This article is written by Bheeni Goyal from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. This article discusses the application of the scientific temperament in Public Policy for better development and growth of Indian Society.
The Constitution of our country in its 42nd Amendment of 1976 has included the scientific temper as the fundamental duty of every Indian Citizen, which provides as “ it shall be the duty of every citizen to develop the scientific temper, humanism, and spirit of inquiry and reforms.” The first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, had discovered the term Scientific Temperament in his book “Discovery of India” where he defined Scientific Temper as an attitude to have the ability to change one’s stand in the light of new evidence and not to accept anything without any proof.
Our nation has always made efforts to commit itself to the scientific temper and time and again, it has emphasized its importance. In 2013, the Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy was developed, which stressed on promotion of the scientific temper in all the sections of the society. Although our government has always made an effort to teach the promote scientific temperament among the Indian Citizens. Still, it has to go a long way to properly teach this temperament while developing the policy resolutions for achieving the socio-economic goals of the country.
Defining scientific temperament
Scientific Temperament involves a rational and scientific attitude towards understanding the solution to the problems which has been acquired purposefully and maintained consistently in the case of disturbing forces that are at work. It can be understood as the state of mind in which an individual makes decisions and acts in accordance with the rational belief which can be validated through experimentation or modeling. The concept of scientific temper is considered to be far away from reality and is considered to be significant only for the scientific community. Social reformers varying from Socrates, Buddha, in the ancient times to the rationalist movement led by Periyar in modern times, have used scientific temper for bringing a social change.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, in his book “Turning Points”, introduced the term Developmental Politics and provided that the scientific temperament can act as a basis for politics. This book has raised a very significant point that all the scientists having such temperaments are not against society. They just want to introduce a new way of validating and testing the beliefs that society has held for a very long time. All those societies who firmly believe in the scientific temperament and development of the technology will prosper for an extended period. Our country still lacks the application of scientific principles in any sort of planning or policy development. This temperament is indispensable if better lives are required to be assured to the people of our country, which is constrained by the resources.
Role of scientific temperament in public policy
Scientific temperament is considered to be too objective from the perspective of the society we are in. In our community, people still lack a deeper understanding of scientific temperament. The government has already tried to include scientific temper in the daily lives of the citizens by making it a fundamental duty. But still many people are blinded by old beliefs and still follow them without actually questioning why such practice exists in society, the question which arises is whether there are any scientific reasons behind it or not?
Our government, as well as the judiciary, are making an effort to take more and more scientific decisions and make such policies which are based on the concept as mentioned above. However, this is a difficult task for the government to bring a change in the ill-informed and stagnant thinking of many citizens.
Scientific temperament and planning
In modern times, it is necessary for the government and all those who are involved in the making of public policies to have the scientific temperament for better planning and development of our country. Planning consists of the allocation of the resources in such a manner that it is available to all the individuals, and it turns out to be beneficial for the citizens of our country. To achieve the socio-economic objectives, it has become imperative to implement this temperament in planning the policies for this country. Before inserting this concept into scientific planning, there is a need for a much clearer vision about society and its people.
Scientific temperament can become a part of the policy formation and plan through analyzing the performance of our nations, especially all the hardships and shortfalls that occurred in the past years. The implementation of policy with a scientific temper should be such that it respects the popular beliefs of the citizens, and at the same time, aim at making valuable changes in our society, which will lead to the path of growth. For that, even citizens are required to change their stagnant beliefs and cooperate with the government as well as the judiciary for their own country’s growth. It is the responsibility of educated people to support the decisions and policies which are implemented through scientific planning. However, some of the well-educated people hold more stagnant thinking than the less privileged ones.
In the case of Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers Association, a woman had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, to allow all women to enter the Sabarimala temple. The petitioner was challenging the age-old beliefs of their culture, where women from 10 to 50 years of age were not allowed to enter that temple and offer their prayers. She appealed to the Supreme Court to pass a judgment where the women should be given equal opportunity to follow their right to practice their religion. On that same day, when the case was filed, Kerala witnessed heavy rainfalls followed by floods. On the same day, the newly appointed board member of RBI had tweeted that just because the women have filed the case in the Supreme Court demanding to enter the temple, has displeased the god and he brought floods into their state.
