For the last 200 years science has progressed a lot in multiple directions. From the orbits of atomic particles to the orbits of planets mankind has discovered immense number of things about themselves.
In Modern times the emphasis of nations about scientific superiority also led to great leaps in the direction of discovery. This kind of superiority has led to nations to provide good food, great health, communication and technological advances. However the scientific superiority which was a dream of mankind for a better life turned into a propaganda machine very quickly.
The cold war between American allies and the Russian Federation is a great example of using scientific superiority as propaganda. The race to reach the outer space and then to reach the moon was a big part of the propaganda that led to cold war between the two nations. It is also important to note that despite of using science as propaganda United States of America was able to create a society that was scientifically driven. Scientists and researchers have an important role in the society and they are being respected not only by the people but also by the government.
After Independence, Scientific superiority was a dream of India which led India to establish institutions like ISRO, IISc, IIT, IISER, CSIR etc with the help of pioneer scientists of India. Pandit J.L Nehru said:
“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”.
Another statesman Prime minister of India, Pandit Atal Bihar Vajpayee was also pledged 2% of GDP in research by 2007. One of the objectives of science policy 2003 under Mr Vajpayee’s government was:
To ensure that the message of science reaches every citizen of India, man and woman, young and old, so that we advance scientific temper, emerge as a progressive and enlightened society……….
The two statesman prime ministers had a dream of a society driven by science and scientific temper. It is saddening to see the use of science as a propaganda tool in the recent events in the launch of ASAT missile. The matter of proud for the scientific community was turned into a political event. The hypocrisy of the politicians lies in the fact that they were celebrating the launch of the ASAT and taking the credit on one side but on the other side, their behaviour towards the “Hike in research fellowship” movement was utterly shameful.
Everyone wants to take credit of the achievements of the scientists and the engineers but no one wants to address the issues that researchers face on a daily basis. A dream of scientifically driven society can only be fulfilled when the government will spend more into education and research & development. The scientific temper can only be nurtured when the people in power stop glorifying scientifically inappropriate anecdotes.
- Mritunjay Sharma finished his B.Sc (H) from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University in Chemistry. After that he went to England to study Masters in Polymer Material Science and Engineering from University of Manchester and consequently finished his PhD in Nuclear and Materials Chemistry from University of Manchester