From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : article 51 a
Mains level : scientific literacy
- India has not produced any Nobel Prize winner in science in the last 85 years — largely because of the lack of a scientific environment in the country.
What is scientific temper?
- Jawaharlal Nehru coined the term ‘scientific temper’; he defines it as an attitude of logical and rational thinking. An individual is considered to have scientific temper if she employs the scientific method when making decisions.
Why it is important?
- Scientific temper is very important for bringing forth a progressive society. It is free from superstitions. Irrational practices in developing the nation are in all aspects like political, economic and social.
- The vital parts of scientific temper are discussion, argument, and analysis. Various elements like fairness, equality, and democracy. The most important characteristic of a scientific temper is: – untiring search for truth with an open mind and spirit of inquiry.
Constitutional mandate of scientific temper
- In 1976, the Government of India reemphasised its commitment to cultivate scientific temper through a constitutional amendment (Article 51A).
- Article 51A in the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976 says “It shall be the duty of every citizen of Indian to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform.”
Importance of scientific temper in nation building
- Formation of public policy: Scientific temperament can become a part of the policy formation and plan through analyzing the performance of our nations, especially all the hardships and shortfalls that occurred in the past years.
- Self -Reliance: There is a relationship between scientific temperament and becoming self-reliant. Our country is becoming self-reliant with the available technology and industrial infrastructure.
- Quality education: It will help the children to assimilate the knowledge acquired through the practical observations in a scientific framework; thus, laying down a basis for the growth of a scientific perspective in the children.
Challenges before scientific temper
- Political unwillingness: Most of the policymakers and the politicians to increase their vote banks include the stagnant ideologies and beliefs of the people in their public policies, and the government tends to give away in the popular public opinion rather than try to improve their thinking by including a more scientific approach to the various societal problems.
- Prevalent orthodoxy: In India, people still have an orthodox ideology and will not adhere to the scientifically obtained solutions.
- Low budget: Even after seventy years of independence, Indian Scientists are working on tight budgets, and they don’t have resources like other nations for conducting scientific research.
- Pseudoscience: Pseudoscience is everywhere, whether in denying the science of climate change or the evolution theory that explains the secret of diversity that we see around us.
Value addition / case study / Innovation
An IIT Kanpur alumni Mr.Arvind Gupta tries to inculcate a spirit of inquiry among children through toys made from inexpensive everyday items.
What can be done?
- Directional efforts: Activities focused on school children can be undertaken like nature walks, visit to museums etc. ‘Science Express’, a collaborative effort of Ministry of railways and Ministry of Environment & Forests & Climate Change, is a progressive step because it provides a platform that can expose children and common people in far-flung areas of the country to scientific aspects of our everday life.
- Policy initiatives: Children’s Science Congress organized by National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) is a good way to encourage scientific temper in children.
- Public initiative: Civil Society organizations like, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) and Delhi Science Forum, which are People’s Science Movement, can also go a long way in boosting scientific temper amongst the community.
- From Sensationalism to Sensible Science Journalism:The media must monitor the content to discourage and limit superstition and blind belief.
- Scientific journalism: Science communicators do the critical job of bridging the gap between science, society, and policymakers. Science journalism should be promoted at the university level. Science agencies should fund science communication activities in their domains.
- From Exclusive to Inclusive Science: Inequitable participation concerning gender and social diversity must be eliminated. The ‘open source science’ or ‘open science’ movement includes, at the core, open access, open data, open-source, and available standards that offer unfettered dissemination of scientific discourse.
- Open science: Government has a significant role in facilitating open science and promoting and preserving a free-thinking, open-minded society.
- Let’s hope that someday all cultures free themselves from the shackles of blind faith with science likely to play a major hand in this endeavour. Unto a similar goal, we should celebrate India’s constitutional provision for the scientific temper and vigorously safeguard it.
Q. The shrinking space for scientific temper in India today is worrisome for some reasons. Do you think so? Identify these reasons and suggest way forward for scientific future of India.