Scientific temperament and self- reliance
There is a relationship between scientific temperament and becoming self-reliant. Our country is becoming self-reliant with the available technology and industrial infrastructure. The scientists and technologists can accept some real challenges and have them fulfilled. The nation is doing better in the field of atomic and nuclear energy etc. Our scientists are well aware of the prevailing conditions of the country as well. Even after being in the top ten industrialist nations in the world, we don’t enter into significant negotiations or contract with the developed country.
Self-reliance means that all the scientists who were involved in the research and development of any project should be involved in the negotiations and purchase of specific technologies. Suppose they are not included in the detailed discussions. In that case, they will not be aware of the performance characteristics, technical know-how, and all those areas which have a direct effect on technology choice. Then we cannot expect the scientists just to adapt the technology to our Indian conditions and accordingly implement specific policies. Generally, the members of the government who are involved in making such public policies, are given the responsibility to enter into such negotiations with the foreign companies.
It is not necessary that they might possess required technical know-how in this field and they can make such decisions which are not technological friendly concerning the condition of our country. Therefore, the scientists who are involved in the research and development of a particular project from the very beginning must be given more responsibility while entering into any such agreements involving technical know-how. This will enable them to help the policymakers for the implementation of better policies in this field, only after taking due consideration of the conditions concerning the technology.
Scientific temperament and education
In our country, a large section of society is still stuck in the web of superstitions and stagnant thinking. Therefore it is imperative to teach the scientific temperament among the citizens. Primarily it has become significant to include this in the curriculum and teaching of the children as childhood is the best time to teach such temperament in children. Therefore it is essential to add more such subjects which could increase the scientific knowledge of the children and help them in the overall development of their personality.
The educational policies should be aimed at expanding the creativity of the students by making the teaching more student-friendly and help in the overall development of students. Suppose some well-designed curricular activities are carried out in the school. In that case, it will help the children to assimilate the knowledge acquired through the practical observations in a scientific framework; thus, laying down a basis for the growth of a scientific perspective in the children.
- Scientific temper has provided the individuals with the capability and the freedom to question the authorities about any policy and tradition which still exists. One of the examples for this could be the case of Shayara Bano v. Union of India, where the petitioners questioned the long-aged practice of Triple Talaq.
- The way of teaching has undoubtedly been improved after including the scientific temperament in the curriculum and academics. The thinking of students nowadays is free from any kind of superstitions, and they have developed a logical perspective for everything. They try to find scientific logic behind every ideology or tradition. These students form the future of our country, and if they have developed such a personality, it would not be wrong to say that the future of this country is in great hands.
- Developing a scientific temper will surely help to eradicate the social evils and injustice to the minorities, including the system of casteism prevalent in our society.
- Most of the policymakers and the politicians to increase their vote banks include the stagnant ideologies and beliefs of the people in their public policies, and the government tends to give away in the popular public opinion rather than try to improve their thinking by including a more scientific approach to the various societal problems.
- In India, people still have an orthodox ideology and will not adhere to the scientifically obtained solutions.
- Even after seventy years of independence, Indian Scientists are working on tight budgets, and they don’t have resources like other nations for conducting scientific research.
Although a lot of efforts have been made to teach the scientific temperament in the policies as well as thinking of the individuals, still a lot of challenges are being faced even after the seventy-three years of independence. We as citizens have considerably failed to fulfill the fundamental duty which has been provided under Article 51 of the Constitution. All the policies which are formulated depend upon the social environment we are living in. The person who is making the policies should not necessarily have the required qualifications to include the scientific methods in their planning because they are also members of this social environment.
Even their thinking is being affected by the ideologies and mindset of the people around them. Therefore for developing such public policies, we need people who have the required technical knowledge and have different perspectives than the popular ideologies that exist around them. To achieve the socio-economic goals and for the development of the society, it is necessary to teach the scientific temperament in the public policies so that all the individuals can broaden their perspective and lead a better life. This responsibility lies in the hands of the authorities who are involved in developing such policies because, without proper authorization and command, it would be difficult for the people living in a conservative society to change their superstitious beliefs.
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