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Karnataka: Parents associations threaten to protest if fee order is revoked

Scientists & teachers protest governmental promotion of unscientific ideas in curriculum

August 23, 2023
Ronita Torcato 
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.
 
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