Need for Scientific temper in Indian Youth

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Context: Recent incidents of divorcing a frog couple to the floods in Madhya Pradesh after their grand wedding two months ago, for rains, indicate that scientific temper as was mentioned in Article 51A as a fundamental duty has not been achieved even after 70 years of growth and development.

Relevance:
Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS I, III And IV-

  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women's organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems, and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

Meaning of scientific temper:
  • Scientific temper is an attitude of logical thinking.
  • The scientific temper is a way of life that uses the scientific method and which may, consequently include questioning, observing physical reality, testing, hypothesizing, analysis and communication.
  • The term ‘scientific temper’ was coined by the Jawaharlal Nehru in his book “The Discovery of India”, which was published in 1946.

Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the first persons to use and advocate this term, in Discovery of India. According to him, “…it is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems”. Discussion, argument and analysis are its vital parts.

Legal aspects:

  • Article 51A in the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976 says “ It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform.

Need for scientific temper:

  • The objective is to create awareness that the future of the country is based on science.
  • The fastest uplift of mankind has been possible by scientific practices.
  • Scientific temper is important because this kind of attitude enables in general public the ability to make a rational decision.
  • The development of scientific temper among the citizens is essential for the overall development of the nation.
Scientific knowledge Vs Scientific temper:

Scientific temper is different from scientific knowledge. Scientific temper is the application of scientific knowledge to day to day life. Example: If you know the astronomical and geographical details about planet mars, you have scientific knowledge. If you apply your knowledge of mars to debunk “mangal dosh” it is scientific temper.

It is true that not everyone is capable of affording higher education and acquire scientific knowledge. But scientific temper can be adopted by anyone disregarding their educational background. All you need to do is to not accept any claim/theory/advertisement without asking for proof and being yourself convinced of it. It is possible that when you do the thinking by yourself, you may go wrong. But that is better than not thinking at all.

Reasons for failure to develop the scientific temper:

  • Illiteracy:
    • Still millions of people are illiterate. About 25% of Indians are illiterate. This is a major hindrance to developing an attitude of scientific temper in Indians.
  • Women backwardness:
    • Indian women are still not fully empowered. And empowered educated women is must instill a scientific temper among their children and in the house.
  • Religion:
    • Often the structural rigidities have their roots in religion. These religious roots make it a daunting task as there are high chances of communal tension flaring up when these rigidities are challenged.
  • Orthodox Society:
    • The orthodox elements of Indian society restrict the inquisitiveness among the children. Thus the spirit of enquiry gets buried in childhood itself.
  • Education System:
    • The Indian education system is evolving into a platform for gaining employment rather than gaining knowledge. This restricts the spirit of enquiry.
  • Attitude:
    • Even the educated blindly follow the norms and superstitions due to a lack of spirit of inquiry. This results in the growth of superstitions blindly and it is trickling down from generation to generation.

Government spending on science and technology:

  • India spends a little under 0.9% of its GDP on science and technology.
  • In India, about 80% of the expenditure on science and technology is spent by the Government with the private sector contributing only about 20%.
  • In both these two indicators, India is a laggard compared to both the developed and the developing economies.
  • India’s scientific intensity is low which is reflected in the multitude of national rankings, such as the Global Innovation Index, International Intellectual Property Index, Global Competitive Index, and Bloomberg Innovation Index, etc.
Comparison of Spending on GDP with other Countries
  • As per information provided by Ministry of Science & Technology on 27.11.2014, the Indian investment in science and technology in terms of Gross expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) during 2011-12 has been 36.2 billion US$ Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) whereas China, the US and South Korea invested 205.4, 429.1 and 58.4 billion US$ PPP respectively.
  • India’s investment is higher than many countries such as Brazil 27.4, Canada 24.7 and Sweden 13.4, Mexico 8.1and Finland 7.9 billion US$ PPP during 2011-12.
  • In absolute terms, India’s national R&D expenditure during 2011-12 has been estimated to be of the order of Rs.72620.44 crore.
  • India invested 0.88% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards Research and Development (R&D) whereas the USA and South Korea spent 2.76% and 4.04% respectively during 2011-12.
  • However, the private sector contribution in R&D as a percentage of GDP in India is only one-third while two-third is being contributed by the public sector. The private sector participation in India’s R&D has not kept pace with many developed and emerging countries in the world.

