In a follow-up to the mammoth ‘March for Science’ in April this year, a section of Indian scientists is gearing up to supplement the global effort with pan-India rallies on August 9, to press for higher funds allocation for basic research.
The march is scheduled in at least 15 cities including New Delhi, Kolkata, Benguluru, and is in response to appeals by eminent scientists and activists, including late P.M. Bhargava.
The appeal notes: “Science in India is facing the danger of being eclipsed by a rising wave of unscientific beliefs and religious bigotry, and scientific research is suffering serious setback due to dwindling governmental support.”
The scientists participating in the march would demand curbing propagation of “unscientific, obscurantist ideas and religious intolerance”.
They are also set to protest the slashed funding to research and bat for allocation of at least three per cent of the GDP to scientific and technological research and 10 per cent towards education.
“We note with deep concern that financial support to even premier institutions like IITs, NITs, and IISERs has been slashed. Universities are facing shortage of funds to adequately support scientific research.”
“Research funding agencies like DST, DBT and CSIR are reportedly impacted by reduced governmental support. Scientists in government laboratories are being asked to generate a part of their salary by selling their inventions and from other sources,” the appeal says.
Spearheaded by Breakthrough Science Society (BSS), the gatherings would see the members of scientific community standing in “defence of science and scientific attitude in an open and visible manner as done by scientists and science enthusiasts worldwide”.
In Kolkata, a rally would be organised from Calcutta University Rajabazar Science College campus in north of the city to Esplanade in the city’s centre.
“Requests are pouring in to organise marches in other cities (even small towns) as well. In each of these places, committees of scientists are being formed to decide the specifics of each march,” Soumitro Banerjee from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, told IANS.
On Earth Day on April 22, scientists ditched their labs and hit the streets in over 600 cities, in what was dubbed as the largest ever protest by science advocates against US President Donald Trump.
The march was seen by international organisers as “a global effort to push back against a political climate that has become increasingly hostile toward sound, evidence-based science and its value to society.”