GUWAHATI, Oct 30 - Scientific temper is under unprecedented attack in the country over the past few years. Unfortunately, most of the damage is being done by persons holding high positions in the government and by powerful people in organisations affiliated to the ruling dispensation. Unscientific ideas are now reiterated and incorporated in school textbooks and college curricula, despite protests by scientists all over the globe, revealing a concerted effort by official circles to undermine scientific temper.
This has been seriously endangering scientific attitude, specially among the students and youth, posing a grave threat to the future of the country.
Above was the observation made by noted popular science movement leader D Raghunandan, who is presently heading the New Delhi-based Centre for Technology and Development as its director. He is regarded as an expert in science and technology, social science, environment and climate change and as a defence analyst. He was delivering the First Anuj Goswami Memorial Lecture on �Scientific temper and India�s future� at the Kanaklal Barooah Auditorium of the Assam State Museum here this evening.
The lecture was jointly organised by the Anuj Goswami Memorial Lecture Organising Committee in association with the Assam Chapter of the Indian People�s Science Network (IPSN).
Raghunandan, a pacesetter in the people�s science movement in the country, alleged that false and pseudo-scientific notions are being propagated now about scientific achievements in ancient India, which are �based on mythologies, legends and plain untruths.� These ideas convey patently false history, wrong ideas of how science and knowledge grew in human society and in different civilisations.
Most significantly, these wrong ideas propagate incorrect understanding of what is evidence and scientific reasoning, substituting these with faith in customary notions, he said.
Asserting that critical thinking is the core of scientific temper, and specially, of innovation in the modern era, he said that rather than strengthening it, critical thinking is sought to be suppressed even in premier institutions of higher learning, attacking divergent ideas and seeking to breed conformist thinking and ideas, even by issuing threats and intimidation. The recent University Grants Commission (UGC) circular opposing research or writing in universities which are critical of government policies is one such blatant attempt.
Even in the wider society, evidence-based debates are drowned under unreasoning appeals of faith, false nationalism or undefined tradition. �The coming generations and the nation as a whole will suffer greatly if they are not equipped with knowledge and skills, especially critical thinking and scientific temper,� said Raghunandan.
The function, presided over by organising committee president and writer Dr Sivanath Barman, was also addressed by its working president Madhurima Barua Sen, secretary Isfaqur Rahman and its member Tapan Kumar Sarma, among others.
Goswami, a power engineer who died in a road mishap at Panjabari here on October 31, 2017, was a prolific writer on social issues and a leading activist of the people�s science movement. He was also connected with the cine club movement.