Scientists join intolerance debate: Punish the trespassers of reason and rights

The statement was the first time it has expressed its opinion in public.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: October 28, 2015 3:52:17 am

Joining the debate on growing incidents of intolerance, a newly constituted body of scientists has expressed its anxiety at recent events in the country and called for “exemplary punishment” to “trespassers of reason and rights”.

The Inter-Academy Panel on Ethics in Science, a body formed earlier this year by three top science academies of the country, issued a statement to express concern over “statements and actions” that run counter to India’s Constitutional spirit.

“When we became an independent republic, our founding fathers adopted the Constitution of India, which demands that its citizens abide by and uphold reason and scientific temper. Scientific temper encompasses rationality, rights and responsibility in equal measure,” the statement said.

“Yet, we note with sadness and growing anxiety several of statements and actions that run counter to this constitutional requirement of every citizen of India. It is important that exemplary punishment be given to such trespassers of reason and rights. We also appeal to all sections of Indian society to raise their voices against such violated acts, so that they are nipped in the bud,” it said.

The panel, constituted jointly by the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru, and the National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad, was formed with the objective of maintaining ethical standards in scientific research.

The statement was the first time it has expressed its opinion in public.

The panel is headed by Prof D Balasubramanian, former director of Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, and includes S K Joshi, a former director of CSIR, as one its members, Alok Moitra, executive director of the Indian National Science Academy told The Indian Express.

Separately, a group of scientists on Tuesday petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee, requesting him to initiate “suitable” actions to “stop the spread of communal hatred and polarisation in society”, PTI reported from Chennai.

This group included Naresh Dadich, a former director of Pune-based the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and G Rajasekaran of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, besides some others from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi,  and Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, the report said.

“We, the scientists, are concerned about the recent developments with reference to intolerance, polarisation and spread of communal hatred resulting in the death of innocent people, rationalists. We urge you to take serious note of these developments and initiate suitable actions,” the scientists said.

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