Special Correspondent

Centre for Inquiry, Secular Society of America conduct survey

Survey questions 1,100 Indian scientists

HYDERABAD: The very term ‘scientist’ conjures up the image of an individual who would not compromise with his/her rational thinking nor repose faith in systems and beliefs that do not stand scientific scrutiny.

But the survey conducted by Centre for Inquiry (India) in collaboration with Secular Society of America, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut State, USA, revealed that majority of Indian scientists are as pliable as the laymen in matters of religion, beliefs and sentiments.

The survey questioned 1,100 Indian scientists including 140 women working in universities, laboratories, medical institutions on their beliefs, culture and tradition.

Giving their views on the survey report at a media conference organised by Centre for Inquiry, scientist P. M. Bhargava felt such a dichotomy in the attitude of scientists would not augur well for the country. “Perhaps this is the reason why after C.V. Raman, no single Nobel prize was won by Indian scientists. The scientific outlook should not be confined to the specific field of research but should extend to all spheres of life,” he said. Chandana Chakravarthy, member of the Centre criticised that scientists were bringing their personal belief systems into institutions where they work.

Citing instances of ISRO scientists going to Tirupati to seek divine blessings before launch of satellite missions or those calling on Sri Satya Sai Baba, the CFI chairman N. Innaiah said this was against the spirit of Indian Constitution that emphasised on promotion of scientific temper among people for rooting out superstitions.

The survey report revealed that 50 per cent of scientists covered, believed in Homoeopathy, 49 per cent believe in power of prayer.

While 16 per cent believe in faith healing, 14 per cent have trust in Vasthu, astrology and 10 per cent in palmistry.

For an overwhelming 93 per cent of scientists ‘secularism’ meant tolerance for various religions and philosophies while 83 per cent said it meant separation of religion from State/Government.