Pune: Pioneering astronomer Jayant Narlikar said that for the Indian society, spreading scientific temperament to the common people remains a distant dream. He was speaking at Ask Why, a programme organised on Sunday as a prelude to the National Scientific Temperament Day, which is being observed across the country on the fifth memorial day of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar’s assassination.
Narlikar, who is well known, not only for his scientific research but also for his outreach efforts through popular writing and science fiction, was talking about how a person must live in the 21st century. He said, “We are living in the 21st century today, but some people behave like they are yet to come out of the 17th or 18th century. The speciality of the 21st century, according to me is that the achievements of science are rapidly reflected in daily lives through technology. However, not everything that comes out of technology is ultimately good, which is why one has to develop a directed attitude towards science.”
“When Nehru wrote ‘Discovery of India’, he had written that the country will only be free when each man will be able to make his own decisions based on reason, but unfortunately, the spread of scientific temperament to the masses remains a distant dream for India and I think that we, as a part of the scientific community, fell short in our efforts,” Narlikar said. “Scientific temperament will not only take us towards progress but will also make our lives more efficient and fulfilling,” he added.
Mukta Dabholkar, who is an Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANIS) activist and daughter of Narendra Dabholkar, said that science helps one to get rid of oppression. “Doctor Dabholkar’s death will complete 5 years tomorrow and the observance of a scientific temperament day today is a reminder that if one tries to create a culture of questioning and science, one has to face violence.” She said, “Nowadays, irrational beliefs are becoming mainstream and institutionalised,” she added.
“When Ambedkar spoke about the Constitution, he had said that the Constitution is nothing if there are no people to implement its values. Maharashtra and Karnataka both passed the Anti-Superstition Law, but Maharashtra has much more cases filed since the law was passed,” Dabholkar said.
“With science, one can realise one’s own oppression and which is why, people who work to spread scientific temperament, face a threat to their lives,” she further added.
Vivek Monteiro, head of Nav Nirmiti, said that the country is seeing a suppression of questioning. “According to our Constitution, it is a fundamental duty of the Indian citizen to develop scientific temperament. Scientific temperament is a way of living and is not supposed to be limited to only scientists or academics,” he said adding “Journalists who question are being threatened, and in such times, it is even more difficult to do the work of standing for the right to question.”