At the time of writing, several students, professors, scientists, research scholars and science-enthusiasts would have participated in India’s March for Science, which was held on 9th August across different state capitals of India. This march was obviously an inspiration from the Global March for Science held on 22nd April in over 600 cities worldwide.
The Purpose of March of Science
The India March for Science focused on bringing under the notice of the government, the following key demands:
- Allocation of at least 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the Research sector of Science and Technology and 10% in the Education sector.
- Measures towards strict implementation of Article 51A (h) of the Indian Constitution, which states the following: “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”.
- To stop the practice of encouraging beliefs based out of unauthentic research and blind faith and superstitions.
- To make sure that the ideologies and studies imparted by the Education system are based on scientific and logical evidence.
- Implementation of new policies and regulations based on proper and authentic evidence based on scientific principles.
The Importance of Scientific Research
Going back into history, the time when the Human species first began to understand the power of Science was at the dawn of the Scientific Revolution, which brought new knowledge in the fields of Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, and Biology.
Since then, the scientific and technological advancements led us into the Industrial age which witnessed the invention of steam engines, to the Information age which made the use of computers and Internet services mainstream across the globe.
Now, at the present time, nearly every service we enjoy and cherish is the result of deep scientific research. Nearly every product of technology we use in our daily life is the result of extensive research and development. Take, for example, our smartphones. If various Phone manufacturers in the early 2000s stopped their research in making Mobile Phones better. We would never have been able to even think of devices such as those we are using now.
Taking another example, think about the competition between various companies in different sectors of the market. The Automobile Industry, for instance, has many companies fighting to have the largest base of Customers. If every company uses the same engine, same design, and same body concept, then there would be nothing a company could do to attract more consumers.
Tesla wouldn’t have had such a rapid progress and recognition if it introduced standard petrol running manual transmission cars in a time when these vehicles were common. What made them stand out and grab the attention of consumers was their new technology of self-driving electric vehicles, which were supposed to make the lives of people easier than before.
With several global threats such as global warming looming over the planet. There is an urgent need for scientific research for bringing innovative solutions to the current problems harming our environment. Faith on gods and superstitions alone won’t make that possible. We need new methods and products such as Bio-energy and electric vehicles to make less use of rare or polluting elements such as Coal or fossil fuel.
Scientific Research and Development is also crucial for Business. There is an important reason why companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple invest so much of their revenue on Research & Development. Without new products consisting of some unique tech and features, no company could grab customers on the basis of advertisement alone. Thus scientific research is necessary for a company in order to gain customers and get ahead of the competition.
Why does Scientific Research have such a low focus in India
In most countries across the world, the total funding for Scientific and Technological Research is close to 2-4% of the Country’s GDP. In India, the funding is less than 1% of the total. Despite such a low funding though, Indian advancements in Science and Technology are highly commendable.
India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has the achievement of being the first nation to land a spacecraft on the Orbit of Mars at the first attempt itself and in a low budget of just $71 Million Dollars (which makes it the least-expensive mars mission). This achievement clearly signifies the potential of Indians in the field of Science and Technology.
What’s disappointing is the fact that despite so much potential, the professors and scientists leading India’s Scientific Research have no funds to elevate themselves to the next level and create the next major innovation in these fields. There are several reasons for this, a couple of which could be the following:
While advancements in Science and Technology could be helpful for any Business. It is not a business in itself. Therefore, investing in Scientific Research is a highly risky task. Research and development could sometimes take years, or even decades to finally bring out something which could be used to generate profits. Many firms and Governments thus are not always interested in spending lots of money in Research as the chances of a high yield are very low.
India is a diverse country consisting of communities with beliefs in different cultures, traditions, and religions. In the midst of all these, science finds a little value. Children are taught the cultural traditions way before their studies in School. Some of these cultural values that Children grow up learning have a few assumptions which are totally illogical and have no reasonable evidence.
The problem here is not with the culture, but with the false beliefs people end up having. Cultures, traditions, and religions have a lot of importance for the country and the communities within. But there are a few beliefs and false assumptions which needed to be rooted out of people’s minds, and make them have a ‘scientific temper’.
This term is an attitude, or a way of thinking, which allows people to question and analyze every information they get before making a logical assumption. With a scientific temper, a person won’t believe anything he sees or hears without proper application, knowledge, testing, and observation.
India is one of the most populated nations in the World. It consists of many young adults and growing children who can help in shaping the country’s future. If only people understand and encourage education and research among themselves and others like them, then the human resources of this country could be perfectly utilized to make the nation greater than ever before.