March For Science: India is also marching on Aug 9th

MISSION

The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. 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.

 

Demands

  1. Stop propagation of unscientific, obscurantist outdated ideas, and develop scientific temper, human values and spirit of inquiry in conformance with Article 51A of the Constitution.
  2. Allocate at least 10% of the Central Budget and 30% of the State budget to the education.
  3. Ensure that at least 3% of country’s GDP is used to support scientific and technological research.
  4. Ensure that the education system does not impart ideas that contradict scientific evidence.

Values 

Evidence-driven

We believe that the scientific method, and findings that result from its responsible use, are powerful tools for decision-making. As an organization, we base our political positions, advocacy and outreach efforts, and internal practices on best-available evidence. We also recognize that complex problems informed by science do not always have clear, scientifically-indicated solutions.

Inclusive

We integrate our commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion into all programming, outreach, and advocacy efforts. We advocate for policies enabling equal access to education, scientific careers, and scientific benefits, and work to support increasingly equitable scientific spaces. We amplify the work and voices of underrepresented scientists and members of underrepresented communities.

Nonpartisan

As nonpartisan political advocates, we act with the understanding that science does not belong to any political party, and that scientific evidence is an essential part of good policymaking at every level of government. As scientists and science supporters, we seek and present scientific consensuses, acknowledge substantive debates, conduct our work with transparency, and operate with integrity regardless of the political environment.

Transformative

We do not merely react to the problems of today: we look forward, aspiring toward an inclusive, integrated vision for the future of science and science policy. We pursue creative, experimental, and novel approaches to overcome the longstanding challenges that stand in the way of a critical and scientifically-engaged society.

Adaptive

We are a reflective and self-critical organization that prizes ongoing internal evaluation and correction. We invite feedback and encourage challenging conversations, we listen, and we commit ourselves to recognizing and addressing our biases. We seek to identify gaps in existing resources, evaluate and share the effectiveness of our efforts, and regularly collect and report stakeholder feedback.

 

 

*Please visit https://www.marchforscience.com/ to have a look on the global events.

**Please visit http://www.breakthrough-india.org/MFS2018/ to have a look on our last years MARCH

A Panel Discussion on Rational Thought And Social Change In Indian Society

Dear all,

We started the year with an engaging lecture by Subhojit Sen on the nature of scientific enquiry and we were happy to have had such a great participation at your end. And now we know you all are looking forward to our next engagement for the month of February. This time we join hands with Chetan Memorial Trust to bring to you a panel discussion on yet another important topic. We look forward to an overwhelming participation:

 

TopicRational Thought and Social change in Indian Society

Panelists:

Dr. Vivek Monteiro, Nav Nirmiti

Dr. T. Jayaraman, Professor, TISS

Dr. Aniket Sule, Faculty, HBCSE

Dr. Amol Dighe, Professor, TIFR

Chairperson: Nagarjuna G., Faculty, HBCSE

Schedule:          9th February 2019, Saturday

14:45-14:50 Introduction to Chetan Memorial Trust

14:50-15:00 Introduction to Curiosity Circle

15:00-15:45 Introduction to the Panelists and their brief address

15-45-17:00 Panel discussion and Q&A session

17:00-17:05 Vote of thanks

Venue: Multi Media Room (MMR)

             St. Xaviers College, Fort

[5 mins walking distance from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) (Central line) Railway station]

Entry is free

Curiosity Circle, a gathering of the public, meets once every month, on a second Saturday to engage with an eminent speaker on an idea, to understand how scientific exploration helps us to resolve some of the basic questions of society.

What is the talk on:

Faith and Reason have been the two major patterns of thinking in society. Society has witnessed a constant battle between these two patterns of thinking. We have also witnessed the social change towards equality. These struggles for better society, society with Equality have been harping on Rational thinking. In India the major inequality has been structured around the caste system. There have been struggles in Indian society which have aimed at society with equality.  During freedom movement we saw diverse tendencies. Ambedkar’s major struggles were for social justice and he resorted to Reason as the foundation for his campaigns throughout his life. Nehru was a major leader of freedom movement, a movement which aimed at a democratic, secular society. He articulated the need for scientific temper in our society, and this promotion of scientific temper also found place in our Constitution.

Democracy and social justice are intricately linked to each other. Rational thought has to provide the base for this journey towards the goals of Equality and Justice. We need to examine our social policies and the direction of scientific enterprise in this light. This will be the theme of the Panel discussion, which will bring out these themes and need to rectify the deviations from this basic need for progress in our society. Indian society in particular needs to focus its policies for uplift of the deprived sections, the victims of caste injustice among others.

The talk would be followed by another 45 mins of discussion. We would appreciate your presence for the talk and would be glad if you could bring along others who share similar interests.

