Scientific Temper and India

Naveen Chandra Tiwari 


The unprecedented challenge that our country faces today in the wake of corona pandemic exposes the weakest aspect of our National Psyche. This virus has shown us the darkest side of our culture – our pre disposition to blind belief and vulnerability to frivolous and false propaganda . Not only vulnerability to become a victim of propaganda but also a proclivity to spread it without any sense of responsibility . With the result , every day since the outbreak of this disease we have been getting a dose of most absurd advises and ridiculous claims on social media . In the very first or second week of the outbreak of the pandemic some one claimed that an Indian scientist had already found the cure! Then as China and the rest of the world grappled with this enormous crises , the Indian social media with its Hindu brigade went abuzz about the cure all Amrit offered by our Holy cows . This was ably followed by our modern day sushrut and charak offering panacea in the form of concoctions of all kinds of plants and herbs . How could the witch Doctors and tantrik remain behind in this race to push the gullible and willing Indians into a dark alley to which even a virus will not be able to find its way? So a plethora of Trantra , mantra , japa and chanting advisories abound the Nation as we head towards a precipice!

I remember Jawahar Lal Nehru almost every day now. Wikipedia tells us that he was the Man who first used the phrase – Scientific Temper in 1946 !

I quote the entire article from Wikipedia in as desperate effort to rekindle the memory of the great philosopher leader :

“Scientific temper”
The Scientific temper is a way of life (defined in this context as an individual and social process of thinking and acting) which uses the scientific method and which may, consequently, include questioning, observing physical reality, testing, hypothesizing, analysing, and communicating (not necessarily in that order). “Scientific temper” describes an attitude which involves the application of logic. Discussion, argument and analysis are vital parts of scientific temper. Elements of fairness, equality and democracy are built into it.[1] Jawaharlal Nehru was the first to use the phrase in 1946.[2] He later gave a descriptive explanation:-

“[What is needed] is the scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on pre-conceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind—all this is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems.” —Jawaharlal Nehru (1946) The Discovery of India, p. 512

One Comment

  1. very engaging article sir, as a reader, I was so impressed that I could not restrain myself from sharing it to the social media platforms, and was surprised to see that people are debating on this. The debates even reached up to the level of exploring scientific temper in our first Education Minister Maulana Azad, and I am feeling happy to know that the article became the talking point that encouraged readers to explore more. Thanks and keep providing us food for thoughts.

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