It was in 2017 when a comment on the popular discussion website—Reddit—triggered a worldwide event, bringing together people across various fields and cities to “March for Science.”
The comment on the Reddit thread read “There needs to be a Scientists’ March in Washington, D.C.”
The discussion thread came up after science was receiving some serious attack from the US government, especially from President Donald Trump. Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord and roll back regulations made by the Environmental Protection Agency, were actions that people were not about to take lightly.
What started off as a Facebook page to gather like-minded people, grew exponentially and there were about 3,00,000 members in two weeks!
All of them shared a single objective—to carry out an organised protest to defend science and scientific outlook against the onslaught from unscientific forces powered by important politicians and powerful officials.
Organised on Earth Day, April 22, the March For Science became an extensive global movement with an estimated 1.07 million participants.
The penultimate goal of the marches and rallies was to emphasise the significance of science and to call for evidence-based policy in the public’s best interest.
While the event was a huge success around the world, India was late to the party, and joined in on August 9th with only 15,000 scientists and students protesting for the lack of funding in research, and raising concerns about the government’s promotion of unscientific ideas.
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India has a habit of defying science not only in Bollywood movies but in real life as well. For example, according to an article published in Livemint, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi received around 50 proposals from top research institutions, including CSIR labs, to explore the benefits of panchagavya —a mixture of cow urine, dung, milk, ghee and curd.
This flow of proposals came after the government was pushing for research institutions to investigate the health benefits of cow products such as milk and urine.
In addition to instances like the above, statements from top government dismissing Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as ‘unscientific,’ and the AYUSH ministry wanting pregnant women to follow a ‘sattvic diet,’ are making many people wonder about the state of scientific temper in India.
According to the World Bank, India’s expenditure on research and development has remained stagnant at about 0.8 percent of the GDP over the last few years. Researchers have also emphasised on the need for better backing and financial support than ever before.
The March For Science held last year, called out for the following changes:
- Allocate at least 3% of GDP to scientific and technological research, and 10% towards education.
- Stop the propagation of unscientific, obscurantist outdated ideas, and develop scientific temper, human values and spirit of inquiry in conformance with Article 51A of the Constitution.
- Ensure that the education system does not impart ideas that contradict scientific evidence.
- Enact policies based on scientific evidence.
Sadly, none of these changes or demands have been met by the government.
This year, the March for Science will be conducted worldwide on April 14, and you can register here.
“We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good, and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest,” reads the official website.
For the first time, Indian scientists will march on the same day as those in over 600 cities across the globe. They will highlight the urgent need to safeguard science and build a scientific temper among the masses.
Here is a chance to prove that science is the future of humankind and principles outlined by groups without scientific basis will not further any advancements.
The event will be hosted across 16 cities in India, and is a must-attend for people who want to ensure that scientific thought is preserved and advanced for the benefit of the current and future generations.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)
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