The scientific community will on Wednesday ‘March for Science’ across the country, particularly in state capitals, demanding an increase in funding for science and that government policies be drafted based on scientific research. The rally is along the lines of the global one held earlier this year, on April 22, which was attended by over a million people from 600 cities. Scientists, professors, research scholars, students and science activists are expected to participate in the rally today.
Through the protest, the scientific community is demanding an allocation of at least three per cent of India’s GDP towards scientific and technological research and 10 per cent towards education. Second, it is appealing to stop propagation of unscientific, obscurantist ideas and religious intolerance, in conformance with Article 51A of the Constitution. Third, to ensure education system impart ideas that are supported by scientific evidence. And last, for policies to be enacted based on scientific evidence.
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While organisers claim only 0.8-0.9 per cent of the GDP is allocated towards scientific research in India, South Korea spends 4.15 per cent of its GDP, Japan 3.47 per cent, Sweden 3.16 per cent, and Denmark 3.08 per cent, when calculated on the basis of purchasing power parity.
“In India the education system has been seriously neglected, resulting in a large section remaining illiterate or semi-literate even after 70 years of independence. The public school system, where a majority of Indian children get their education, is in a very bad shape. As a result, a majority of children are deprived of the opportunity of being a part of the scientific manpower of the country,” a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan, reads.
It adds, “In recent times the attempts to spread unscientific beliefs and superstitions are on the rise. This is vitiating the cultural atmosphere of the country. The scientific community expects the Government to uphold Article 51A of the Constitution, and to restrain the attempts that run counter to the development of scientific temper, human values and spirit of inquiry enshrined in the Constitution.”
In New Delhi, the march will begin at 4 pm from Mandi House. Protesters will walk to Jantar Mantar. It will simultaneously be held in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune, among other cities.