World Science Day is observed today as a global celebration to emphasise the pivotal role of science in our lives. It provides a unique opportunity to recognise the remarkable contributions of scientists, highlight the importance of scientific research, and promote the need for a society that embraces a culture of scientific inquiry and the role of science in facilitating the creation of sustainable and peaceful democracies. This day reminds us of the visionaries who championed scientific thinking and inspires us to reaffirm our commitment to nurturing this invaluable trait.
The term “scientific temper,” coined by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1946, has become synonymous with a rational, inquisitive, and evidence-based approach to understanding the universe. The scientific temper is an unwavering belief in the power of knowledge as well as the courage to question, investigate, and reform. It encourages us to adopt a critical, open-minded mindset and to embrace curiosity as a driving force for peace and progress.
Nehru was not only the architect of modern India but also a visionary who understood the importance of fostering a scientific spirit in our society. He recognised that embracing science and rational thinking was not just about technological advancement but a fundamental component of our nation’s growth and prosperity. As the first prime minister, he worked tirelessly and launched several initiatives to instill a scientific temper in our citizens, urging our leaders to share this vision.
Later, theconcept of scientific temper, championed byNehru,found its place in the Indian Constitution in1976,when the INC government introduced Article 51 A(h). This article made it a fundamental duty of every citizen to“develop scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform.”It became a cornerstone of our commitment to fostering scientific thinking and a culture of inquiry.
As we delve into Karnataka, it is important to recognise that our state has made significant strides in advancing the cause of scientific temper. In 2017, the previous Siddaramaiah government passed the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, landmark legislation aimed at ridding our state of superstitions and harmful practices. This significant move reinforced our state’s commitment to rationality and promoting scientific thinking.
Today, as a part of the government in Karnataka, we are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of scientific temper and constitutional patriotism further in our state. We are taking measures and implementing policies that create an enabling environment where scientific thinking is not only encouraged but celebrated.
Our commitment includes focusing on educational reforms that nurture scientific temperament in the learning process. We have announced the Karnataka State Research Foundation (KSRF), and we are setting up the Karnataka R&D Innovation Platform (E-KRDIP) to bring together stakeholders involved in research, business, and innovation.
As a Minister of Science and Technology, I firmly believe that science and technology are the driving forces for development and catalysts for peace and prosperity. We must continue to invest in research, innovation, and education to propel Karnataka and our nation to new heights.
On this World Science Day, we have a golden opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to inculcating a scientific temper in every citizen of Karnataka. Let us honour the legacies of our founding fathers by embracing a culture of inquiry, rationality, and progress. In the words of Dr Carl Sagan, “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” Let us embrace this way of thinking and continue to foster a culture of scientific temper, inquiry, and reform, thereby paving the way for a brighter and more prosperous Karnataka.
(The writer is Minister of Science and Technology, Government of Karnataka)
(Published 09 November 2023, 23:31 IST)