Scientists, educators, researchers and students assembled under the banner of the Mumbai chapter of the ‘India March for Science‘ movement at Wilson College to protest against governmental promotion of unscientific ideas in the curriculum.They also staged a poster demonstration at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
The protest demanded a review of changes in the NCERT curriculum, and termination of Indian Knowledge System courses recommended under the National Education Policy 2020 “for contradicting scientific evidence.”
Speakers included Padma Bhushan awardee Prof M S Raghunathan, mathematician Prof S. G Dani and Prof Sandhya Koushika from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR)
A public appeal from the organisation which is affiliated to the global March for Science, deplored the “reckless haste” with which the National Education Policy 2020 is being implemented, the introduction of “unscientific and fanciful subjects in the curriculum under the umbrella of the ‘Indian Knowledge System’, and the distortion of scientific facts and Indian history to propagate superstitious beliefs.
“Universities are under duress to commence courses in unscientific faith-based subjects like astrology even in medical education. Some, including a few IITs, have introduced courses in these directions.”
The appeal notes that this year, the Central Government-run NCERT dropped several important topics from the syllabus, including Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Mendeleev’s Periodic Table, the history of the Mughal period, and chapters on human rights and democracy.
It contends that the purpose of these changes is “to create obstacles to developing rational thinking among students. “
The appeal lamented that education and research in India has long been massively underfunded, and that allocation continues to decline every year. While most developed and developing countries spend 2.8 to 3.2 per cent of GDP on science and technology research, India spends less than 0.8%, much below the global average of 1.8 %.
The total allocation for the education sector in the financial year 2023-24 is Rs 1,12,899 crore — which is only 2.5% of the total budget. Expenditure in the science and technology sector has also been reduced. The Ministry of Science and Technology received a dismal Rs 16,361 crore (0.36%) out of the Union budget of Rs 45,03,097 crore.
“While research has been languishing across the country, government-sponsored research centres on Indian Knowledge Systems are being set up at various IITs and other educational institutions. They are publishing calendars promoting unscientific ideas,and holding conferences on cow science. Now the Union Government has announced plans for total centralization of the research-support system through the formation of a National Research Foundation (NRF), whose policy-making Board will be headed by the Prime Minister and other politicians.
To critique and raise awareness of governmental actions, the India March for Science movement organised various events in different cities including Chennai, Mysore, Anantpur ( in Andhra Pradesh ) and Mumbai to demand a quick cessation of propagation of unscientific and obscurantist ideas, and to underline the importance of developing scientific temper in conformity with Article 51A of the Constitution.
Also read: Universities should develop scientific & rational thinking, not religious & conservative ideas: SiddaramaiahPosted in News, States