Bangalore: The Government should not yield to the campaign for privatisation of education and continue to actively support this vital sector, said C.N.R. Rao, honorary president of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research.
Delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of a two-day seminar on scientific temper organised by the National Book Trust on its 50th anniversary, he said there was a tendency to dismiss any argument in favour of public sector participation as a “socialist tendency”.
But there was no alternative to it in a country such as India, he added, since the needs of the common man could only be met by the public sector. Contrary to popular opinion, some of the highest quality programmes in the United States and England were government-supported and not privately-run businesses, he said.
The growth of a city like Bangalore, Dr. Rao said, was a reflection of the “distorted priorities”. Sudden industrialisation had resulted in a culture where malls dominated and the cityscape and big signboards had masked the skyline.
“How can you forget that 35 per cent of women in Bangalore are illiterate?” he asked.
Referring to criticism by the IT industries about the failure of the Government to provide infrastructure and other facilities, he suggested that rich businesses should think of doing something in return to society. While IT sector claimed that only 25 per cent of engineering graduates were employable, it had not thought of starting a university or institute to benefit common people, he added.
There was a proposal to start a television channel with exclusive science education content, Dr. Rao said.
He had held discussions with the Prime Minister in this regard and would soon initiate discussion with Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh too, he added. The channel would be different from channels such as National Geographic or Discovery and reach even the most remote rural pockets, he said.
P.M. Bhargava, scientist and former Vice-Chairperson of the Knowledge Commission, said that there was little effort to inculcate scientific temper though it is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Scientific temper, he added, was hard to come by even within the community of scientists.
The Kannada version of the series on science for children, “Vijnana Kaliyona”, was released at the seminar. The seminar at Satish Dhawan Auditrium on the IISc campus will have a series of papers presented on the theme of scientific temper on Sunday.