with a completely different agenda. But, glorifying mythology and supernatural as scientific knowledge from the dais of Indian Science Congress is disgusting and disastrous. It is also tragic and terrible as the voices are of exalted positions of Vice-Chancellors, researchers and scientists.
“Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” is indeed a welcome and missionary programme of the government. That we need to launch such a massive programme shows the malignant impact on the mind-set of Indian community caught in regressive and unscientific traditions of the past. The nation has lost heavily due to anti-women social practices and attitude blessed by preaching and texts of all religions. Still, we have politicians and culture chauvinists espousing discriminatory practices against women taking the cudgels of faith and sentiment. It may take us another generation to harness India’s women potential into full women capital. Looking at the carcinogenic hold of outdated and unscientific tradition, the Indian Constitution was amended providing for the fundamental duty to develop the scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform. Scientific temper indicates a mind-set rooted in facts, reason as opposed to superstition, blind faith, myths and prejudices.
If we positively challenge modern science and scientific knowledge, science progresses. Science is not a holy cow which needs crutches of faith and sentiment. It is self-progressive and self-corrective being open and transparent. However, if we put it on trial negatively with tinge of contempt, it is blind faith and prejudice that gathers mass. Such an onslaught on science and scientific temper is expected from political and social jingoists as they are enemies of equality, equity and freedom of secular thought. As science and scientific temper gains power in society, religious cum cultural patriots lose power. As mythology is propagated as scientific truth, the supernatural and miracle theories get boost. Scientific temper does not discount faith totally. Faith may work miracles. But, that’s once in a million. In short, it’s an unpredictable accident whereas scientific outcome is million times in a million.
When the educated and men of science make a public exhibition of faith as truth and mythology as fact, they do disservice to society as it is akin to donning the shoes of social parasites. There should be no issue if it is celebrated in guarded privacy. The same should hold true for politics and politicians.
Many educated and public spirited individuals may hold politics as a dirty game and would desire to project themselves as principled and upright keeping their hands unsoiled from politics. However, it is my considered view that there is no escape from politics in a democratic society. All that goes under the banner of Business, Education, Economics, Social Work, Religion, Science, Technology, Performing Arts and Films has impact on politics and vice-versa. Democratic politics includes elections but it is not only about elections and voting. In a democratic society, any human endeavour is inseparable from politics.
Like other disciplines, Politics is an instrument to engineer society to a democratic, equitable and scientific future. Hence, good politics in any sphere of human endeavour is to carry the torch of science and scientific temper. If India has to emerge as one of the powers in the world, (superpower lingo being lethal) future politics should focus on inclusive development, education, science and technology as opposed to Mandir, Masjid, Sabarimala and narrow nationalism bordering on majority communalism. Though, the present Prime Minister also sports the jacket similar to the first PM of India, the cloth is different. The fabric of the first PMs Coat was of modern science. The texture was of scientific temper. It was tailored by the vision as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The vibes it sent were of harmony and brotherhood.
It is through investment in education, modern science and technology that we can maximise freedom of choice in all spheres, freedom of expression in all forms and winnow prejudices based on gender, caste and religion. This is worthy politics and good governance for the ultimate ‘Jai Hind’ which Pandit Nehru interpreted as victory to people of India. Let’s put a full stop to the nonsense of ‘Ravana’ airports, ‘Kauravas’ test-tube babies, Cancer as divine punishment for sins, ‘Sri Krishna’ missiles, ‘Shiv-mantra’ farming, ‘Pranic’ healing, menstrual impurity etc. in public discourses and politics as it projects India as a nation where idiots and impotent are governors.
(The writer is an educationist
and political commentator)