National Science Day: A day to embody the true spirit of science

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National Science Day: A day to embody the true spirit of science

  • The Government is organizing a Science Week “Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate” as a prelude to National Science Day.
  • It will commemorate Sir C.V. Raman’s discovery on light scattering.

National Science Day - Objectives

  • The programme is designed to make youth be proud about India’s scientific achievements.
  • This event celebrates the true spirit of science that defies all types of intellectual curtailments.
  • Also to promote critical thinking in our academic centers.

The Essence of Science

  • Science is a mosaic of partial and conflicting visions.
  • The one common element in these visions is rebellion against the restrictions imposed by the locally prevailing culture, Western or Eastern.
  • The vision of science is not specifically Western.
  • It is no more Western than it is Arab or Indian or Japanese or Chinese.
  • Arabs, Indians, Japanese and Chinese: a big share in the development of modern science.
  • Freeman Dyson(A prominent physicist of our times): In his book “The Scientist as Rebel”, makes a clear argument about why dissent is the soul of science.
  • “There is no such thing as a unique scientific vision, any more than there is a unique poetic vision”.
  • Omar Khayyam(Arab mathematician and astronomer): Science, a rebellion against the intellectual constraints of Islam.

The main takeaways from Dyson:

  1. Science is universal like music, dance or poetry, there is nothing like Indian, American or Chinese science.
  2. Science is an alliance of free spirits in all cultures rebelling against the local tyranny that each culture imposes on its children.
  3. Evidence-based modern science as an intellectual rebellion or as a form of dissent against social constraints.
  4. Examples: Islamic and the European renaissance of science of the Middle Ages, Reawakening in India around the 19th century.


  • What is true of science is also true of poetry.
  • Poetry was not invented by Westerners.
  • India has poetry older than Homer.
  • Poetry and science are gifts given to all of humanity.

Past and Present together

  • For Indian scientists in the past: Science was a double rebellion, against English domination as well as the fatalistic ethos of Hinduism.
  • This rebellious spirit led to a resurgence of science in India.
  • There is an ideological shift toward the right these days.
  • The academic freedom is now under greater pressure to tow the official line than ever before.
  • Science is an inherently subversive act: a threat to establishment of all kinds, whether it upends a long-standing scientific idea or it questions the received political wisdom or irrationality.
  • Such ideas must have played in the minds like Einstein and others when they turned the scientific theories upside down.
  • Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus: took a firm stand against the prevalent wisdom despite their religiosity.
  • Haldane(1957): began to refer to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as the Council for the Suppression of Independent Research.
  • Sudhir Kakar and Katharina Kakar: In their book “The Indians: Portrait of A People”, writes “Indians is Homo hierarchicus” - a term originally employed by Louis Dumont in his treatise on the Indian caste system.

India and Pseudoscience

  • The Indian family landscape is authoritarian and patriarchal, also benevolent to the obedient in its dealings.
  • Indians grow with a loss of self and learn to subsume our worth as an individual.
  • Indians are culturally tuned to uphold the family’s integrity, religion, caste and/or regional identity rather than her individual strengths.
  • Societies with patriarchal moorings automatically generate conditions for authoritarian rule & generating an ambience of fear.
  • It tends to feed the conceit of the rulers by inventing make-belief science or pseudoscience.

Need of the Hour

  • Tradition-bound countries such as India need to free themselves from the cultural chains of the past to foster original thinking.
  • Good humored disdain for perceived wisdom and disregard for authority(called ‘irreverence’) is important in science.
  • The cultural shifts are not easy to accomplish, particularly in a tradition bound society.
  • Scientists have a special duty to foster a free and unfettered intellectual ambience.
  • It can be done by actively engaging in the transformation of values both within and outside workplaces.
  • A fundamental challenge is how to strengthen social democratic norms within the institutes.


  • National Science Day should offer forums where freewheeling discussion of such themes are organized & epitomizing the true spirit of science.
  • Finally resulting in unleashing its tremendous transformative power.