CHEE!

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.’

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2 thoughts on “CHEE!

  1. Yes, the spat is ugly. But this spat is commercial, it is not really scientific. It is not about academic fraud or competence. It is about questioning of the business and administrative decisions taken by a person at a very high Government posts, who happens to be a scientist. This is not government against scientists. It is not a scientific policy making row, where government in itself is too incompetent to doubt wisdom and vision of a of a top scientist. It is about business and commercial transaction. In Indian media, conflicts are usually painted black and white and many times out of context. I don’t think it is really a Govt Vs Scientist spat. Indian Govt has neither vision not interest in science or scientist enough to pick a bone on science. But they are interested in business and surely govt would like to get involved And i do believe that in democracy with multiple counterweights, no person, however much respected and revered he or she is, should be beyond any scrutiny.

  2. The politics of this doesn’t matter to me: I’m a political greenhorn and choose to remain that way. The question is more about the denial of the history of scientific endeavour in India. By issuing a ‘warning’ that was carried across all kinds of waves – thanks to science and its people – the minister was showing utter disregard for this history. And a nation [equally an individual] is doomed when it chooses to rebuild from scratch every time a crisis strikes, rather than build on the gifts [lessons could be gifts too, if you learn from them] of history.

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