Thursday, October 29, 2015

Padma-winning scientists protest 'a rash of bigoted acts'







Full Text: Padma-winning scientists protest 'a rash of bigoted acts'
Photo Credit: Representational Image
Over 100 eminent and distinguished scientists issue a joint statement against 'intolerance and rejection of reason' by 'important functionaries of the government'.
 
Over 100 eminent and distinguished scientists, many of them recipients of Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awards, have issued a joint statement expressing their deep concern with the "climate of intolerance, and the ways in which science and reason are being eroded in the country".

"It is the same climate of intolerance, and rejection of reason that has led to the lynching in Dadri of Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi and the assassinations of Prof Kalburgi, Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Shri Govind Pansare," the scientists said in their statement, taking the government to task for a "rash of bigoted acts, attacks on minorities and Dalits, which show no signs of abating."

Invoking Article 51 A (h) of the the Indian Constitution, the scientists pointed out that it demands, as a part of the fundamental duties of the citizens, that we "...develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform."

"Unfortunately," they went on to add,  "What we are witnessing instead is the active promotion of irrational and sectarian thought by important functionaries of the government."

This statement follows another group of over 130 scientists who had urged President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday to take “suitable action” to stop incidents of “intolerance, polarisation and [the spreading] of communal hatred” from “taking our country, which has a rich heritage and cultural diversity, backwards.”

Earlier, artists and sociologists had expressed their support of over 35 writers across the country, representing several linguistic groups, who returned their Sahitya Akademi awards or resigned from their positions at the country's top literary body to protest what they perceived as the rising tide of intolerance and the shrinking space for free expression.

The avalanche of these protests was triggered off by Hindi writer Uday Prakash who was the first to return his award to Sahitya Akademi, which was soon followed by noted writer Nayantara Sahgal and former Lalit Kala Akademi chairman Ashok Vajpeyi.

"The writers have shown the way with their protests," the statement by scientists said. "We scientists now join our voices to theirs, to assert that the Indian people will not accept such attacks on reason, science and our plural culture. We reject the destructive narrow view of India that seeks to dictate what people will wear, think, eat and who they will love."

The full text of the statement is given below.
The scientific community is deeply concerned with the climate of intolerance, and the ways in which science and reason are being eroded in the country.

It is the same climate of intolerance, and rejection of reason that has led to the lynching in Dadri of Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi and the assassinations of Prof Kalburgi, Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Shri Govind Pansare. All three fought against superstition and obscurantism to build a scientific temper in our society. Prof Kalburgi was a renowned scholar and an authority on the Vachana literature associated with the 12th-century reformer Basava, who opposed institutionalised religion, caste and gender discrimination. Similarly, Dr Dabholkar and Shri Pansare promoted scientific temper through their fight against superstition and blind faith.

The Indian Constitution in Article 51 A (h) demands, as a part of the fundamental duties of the citizens, that we '...develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform'. Unfortunately, what we are witnessing instead is the active promotion of irrational and sectarian thought by important functionaries of the government.

The Indian civilisation is a truly plural one. We have always had many practices and communities that have allowed space for each other; we celebrate the festivals and anniversaries of all faiths. This unity and peace has now been disturbed by a rash of bigoted acts, attacks on minorities and Dalits, which show no signs of abating.

The writers have shown the way with their protests. We scientists now join our voices to theirs, to assert that the Indian people will not accept such attacks on reason, science and our plural culture. We reject the destructive narrow view of India that seeks to dictate what people will wear, think, eat and who they will love.

We appeal to all other sections of society to raise their voice against the assault on reason and scientific temper we are witnessing in India today.

The views expressed in the statement are individual and do not reflect views of the institution a signatory is affiliated to.

