For the third consecutive year, Indian scientists and researchers will hit the streets, seeking the central government’s attention towards improving scientific research in the country.
The third edition of ‘India March for Science’ is scheduled on August 9. The earlier protests held in 2017 and 2018 were hosted in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Kolkata, among others.
‘India March for Science’ is a forum comprising scientists, researchers, students and science enthusiasts associated with several national-level science labs, institutions and research centres like IITs, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Institute of Astronomy (IIA), both located in Bengaluru, Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Harishchandra Research Institute (HRI), Allahabad, along with central, state universities and colleges.
Their main demand has remained better funding opportunities for improving the overall standard of teaching of science subjects in both schools, colleges and institutions in India.
Some of the major demands that this forum has been fighting for include development of scientific temperament among Indians and no propagation of unscientific ideas or theories, enhancement in budget allocation for carrying out scientific research at colleges, institutes of higher education and research institutions along with supportive public policies that will aid in dissemination of scientific knowledge among people.
Speaking to The Indian Express about the need to take out street protests for yet another year, TIFR’s Aniket Sule said, “We want the government to do a lot more in order to enhance scientific temperament among people. The change will not be overnight and that is why, we are back this year too.”
Over the three years since the protests began, more of India’s best minds are now involved in this forum that has been actively reaching out to students in colleges and universities in respective cities and towns, spreading awareness of the numerous problems faced by the scientific community. Over time, these matters have earned a centre stage status, said Soumitro Banerjee, a senior scientist from IISER, Kolkata.
“There are more scientists discussing these matters and are also spreading awareness of the various issues. Over the three years, the government too has taken note of our demands,” he added.
Commenting on the recently proposed National Education Policy, both Banerjee and Sule voiced in unison that some of its recommendations looked promising.
Sule said, “The mention of upgrading existing or setting up new infrastructure and other facilities at schools and colleges for science is a welcome move.”
However, Banerjee cautioned that the right implementation holds key and failing to do so will have adverse effects on the existing education policy.