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‘Differences of opinion are being sought to be settled by violence’

Eminent scientist Bhargava has condemned the ‘failure to nurture and promote scientific temper and basic research.’  

As the Narendra Modi govt. came under a severe attack from civil society for its ‘failure to address the rising intolerance and inability to maintain peace in society,’ eminent scientist P.M. Bhargava told The Hindu on Thursday that his decision to return the Padma Bhushan award was an individual act.

Mr. Bhargava blamed the government for its ‘failure to nurture and promote scientific temper and basic research.’ “The decision to cut budgetary support to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, premier R&D organisation, by half and directing the institute to earn its money effectively means the government will give no money to fund basic research. The move to ask industry to fund basic research is shocking as India has the third largest scientific manpower in the world.”

He also criticised the presence of the RSS in a function hosted by the CSIR. “BJP is the political front of the RSS which is running institutes of learning,”

Ten filmmakers, including Dibakar Banerjee, of Khosla Ka Ghosla fame, in a signed statement, drew attention to the ‘majoritarian intolerance’ the country has been witness to.

Their letter, addressed to the President and Prime Minister of India, urged them to protect the freedom of expression of each citizen.

The social scientists, historians and political scientists who criticised the government in a signed statement said that as Prime Minister, Mr. Modi should have asserted that the state would defend the rule of law. Their statement read: “In a country with some 4693 communities and over 415 living languages, each community is bound to have its own customs, including dietary choices. Individuals may also follow practices different from the ones followed by the majority of their community. Any attempt to impose a uniform belief or practice, on either individuals or communities, is antithetical to the freedom enshrined in the Constitution. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure this freedom.”

“Differences of opinion are being sought to be settled by using physical violence. Arguments are met not with counter arguments but with bullets,” read the statement signed by Professors Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, M.G.S. Narayanan, K.N. Panikkar and D.N. Jha among others.

The group also flayed the trend to ban books and expunge statements of history and urged the government to ensure an atmosphere that is conducive to free and fearless expression, and security for all sections of society.

Dr. Lalji Singh, VC, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and former Director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), recipient of Padma Shri, said: “There is no scientific temper in the country now.”