Scientists join hands with writers over intolerance

'Exemplary punishment be given to trespassers of rights'

Scientists join hands with writers over intolerance

Scientists have now come out in the open protesting against the prevailing mood of intolerance in society that led to murder of Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and the Dadri lynching.

“Exemplary punishment be given to such trespassers of reason and rights,” stated the Inter Academy Panel on Ethics in Science (IAPES), constituted jointly by three science academies — Indian National Science Academy (INSA), Indian Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Sciences.

While the statement does not make specific references to any incident, several panel members who drafted the statement told Deccan Herald that both these incidents were the trigger.

In a parallel move, a signature campaign is going on among the scientific community in Bengaluru as another statement against the prevailing tendency of intolerance is likely to be released.
“The Bengaluru statement is stronger in expression and close to 70 scientists have already signed it,” said another scientist.

Asserting that the Constitution demands citizens to abide and uphold reason and scientific temper, the IAPES stated: “We note with sadness and growing anxiety several statements and actions which run counter to this constitutional requirement of every citizen.”

These academies receive government funding for their operations.

“We can't take this atmosphere of intolerance. Freedom of expression, rational thinking and scientific temper need to be brought back,” said one of the members. Scientific temper encompasses rationality, rights and responsibility in equal measure, notes the statement.

IAPES is chaired by D Balasubramanian, former director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, who currently heads the research activities at the L V Prasad Eye Institute.

Other members of the panel are S K Joshi, former director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; M Vijayan, former president of INSA, and Indira Nath, former professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi. The statement quotes Rabindranath Tagore's famous poem “Where the Mind is Without Fear”, to underline that India as a nation must promote knowledge without fear and words would come out from the depth of truth.

The move comes after more than 30 writers returned their Sahitya Akademi awards protesting against these incidents that fuel communal tension and feeling of hatred in society.

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