|Demand of the question|
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Discuss progress made by Indians towards inculcating a scientific temper.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Scientific temper represents the spirit of inquiry and as such involves the process of logical reasoning. Recent incidents of divorcing a frog couple to the floods in Madhya Pradesh after their grand wedding two months ago, for rains indicate that scientific temper as was mentioned in Article 51A as a fundamental duty has not been achieved even after 70 years of growth and development. One of the reasons for this is the poor education system and inability of our schools to inculcate scientific values in students.
Scientific temper in India- not much achieved:
- Response to coronavirus: Recently it was seen astrologers claiming that SARS-CoV-2 was caused by the conjunction of Rahu and Ketu. Some swamis are convinced that the cure lies in propitiating the virus by performing rituals, accompanied by a cocktail of cow urine, dung and ghee.
- Killing of rationalist thinkers: Rationalist thinkers like Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare were killed for their crusade against superstition and orthodoxy in society.
- Women atrocities: As per NCRB data, between 2005 and 2015, more than 2000 women were killed in India following allegations of witchcraft.
- Superstition: Prevalence of ‘God-men’ catering to the educated middle class who even spread their superstitious ideas through media and social media is a glaring example of pseudo-scientific society.
Reasons for failure to develop the scientific temper:
- Illiteracy: Still millions of people are illiterate. About 25% Indians are illiterate. This is a major hindrance to developing an attitude of scientific temper in Indians.
- Women backwardness: Indian women are still not fully empowered. An empowered educated woman is must to instil a scientific temper among her children and in the house.
- Religion: Often the structural rigidities have their roots in religion. This religious roots makes it a daunting task as there are high chances of communal tension flaring up when these rigidities are challenged.
- Orthodox Society: The orthodox elements of the Indian society restrict inquisitiveness among the children. Thus the spirit of enquiry gets buried in childhood itself.
- Education System:The Indian education system is evolving into a platform of gaining employment rather than gaining knowledge. This restricts the spirit of enquiry.
- Attitude: Even the educated blindly follow the norms and superstitions due to lack of spirit of inquiry. This results in growing superstitions blindly and it is trickling down from generation to generation.
Measures to instil scientific temper among Indians:
- Catch them young: Scientific temper can be best developed during childhood in schools if education is imparted through means like stories, painting, recitation, games, group projects etc. so that children open up and are not afraid of asking questions to their teachers which strengthens their inquisitiveness.
- Mid-level schools: Students in colleges need to be placed in analytical situations through role play, quizzes, model making etc. where critical and rational thinking are needed. Making students aware of the impact of science on society by arranging visits to factories, hospitals, research laboratories, and encouraging them to participate in science exhibitions.
- Reform of religious instruction:Instead of countering religious teachings, the superstitious and orthodox elements in religious instructions should be discouraged by reviving the scientific Vedic learning, like philosophy of ‘Advait Vedanta’ or absolute monism which is more like modern science.
- National Framework on Developing Scientific Culture: Academicians, government experts, and scientists should collectively deliberate on a unified set of objective guidelines which define the contours of scientific temper and standards which should be followed by universities.
- Strengthening local level institutions: Spreading awareness about science and reasoning should start from rural areas through capacity building and scientific demonstration programs at Panchayats which can keep a check on activities like witchcraft etc.
- Restraining public figures:Public figures like politicians and professors are expected to uphold and disseminate scientific culture and in case of transgression strict penal provisions should be instituted against them.
India is the knowledge economy and IT capital of the world. The spirit of enquiry and reform are vital for success of make in India, Skill India or Digital India. India needs to shed its conservatism and embrace the spirit of enquiry and reform to encash human capital and transform them into demographic dividend.