Let us gather together to question our long held answers.

Thanking you,

On Nehru

Abhigyan Roy writes on Jawaharlal Nehru on his 129th birthday(14th Nov, 2018)

Today marks the 129th birth anniversary of the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Apart from being a towering figure in the Indian independence movement, he was also a man of immense appreciation for science. The cultivation of science and its benefits to humanity were crystal clear to Nehru even before independence. He became the first non-scientist to preside over the Indian Science Congress on December 26, 1937 where he thundered, “It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people.”

For Nehru, science was not merely an individual’s search for truth but it should be an integral part of one’s thinking and action. He was more interested in social consequences of science than science itself. He held that science has made it possible to view traditional beliefs in a new light based on facts and religion in its narrow sense discourages people in understanding natural processes rationally because it encourages “an uncritical credulousness, a reliance on the supernatural.” He was the first to use the phrase, “Scientific Temper” in his 1946 treatise, Discovery of India, where he propounded it as , “[What is needed] is the scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on pre-conceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind—all this is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems.” This was further enshrined in the constitution of independent India where, “To develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform” is one of the fundamental duties of the citizens of the Republic.

Great leaders don’t just envision the future, they create it and independent India, freed from the shackles of colonialism, had in Nehru, a visionary leader who fervently dared to dream and even believed that rapid, but planned development, was the key to transforming his vast and impoverished land into a robust industrialized nation. He had the ‘impossible’ dream of transforming free India into a nation, which is first among equals in the developed world. He also dabbled in temple politics by constructing scientific research institutes, steel plants, power plants, dams to jumpstart scientific and industrial progress in independent India and heralding them as the “Temples of Modern India.” Men of great calibre were made priests at these estimable institutions. Sir Jnan Chandra Ghosh was the first director of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur which Nehru had hailed as a “fine monument of India, representing India’s urges, India’s future in the making” while PC Mahalanobis lead the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata and was a prominent member of the planning commission. Vikram Sarabhai, hailing from a family very close to Nehru, was the first chairman of Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), the precursor to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), whilst Alladi Ramakrishnan founded The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in Madras whereas the “father of research laboratories”, Dr. Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar, was the first Director-General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The man who occupied the altar of high priest was undoubtedly the father of Indian nuclear programme, Homi Bhabha, who was intimately close to Nehru and fondly addressed him as ‘Bhai’. Common ideals and aspirations for the young nation had forged a deep bond between the two men. The vision of a self-confident and modern India, compelled Bhabha to chart out a new course for Indian scientific research. In this he found a kindred spirit in Nehru and it was his encouragement that Bhabha drew upon repeatedly while building institution of international repute, in the form of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) into an, as well as in the setting up of the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Atomic Energy Establishment at Trombay. He also served as the member of the Indian Cabinet’s Scientific Advisory Committee and provided pivotal support to Sarabhai to set up the INCOSPAR at TIFR.
Bhabha in his talk, “Jawaharlal Nehru and Science”, broadcast on All India Radio on June 1, 1964, beautifully expounded on Nehru’s relationship with science. “For Jawaharlal Nehru the supreme task of the age was to lift mankind from its age-old state of bare subsistence to a social level which provided security, material plenty and above all the opportunities for fulfilment and a higher life to all. He knew that this aim could be achieved through, and only through, science and its application… He felt, quite rightly, that operating a steel mill or a chemical plant set up by foreign assistance hardly made the country an advanced and industrialised nation, any more than using a car or flying an aeroplane purchased from abroad. It is only when India has acquired the ability to design, fabricate and erect its own plants without foreign assistance that it will have become a truly advanced and industrialised country, and for this a much greater development of science and technology is still necessary. ‘We have to produce not only machines that are to be used,’ he said, ‘We want men who will design machines and improve them.’ Although not a practising scientist, Jawaharlal Nehru’s personality revealed throughout the essential attributes of the real man of science – his unquenched thirst for truth, his questing mind that admitted no man-made barriers, his essential humility, his constant willingness to learn and to teach.”

The Nehruvian vision of India was that of a modern nation with temples of high science, mammoth dams and mighty industries and he was undoubtedly India’s greatest institution builder. His India was also an egalitarian and liberal society, driven by reason and justice. This humanist, and historian, a patron of arts and letters, not only dreamt big, but also passionately set about creating the India of his dreams. He turned binaries into hyphens and hyphens into blends to create a smoothness where style and content didn’t separate like wheat and chaff. It is no exaggeration to say that Jawaharlal Nehru was truly the architect of post-independence India. Not without some shortcomings, but his contribution in laying down the path for a modern nation can’t be obscured by the din and rancour raging these days. Correcting Nehru and finding flaws in his vision is an industry, but the very vitality of the industry shows the sheer prescience and creativity of this man! As a gradual erosion of scientific temper takes place in the “New India” of today, it’s even more important to reminisce, especially to children, about the rich scientific legacy of the first prime minister rather than succumb to the onslaught of unscientific rhetoric that’s being peddled by people calling the shots today. On the birthday of the country’s best friend of science from amongst the political class, our veneration to this great man would be in embracing science and rationality just like he envisaged!


