Sunday 26 January 2020

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Technology reviving superstition: Narlikar

 

Is advancement of science and technology helping the Indian society to progress in the social field ?

No ! On the contrary, it is helping revivalism of the blind beliefs and superstitions.

Dr Jayant Narlikar, a scientist of international repute, is pained at the changing scenario, which merely develops the scientific knowledge but not the scientific tamper.

He points out, to justify it, at the things like computerised horoscope and revivalism of vastushastra. "Both have no scientific basis, but are being strengthened with the help of technological advancement", he observes.

Neither astrology nor vastushastra, according to Dr Narlikar, is proved by science. "Horoscope cannot be accurate just because it is now made available on a computer", he says, but demands a conscious effort to build scientific tamper to counter it.

He expects the NGOs fighting superstitions to be persuasive and convincing in its approach rather than becoming aggressive. "The more you become aggressive, the more people will hold to their blind belief", he feels.

With the spread of media network and inventions in information technology, an incident like Lord Ganesh "drinking milk" spreads like wild fire all over the World. "But the media should also play a conscious role in moulding public opinion", he adds.

To being with, he expects the media to do a small thing. Like how cigarette packet has a warning on it stating that smoking is injurious to health, Dr Narlikar appeals to mention a line that "astrological forecast has no scientific basis" under the horoscope they publish or telecast.

But rather than adults, he has more hopes in the younger generation. "I have given up on adults of above 20 years", he says. Even the purpose of his Goa visit was to attend the children's science convention.

Merely adding some chapters related to scientific tamper in the curriculum would not help. Writing science fiction and other related literature, using theatre forms like street plays and taking them out on the field is more important, he asserts.

Dr Narlikar, who also heads the central government's western region committee for science museums, feels that the concept of museums should be changed to centres and children as well as adults visiting it should be encouraged to actually play with the exhibits.

"Let them learn with personal experience how science operates. Science is not meant only for those scientists who sit in the ivory tower. In the changing world, every common man needs to be familiar with it", says the soft-spoken scientist.

Rather than being proud of India producing large number of scientists in the World, he is more worried because they are not up to the mark in terms of quality. He is even more restless about the fact that the idea of becoming a scientist does not thrill the student community nowadays.

While stressing upon necessary political awakening in this regard, he also blames the faulty system India adopted soon after independence to isolate scientific research centres like the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Centre for Scientific Investigations and Research and Defence Science Academy from the universities.

Following many foreign countries, such centres should be made integral part of the university and the faculty while the student community should be encouraged to conduct research-oriented studies, asserts Dr Narlikar.






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