An Indian minister describes the very public desecration [I use the term consciously] of some of the top scientists of the country, who were at the helm of one of the nation’s premier scientific institutions, as ‘a warning to the scientific community.’ How should one read this? As a threat to the people of science who had better recognise that in our democracy not all are equal? As a critique of the policy that gave primacy to scientific institutions in the belief that the country would benefit? As an advice to those who may want to do science in India that they had better know the politics before they know their subject?
Were the scientific community of India, thus warned by the minister, decide to put their pens down, take just half an hour off from work, on just one day, to contemplate on the ramifications of this dictum, where would the country be?
While the desirability of development in the form it has taken, and the semantics of what the term progress means or should mean are important questions, it is also true that our present levels of comfort and confidence owe much more to the scientific community than to the political establishment that has deemed it fit to issue the ‘warning.’