Government initiatives:

  • The Kothari Commission (1964-66) felt that India’s development needs were better met by engineers and scientist than historians. The committee emphasized the need for developing scientific temper among the children.
  • National Education Policy, 1968, had also emphasized that with a view to accelerating the growth of the national economy, science education and research should receive high priority.
  • The Government of India, through the National Council for Science and Technology Communication, dedicated the 28 February National Science Day.
  • The purpose is to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
ATAL Innovation Mission
  • Ministry/ Department: NITI Ayog
  • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) including Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) is the Government of India’s endeavor to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Its objective is to serve as a platform for the promotion of world-class Innovation Hubs, Grand Challenges, Start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven areas.
  • The Atal Innovation Mission shall have two core functions:
  • Entrepreneurship promotion through Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs.
  • Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated

Challenges:

  • Financial support to even premier institutions like IITs, NIITs, and IISERs has been slashed.
  • Universities are facing a shortage of funds to support research
  • The present allocation for science and research at 0.8% of GDP is very less and demanded that at least three 0% should be allotted for better research and development.
  • Problems: Though the numbers of efforts are being made for developing scientific temper among the students through the school education system, but there are several problems and challenges in achieving the goal of providing minimum science for all.
  • The traditional chalk and talk method of teaching science which hardly creates any interest among the students towards science.
  • Lack of trained teachers and science communicators in the schools.
  • Lack of interactions between science communicators and teachers/students is another big challenge.
  • Science laboratories are not used for experimentation discovery.
  • How to boost scientific temper? All major breakthroughs in human history have come through science. But unfortunately, a lot of non-scientific things are being introduced these days. In order to strengthen scientific temper following need to be done:
  • The youth should be clearly told the difference between science and fiction.
  • Ancient science should be viewed through the prism of modern science.
  • It is important to ensure that the education system imparts ideas that are supported by scientific evidence.
  • Aim of education should be to open up the mind.
  • Scientific courses in the school curriculum must be strengthened and the spread of unscientific ideas must be stopped.
  • The policies of the government should be based on scientific evidence.
  • Corporate social responsibility funds should be channeled towards scientific research.
  • Make special efforts for developing scientific temper by organizing different types of program.

 

Measures to instill scientific temper among Indians:

  • Catch them young:
    • Scientific temper can be best developed during childhood in schools if education is imparted through means like stories, painting, recitation, games, group projects etc. so that children open up and are not afraid of asking questions to their teachers which strengthens their inquisitiveness.
  • Mid-level schools:
    • Students in colleges need to be placed in analytical situations through role-play, quizzes, model making, etc. where critical and rational thinking are needed. Making students aware of the impact of science on society by arranging visits to factories, hospitals, research laboratories, and encouraging them to participate in science exhibitions.
  • Reform of religious instruction:
    • Instead of countering religious teachings, the superstitious and orthodox elements in religious instructions should be discouraged by reviving the scientific Vedic learning, like philosophy of ‘Advait Vedanta’ or absolute monism which is more like modern science.
  • National Framework on Developing Scientific Culture:
    • Academicians, government experts, and scientists should collectively deliberate on a unified set of objective guidelines that define the contours of scientific temper and standards which should be followed by universities.
  • Strengthening local level institutions:
    • Spreading awareness about science and reasoning should start from rural areas through capacity building and scientific demonstration programs at Panchayats which can keep a check on activities like witchcraft etc.
  • Restraining public figures:
    • Public figures like politicians and professors are expected to uphold and disseminate scientific culture and in case of transgression, strict penal provisions should be instituted against them.

Scientific social responsibility:

Scientific social responsibility akin to corporate social responsibility, to connect the leading institutions with all stakeholders, including schools and colleges.

The idea is to create an environment for sharing ideas and resources by providing an opportunity to the brightest and best of brains in every corner of India to excel in science.

“This will ensure that our youth get high-end training and exposure to the best of science and technology to make them job-ready in a competitive world”.

 

Conclusion:

  • For the overall development and growth of the country and society, it is necessary to develop scientific temper among all the people irrespective of their age, caste, creed, religion, etc. 
  • For desirable outcomes, one needs efficient management of the allocated resource and processes to ensure project success without fear of project failure. This requires a collaborative platform involving all stakeholders, such as academic and scientific institutions, scientists, faculty members, industry, financial institutions and the Government.    



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