Dr Alladi Sitaram Visiting Professor, Chennai Mathematical Institute; Professor Emeritus, Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru
Dr Ashoke Sen, Padma Bhushan, Fellow of Royal Society (FRS), Distinguished Professor, Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad
Dr Ashok Jain, Former Director, National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS), New Delhi
Dr A Gopalakrishnan, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Government of India
Dr D Balasubramanian, Padma Shri Research Director, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, & former Director Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
Dr Madabusi Raghunathan, Padma Bhushan, Fellow of Royal Society (FRS), Professor, National Centre for Mathematics, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai
Dr PM Bhargava, Padma Bhushan, Former Director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad (one of the original signatories to the 1981 Scientific Temper Statement)
Dr P Balaram, Padma Bhushan, Former Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Dr Satyajit Mayor, Foreign Associate, US National Science Academy, Director, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr Spenta Wadia, Emeritus Professor and Founding Director, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr AP Balachandran, Joel Dorman Steele Professor of Physics (Emeritus), Physics Department, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA.
Dr Abhishek Dhar, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr Alak K Ray, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
Dr Alok Laddha, Chennai Mathematics Institute, Bangalore
Dr Amit Sengupta, National Convenor, Peoples Health Movement
Dr Anna George, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi
Dr Arnab Bhattacharya, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
Dr Arvind, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali
Dr Ashvin Vishvanath, University of California-Berkeley, USA
Dr Avinash Dhar, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr B Ravindran, Institute for Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar
Dr BLS Prakasa Rao, CR Rao Advanced Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Hyderabad
Dr B Ananthanarayan, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Dr B Rajeev, Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore
Dr B Ekbal, Former Vice Chancellor, Kerala University
Dr B Sury, Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru
Dr Chandrasekhar Khare, Fellow of Royal Society, Professor of Mathematics, University of California-Los Angeles, USA, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Mr D Raghunandan, Director, Centre of Technology and Development, New Delhi
Dr DP Sen Gupta, Visiting Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru
Dr Debashis Ghoshal, School of Physical Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Dr Dhruv Raina, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Dr Dilip Ahuja, Profesor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru
Dr Dinesh Abrol, Institute of Studies in Industrial. Development, New Delhi
Dr Dipendra Prasad, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
Dr Firoza Sutaria, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru
Dr Gadadhar Misra, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Dr Gautam Mandal, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
Dr Hema Murthy, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai
Dr Joseph Samuel, Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru
Dr Justin David, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Dr Kapil Paranjape, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali
Dr LS Shashidhara, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune
Dr Leena ChandranWadia, Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai
Dr MG Narasimhan, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru
Dr MRN Murthy, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Dr MVN Murthy, Professor Emeritus, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
Dr Madan Rao, Raman Research Institute and NCBS-TIFR, Bengaluru
Dr Mangal C Mahato, Department of Physics, North East Hill University, Shillong
Dr Nilmani Mathur, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
Dr P Ajith, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr Pallab Basu, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr Partha P Majumder, National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani
Dr Parthib Basu, Department of Zoology, Calcutta University, Kolkata
Mr Prabir Purkayastha, Chairperson, Knowledge Commons, New Delhi
Dr Prajit K Basu, Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Hyderabad
Dr Prajval Shastri, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru
Dr Pramathanath Sastry, Chennai Mathematical Institute, Chennai
Dr Pravabati Chinganbam, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru
Dr Probal Choudhuri, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata
Dr Purushottam Kulkarni, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai
Dr R Ramanujam, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
Dr R Shankar, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
Dr Rahul Roy, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi
Dr Rajat Tandon, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Hyderabad
Dr Rajesh Gopakumar, Director, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr Rama Govindarajan, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Hyderabad
Dr Ranjini Bandyopadhyay, Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru
Dr Ravinder Banyal, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru
Dr Riddhi Shah, School of Physical Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Dr Ronnie Sebastian, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune
Dr Rukmini Dey, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr S Chakrabarti, Department of Chemistry, Calcutta University, Kolkata
Dr S Ranganathan, National Institute of Advanced Studies Bengaluru
Dr Sabyasachi Chatterjee, Formerly Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru; and President All India Peoples Science Network
Dr Sachindeo Vaidya, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Dr Samriddhi Sankar Ray, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr Sandeep Krishna, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr Sanjib Sabhapandit, Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru
Dr Santanu Datta, Chief Scientific Officer, BUGWORKS Inc., Bengaluru
Dr Satyajit Rath, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi
Dr Saumen Datta, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
Dr Shamsher Singh, Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru
Dr Sharada Srinivasan, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru
Dr Shiraz Naval Minwalla, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
Dr Shrikrishna, G Dani Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai
Dr Shyamala Mani, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Dr Siva Athreya, Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru
Dr Sorab N Dalal, Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and
Education in Cancer, Navi Mumbai
Dr Sriram Ramaswamy, Director, TIFR Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Hyderabad
Dr Subhro Bhattacharjee, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,
Begaluru
Dr Sumati Surya, Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru
Dr Sumathi Rao, Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad.
Dr Sunil Mukhi, Indian Institute of Science Education and
Research, Pune
Dr Suresh Govindarajan, Dept of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology,
Chennai.
Dr Suvrat Raju, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,
Bengaluru
Dr T Jayaraman, School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social
Sciences, Mumbai
Dr TR Govindarajan, Chennai Mathematical Institute, Chennai
Ms Tejal Kanitkar, Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Dr Tiju Thomas, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai
Dr Todadri Senthil, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
Dr Vani VC, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Dr Venkatesh Athreya, Adjunct Professor, Asian College of Journalism, Chennai; formerly President All India Peoples
Science Network
Dr Vidita Vaidya, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
Dr Vijay Kumar, Krisnamurthy, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru
Dr Vineeta Bal, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi
Dr Vishal Vasan, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Dr Vivek Borkar, Institute Chair Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai

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