Context:

  • On Wednesday July 9, 2017, scientists, students, educators and science enthusiasts marched in 25 Indian cities, demanding better propagation of the scientific temper — a fundamental duty listed in Article 51A (h) of the Constitution.

Introduction:

  • Breakthrough Science Society organsied ‘India March for Science’, with the demand for inclusion of development of scientific temper in the Fundamental Rights, rather than limit it to Fundamental Duties, and increased allocation of funds for science and technology.
  • 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.

Meaning of scientific temper:

  • Scientific temper is an attitude of logical thinking
  • The scientific temper is a way of life which uses the scientific method and which may, consequently include questioning, observing physical reality, testing, hypothesizing, analysis and communication.
  • The term ‘scientific temper’ was coined by the Jawaharlal Nehru in his book “The Discovery of India”, which was published in 1946.

Legal aspects:

  • Article 51A in the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976 says “ It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of enquiry and reform.

Need of scientific temper:

  • The objective is to create awareness that the future of the country is based on science.
  • Fastest uplift of mankind has been possible by scientific practices.
  • The scientific temper is important because this kind of attitude enable in general public the ability to take rational decision.
  • The development of scientific temper among the citizens is essential for the overall development of the nation.

Government spending on science and technology:

  • India spends a little under 0.9% of its GDP on science and technology.
  • In India, about 80% of the expenditure on science and technology is spent by the Government with the private sector contributing only about 20%.
  • In both these two indicators, India is a laggard compared to both the developed and the developing economies.
  • India’s scientific intensity is low which is reflected in the multitude of national rankings, such as Global Innovation Index, International Intellectual Property Index, Global Competitive Index, and Bloomberg Innovation Index etc.

Comparison of Spending on GDP with other Countries

  • As per information provided by Ministry of Science & Technology on 27.11.2014, the Indian investment in science and technology in terms of Gross expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) during 2011-12 has been 36.2 billion US$ Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) whereas China, the US and South Korea invested 205.4, 429.1 and 58.4 billion US$ PPP respectively.
  • India’s investment is higher than many countries such as Brazil 27.4, Canada 24.7 and Sweden 13.4, Mexico 8.1and Finland 7.9 billion US$ PPP during 2011-12.
  • In absolute terms, India’s national R&D expenditure during 2011-12 has been estimated to be of the order of Rs.72620.44 crore.
  • India invested 0.88% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards Research and Development (R&D) whereas USA and South Korea spent 2.76% and 4.04% respectively during 2011-12.
  • However, the private sector contribution in R&D as percentage of GDP in India is only one-third while two-third is being contributed by the public sector. The private sector participation in India’s R&D has not kept pace with many developed and emerging countries in the world.

Government initiatives:

  • The Kothari Commission (1964-66) felt that India’s development needs were better met by engineers and scientist than historians. The committee emphasized the need for developing scientific temper among the children.
  • National Education Policy, 1968, had also emphasized that with a view to accelerate the growth of national economy, the science education and research should receive high priority.
  • The Government of India, through the National Council for Science and Technology Communication dedicated the 28 February National Science Day.
  • The purpose is to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform

Challenges:

  • Financial support to even premier institutions like IITs, NIITs, and IISERs has been slashed.
  • Universities are facing shortage of funds to support research
  • The present allocation for science and research at 0.8% of GDP is very less, and demanded that at least three 0% should be allotted for better research and development.

Problems:

Though the numbers of efforts are being made for developing scientific temper among the students through school education system, but there are several problems and challenges in achieving the goal of providing minimum science for all.

  • The traditional chalk and talk method of teaching science which hardly creates any interest among the students towards science.
  • Lack of trained teachers and science communicators in the schools.
  • Lack of interactions between science communicators and teachers/students is another big challenge.
  • Science laboratories are not used for experimentation discovery.

How to boost scientific temper?

All major breakthroughs in human history have come through science. But unfortunately, a lot of non-scientific things are being introduced these days. In order to strengthen scientific temper following need to be done:

  • The youth should be clearly told the difference between science and fiction.
  • Ancient science should be viewed through the prism of modern science.
  • It is important to ensure that the education system imparts ideas that are supported by scientific evidence.
  • Aim of education should be to open up the mind.
  • Scientific courses in schools curriculum must be strengthened and the spread of unscientific ideas must be stopped.
  • The policies of government should be based on scientific evidence.
  • Corporate social responsibility funds should be channeled towards scientific research.
  • Make special efforts for developing scientific temper by organizing different types of programme

Conclusion:

For the overall development and growth of the country and society, it is necessary to develop scientific temper among all the people irrespective of their age, caste, creed, religion etc.  For desirable outcomes, one needs efficient management of the allocated resource and processes to ensure project success without fear of project failure. This requires a collaborative platform involving all stakeholders, such as, academic and scientific institutions, scientists, faculty members, industry, financial institutions and the Government.

 

 

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