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India: ’Politics and religious ideology should not intrude into science’

Friday 20 March 2015, by siawi3

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/specially-touched-says-venki/article7012241.ece

News
LONDON, March 19, 2015
Updated: March 20, 2015 00:31 IST

Parvathi Menon

“Science is about investigation based on facts and experiments”, says Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan, President Elect of the Royal Society

“There is no room for political, personal or religious ideologies in science,” Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan, President Elect of the Royal Society, told The Hindu. “Science is about investigation based on facts and experiments. Above all, it should be a meritocracy, and that is very important to foster good science in India."

Articulating some of his concerns about the future of science in India, the Nobel Laureate said that that above all science needs stable funding and scientists need to be properly remunerated. “They are choosing a life of scholarship which involves a lot of hard work, and it is only right that you reward these very bright people with at least a decent and stable life,” he said.

“I heard that some nonsense was spouted at the Indian Science Congress by people who are ideologically driven,” he said. “What was astonishing to me is that the Indian science establishment did not speak out instantly and strongly about it. That needs to happen. I don’t have a problem with any government, including the current one. However, governments and scientists in India need to ensure that politics and religious ideology do not intrude into science. They belong to separate spheres and if they are not kept separate, it is science in India and the country as a whole that will suffer.”

Dr. Ramakrishnan identified the National Centre of Biological Science in Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and IISER, Pune, as “positive examples” of how science is being done in India today. He had special words of praise for the NCBS for its high standards of science and encouragement of young scientists, attributing these features to the leadership traditions set by its visionary Founder Director and eminent scientist, Obaid Siddiqui. This continued under K. VijayRaghavan (who subsequently left to become Director of Department of Bio-technology), and by the present Director, Satyajit Mayor. The IISc, he added, “also has a long democratic tradition of doing science.”

Dr. Ramakrishnan called upon scientists and governments to consult with each other over how best to establish priority areas in science and spending levels, but then leave it to scientific experts on how to implement these decisions without further interference.