Modern India and The Slaughter of Science
India is the largest democracy in the world, having a population of 133.92 crores (as of 2017). This vast population comprises of a number of people belonging to different religions, castes and tribes. This complex amalgamation of different ideologies, beliefs and lifestyles, evolving together over hundreds of years, despite conflicts and confrontations, is no mean feat. Article 25-28 of the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion to every person, which plays a vital role in fostering and sustaining harmony among such a varied and heterogeneous community. In the absence of such freedom, the existence and survival of so many different groups is unimaginable.
Yet, for all its efforts in ensuring the peaceful coexistence of groups of people, the direction in which the country has recently been moving is appalling, to say the least. The eternal war between science and religion, modernity and tradition, has taken a unique form in this land of contradictions. Here, in this land, where you can find scientists performing pujas, before going to work, and religious leaders toting the latest smartphone models, there are some who seek to destroy this delicate balance between the old and new.
Modern India has a number of people, who are ready and willing, to not only accept, but themselves promote unproven and non-scientific facts and ideas. The battle between science and religion only becomes more complex, when the very leaders, who should strive to rid the society of unscientific ideas become instrumental in spreading half-truths and in some cases, outright lies. By its very definition, science cannot state anything as the truth unless it can prove it. Claiming age old, unverified and untested theories as being scientific, without at least first testing them, will only serve to mislead the public. Disregarding scientific facts and data, simply because it does not suit one's ideology or beliefs, is indicative of narrow-mindedness.
Some of the country's leaders especially guilty of this, with their far-right ideology and traditional mindset. Such political leaders, have in fact, taken various measures to promote unscientific or pseudo-scientific methods, while simultaneously showing utter disregard, and even contempt for real science. Not only Science, but History too has not been left untouched. Attempts have been made to remove important chapters from school textbooks, to publicly denounce significant scientific and historical facts, and to encourage quasi-scientific ideas as true. People working for the growth and adoption of a scientific mindset are attacked by the orthodox, to the extent that they are murdered for fighting superstition and non-scientific beliefs and prejudices. All these endeavors serve to fulfill the agenda of only a certain section of people in giving India's past and present a particular colour. However, this ruthless campaign against science is not restricted to the realm of politics and political leaders only. Even individuals and groups, having a particular bent of mind, working in various spheres of the society, strive to reshape the society in an image that would suit their needs.
Science, for its own part, is not an offensive force, and contrary to what these individuals and groups would have the community believe, does not exist for the purpose of besmirching the country's traditions and culture. All it seeks is to study and discover reasons for occurrence of natural phenomenon. This it does, while staying neutral, neither working against or for, any ulterior motive. Nonetheless, it is made the scapegoat, when its discoveries and findings do not subscribe to long established customs and norms, even though those norms only serve to reinforce social evils like the division of society into various castes. It is ironic, how those very groups and individuals, who oppose and deny scientific teachings, are ready and eager to mould events and incidents lacking empirical evidence, to depict them as scientific. However, attributing phenomenon which have no basis in hard facts, and lack verifiable evidence, to science, for the sake of portraying our own past or present glory, is a vain and pointless effort.
When viewed with a detached perspective, it is possible for one to be amazed at the sheer absurdity of it all. While the world is busy making discoveries and inventions to astound us all, a fraction of our own country's political leaders, educators, religious gurus and citizenry, are busy making false claims about phenomena that cannot be proven. At present, India is a steadily growing power, with an increasingly important role in international affairs. However, if true scientific thinking is not nurtured and promoted, and our leaders and saints keep on making declarations in order to bask in the glory of a long gone period, it could not only lead to a major embarrassment for the country, but also cost it its reputation as a growing power.
It is time to let go of half-true notions and ideas. Time to stop falsely professing legends and myths lacking hard evidence, as scientific truths. Time to stop opposing scientific methods, and stop denying proven facts. It is time, to open our eyes, and prevent the slaughter of science.
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