In April when researchers and scientists in United States took to streets to protest against dramatic budgetary cuts and shift in scientific policies under President Donald Trump regime, with 600 cities globally participating in a first-ever protest march after several years, in India discussions had only begun amidst scientific community.
On Wednesday, over 500 scientists, professors, and researchers joined ‘March for Science’ protest rally in Mumbai, in tandem with scientists in other cities in the country to draw center’s attention towards poor budgetary allocation for scientific research.
“The rally is not just to demand more funds for science. It is time scientists come together to speak about the shift we are seeing in government funds for research in cow urine. If we don’t speak now, people will believe in validation of cow urine without evidence,” said Aniket Sule, astrophysicist attached with Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education.
The rally was catalysed by Breakthrough Science Society, in Kolkata, who started writing e-mails to scientific community after the April rally in United States and several other countries. The major demand is to increase budgetary provision from 0.85 per cent of GDP to 3 per cent for scientific education and research. The protestors are also against “pseudo-scientific ideas”, slashing of IIT budgets, and center’s shift in scientific research.
The scientist also expressed their concern over SVAROP program (Scientific Validation and Research On ‘Panchgavya’), a program based on promoting benefits of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee for alleged medicinal properties.
A similar movement took place in Britain in 2014 where scientists asked for increased funding for research.
On Wednesday, scientists and professors from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), Homi Bhabha Center and various colleges will walk from August Kranti maidan to Girgaum chowpatty.
“It is concerning if scientists are forced to come on roads. The scientific temper is taken for granted, and with current government there is less focus on evidence based decision making. In High court, a judge spoke about peacock’s tear. We are worried if we don’t speak about these perceptions now, we will never get an opportunity later,” said MC Arunan, attached with Collaborative Undergraduate Biology Education at Bhabha Center.