Eight months after they took to the streets, scientists from 35 cities across India, including Pune, will once again hold a march to seek the government’s “urgent attention” towards taking steps to improve scientific temper in the country. On August 9 last year, over 600 scientists as well as students of science had marched on the streets of Pune as part of the ‘March for Science’. Such marches, simultaneously held in several other cities, had demanded that the government improve and promote scientific education and increase budgetary allocations for research in scientific fields. The scientists had sought allocation of at least 3 per cent of the GDP for science and research, and an additional 10 per cent towards scientific education and putting an end to the propagation of unscientific ideas.
On April 22 last year, the scientific community in the United States had taken to the streets, to protest against the Donald Trump-led administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. This year, the March for Science across the world, on April 14, will once again highlight the need to encourage science and research. Indian scientists will take to the streets, again, in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad, among other cities. One of the organisers told The Indian Express that the march in Pune will be held at the Balgandharva Bridge in Shivajinagar. “… The overall situation has not improved much. In fact, the scientific community has noticed an increase in politically motivated, irresponsible statements and moves made by elected representatives that are not in tune with scientific facts or theories. This is a serious threat to the scientific temper…,” he said.
“Like-minded scientists will come together… and show their solidarity towards dwindling scientific aptitude and the government’s inaction in increasing funds for the research community. Since Ambedkar Jayanti also falls on the same day, we will limit the event to a public gathering,” said the organisers. In the annual meeting of the Indian National Science Academy or INSA, held in Pune in December last year, participants had expressed concerns about science “being under attack” in the changing political landscape.
Scientists have also voiced their concerns against some groups which, they said, have vested interests in undermining science by prescribing unscientific ideas and superstitious beliefs. “While one one hand, we are trying to work in new and unexplored areas through research… a section of politicians continue to promote mythological and unproven tales, which have no scientific evidence till date,” said another city-based senior scientist.
The gathering in Pune will also see participation from members of All India People’s Science Network, Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, Marathi Vigyan Parishad and several NGOs.