India March for Science's clarion call to 'give science its rightful due'
for main issue (with box) Express News Service@T'Puram Given the large number of scientific establishments in the state capital - the ISRO alone has three units - one couldn't be faulted for expecting a much larger turnout and more big names in science for the Thiruvananthapuram edition of 'India March for Science'. Still, the participation of science enthusiasts for the march, a nation-wide campaign to pressure the government to allocate more money to science and technology research and development(R&D), and to stop the propagation of 'unscientific and obscurantist' ideas and religious intolerance among other things was pretty impressive for a city which sees marches and processions day in and day out. The campaign here was led by Breakthrough Science Society, All India people's Science Network, Astro Kerala and Indian Writers' Forum. The march itself was a short one, from the front gate of Kerala State Central Library(Public Library) to the Kerala University's Palayam campus. But the message it sent out was loud and clear: 'give science its due'. Academician and MG University former vice chancellor,Rajan Gurukkal inaugurated the march. 'India March for Science' placed four demands before the government- allocate three per cent of the GDP for scientific and technological research and 10 per cent for education; develop scientific temper and stop propagation of obscurantist ideas; ensure the educational system imparts only ideas which have a scientific basis and enact policies based on evidence-based science. "We never expected such a large turnout. But the response was overwhelming," said P Radhakrishnan, former deputy director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and chairman of the organising committee. While the serving scientists in leading establishments were conspicuous by their absence, retired hands, school and engineering college students and science enthusiasts participated in large numbers. BOX Corporates' exploitation Capitalism has reduced science to an invention-driven activity focused solely on producing marketable products, academician and former Mahatma Gandhi University VC Rajan Gurukkal, who inaugurated the India March for Science, here on Wednesday said. "A shocking exploitation is going on in the name of science. The corporates are using science to carry out research to find out what all consumer products will be in demand by 2050. This is how the younger generation's creativity and zest for innovation are being exploited. Capitalism has transformed science from a discovery-driven enterprise to an invention-driven one. "It has transformed science into both goods and capital" Gurukkal said. Today, the scientific community has little time to tackle day-to-day issues like water shortage or the fever epidemic and it is high time we shifted focus to devise ways for dealing with our own problems, he said.