Abhigyan Roy is a student of Institute of Chemical Technology and a guy with a great enthusiasm towards the propagation of scientific compartment among the common masses.

ALL INDIA CONFERENCE-INTEGRATING SCIENCE WITH SOCIETY

INTEGRATING SCIENCE
WITH SOCIETY

15-16 December 2018
Gandhi Bhavan
Jadavpur University, Kolkata

Science has impacted our daily life in a myriad different ways. In today’s world many of the things which we have taken for granted, like instant light at the press of a button, are gifts from science. However, science is not about just technological development and innovation; science is a world-view; it is a particular way of looking at the material world; it has a distinct methodology of understanding the world around us; it inculcates a particular way of thinking and it has a social commitment. The philosophy of science is distinct from other categories of philosophy, ancient and modern. Unfortunately, our education system is almost entirely geared towards the technical aspects of science only; its methodology, its philosophy and world-view are given only a cursory treatment if at all. Our education particularly at the school level does not teach the learners to think rationally and act logically. As a result, though our Constitution enjoins the citizens to adopt and promote scientific temperament, virtues like rationality, objectivity and a robust skepticism have not taken a deep root in the psyche of the contemporary Indian society. Inevitably, there is a disconnect between society and science, which has proved to be detrimental both to the Indian society and the practice of science in India. Vast sections of the people are not able to lift themselves out of their degrading situation and the Indian science is languishing because of the lack of social support.

Breakthrough Science Society, a voluntary organization committed to science, culture and scientific outlook, has taken a small step for addressing this problem by planning to hold a National Conference on “Integrating Science with Society”.


Tentative session plan

First Day:

Inauguration (10AM)

Philosophy of Science (10.30AM-12.30PM): After the emergence of modern science, particularly over the last two centuries, there has been intense debate about the correct method of seeking truth. Schools of thought like materialism, idealism, positivism, post-modernism, and spiritualism have waged and are still waging battle for supremacy in the intellectual space. This session will seek the correct path in doing science. It will delve into issues like objectivity, falsifiability, reproducibility, causality, etc., and will discuss the complexity, uncertainty and humility in the enterprise of knowledge generation.
4 lectures: 25 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Cultivation of Scientific Temper (1.30PM-4PM): This session will discuss ways of inculcating scientific bent of mind among the common people. Issues like prevalent unscientific beliefs and superstitions, and ways of countering these with science will also be discussed.
5 lectures: 25 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Ethical Practice in Science (4.30PM-6.30PM): The cases of scientific misconduct are on the rise today. Unless the scientific community of India addresses this problem squarely, cases of unethical practice in science may tarnish the image of Indian science before the world community. This session will discuss the issues of scientific ethics and research misconduct (fabrication,distortion, plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results).
4 lectures: 25 mins talk + 5 min Q&A

Cultural programme (7PM-8.30PM): This will include a drama enacted by professional scientists

Second day:

Reforming Science Education (9.30AM-11.30AM): A persistent problem of the education system in India is that students learn science as a collection of subjects, as a set of information. Most students do not understand the way of thinking that science preaches and do not acquire a scientific temper. As a result, many people who have gone through the education system up to the highest level, still harbour many unscientific beliefs and superstitions. In that sense, our education system is not `scientific’. This session will discuss what changes should be brought in our education system to make it scientific.
4 talks: 25 min talk + 5 min Q&A

Panel Discussion “The role of scientists in society” (12 noon-1.30PM)
6 x 10 min talks + 30 min Q&A

Open Session (for the public): Problems facing development of scientific culture in India (3.00 PM-5.00PM)

For more details please visit http://breakthrough-india.org/iss2018/

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ORGANIZED BY: BREAKTHROUGH SCIENCE SOCIETY
8A Creek Lane, Kolkata 700014, WB, INDIA
A Voluntary Organization Committed to the Cause of Science, Culture and Scientific Outlook

 

Prof Ram Puniyani, speaking on ‘Science, Rational Thought and Justice in Indian Society’.

Prof Ram Puniyani, speaking on ‘Science, Rational Thought and Justice in Indian Society’ in the CC Talk at St. Xaviers college, Mumbai that marked the completion of one year of Curiosity Circle. Thank you all who were engaged with us in this journey.

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