6 minutes read

Strengthening democracy through scientific temper


Science can lift people out of poverty and cure disease. That, in turn, will reduce civil unrest.

Stephen Hawking

Let us start with reading the provisions of Article 51A(h) of the Indian constitution stated as “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. This is the fundamental duty of all in the most populous democracy of the world. The citizenry is empowered to decide the future in India. Though, the education system of the country has evolved to satiate the inquisitive minds seeking answers for why, how, and what in specific subject domains. But, for survival, everyone needs proper understanding, analytical capability, psychosocial and interpersonal skills to make informed decisions to lead a healthy and productive life. One should try to reason out different shades of belief and practices around in the society before accepting them realistically. India needs strengthening democracy through scientific temper

It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people … the future belongs to science and those who make friends with science.

Jawahar Lal Nehru

It has been evident that generally, people remain engaged in various activities in different garbs such as religion, culture, tradition, etc., But all of these activities may not hold good upon scientific scrutiny. Also, the science may not be able to answer various phenomenon/happenings and the same is treated as a miracle. The failure in getting a reply to the questions emanating from certain practices, processes, beliefs, traditions, etc. breeds the unscientific activities. This supernaturalism persuades people to do a lot of things mechanically while sacrificing their potential and resources.

May read: Democracy 2020: Are new ‘gods’ in the making?

Such dogmas of faith enjoy the power of hypnotizing human beings and yield worshipping cults. This absence of analyzing their own activities makes them blind followers likely to be misled by the intelligent ones with the abilities to do so. The social fabric of the country has been witnessing the exploitation, usurping the rights, lack of equity, etc. from time immemorial for which the lack of analytical ability appears to be one of the prominent reasons.  The stratification of society on a wide-ranging basis has been responsible for the skewed development and some sections have been constantly complaining about not getting their due. Without going into the specifics, it is evident that lesser education fuels more reliance on the beliefs and simply following whatever is propagated.  

Supernaturalism persuades people to do a lot of things mechanically while sacrificing their potential and resources

On a scientific note, it is beyond comprehension that mere prayers, rituals, blindly following the practices, etc. help in realizing the dreams. Rational thinking says that it is the competence and capability of the individual which helps and not the superstitious practices. However, irrespective of any activity termed as scientific or unscientific, human behavior is similar when it comes to own survival.

Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

For example, even the seers, conmen, soothsayers, clairvoyants, etc. when get unwell, resort to the remedies prescribed under medical science and not their tenets. The recent disruption in life across the world due to COVID-19 is the befitting example when nearly the whole world had come to standstill and people across the religion, geography, and culture locked themselves in the walls of houses to save lives. Even, all religious places considered hub of supernatural powers were locked for preventing the spread of the virus to its visitors.

May read: COVID-19 to Strengthen Scientific Temper

It has been the medical science which came upfront to rescue those affected by this minuscule virus, not any belief or dogmatic practice. Surprisingly, it is a rare sight when the whole fleet of seers, conmen, soothsayers, clairvoyants, etc. asked the community to stay home and follow the guidelines prescribed by the health care systems. This should be an eye-opener for every human being and nucleate the sense of rational thinking. Faith and belief should be limited to strengthening one and not to overburden the life by hindering scientific thinking.

COVID-19 should be an eye-opener for every human being and nucleate the sense of rational thinking, which says that it is the competence and capability of the individual which helps and not the superstitious practices.

Therefore, human beings should essentially have the tendency of questioning, observing physical reality, testing, hypothesizing, analyzing, and communicating accordingly. This attitude of thinking logically relates to the scientific temper. Scientific temper enables for discussion & arguments and accepting the reasonable propositions convincingly.  Nevertheless, it is the consequence of the scientific temper that led to human civilization undergoing a series of transformations up to the current digital age. Thus, the potential of scientific temper in society does not need further underlining.

May read: PM Modi stresses on inculcating scientific temper for nation’s development 

It is the vision of those involved in shaping our nation after independence that the promotion of scientific temper was included Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the constitution of the largest democracy of the world. This intent compels for every activity in the country to have a tinge of scientific temper. Any society running on faiths, superstitions, and beliefs cannot possibly march ahead in this era of technology.

Society has to accept that the propensity for cogent thinking will prospectively help in strengthening the democratic values of the nation full of diversities in all walks of life.

Especially, in a democratic country where counts of its citizens matter, the understanding and analysis of everything are bound to play a pivotal role. Hence, the community should enable the discussions among all with special facilitation to the millennial generation for encouraging the questioning and arguing based on the observations around. The rationality in the behavior of countrymen will eventually strengthen the quality of their participation in all domains essential for the survival and growth of the nation.  

Nothing is infallible. Nothing is binding forever. Everything is subject to inquiry and examination.

B. R. Ambedkar

Looking at the measures for promoting scientific temper points towards its inculcation in individual personality by practicing rationality in daily life, thinking in a scientific way, and approaching every situation with a particular independent outlook. Undoubtedly, the education system of the country has the onus of responsibly infusing the analytical capability by teaching in different programs at pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels. The facilitation of independent and creative thinking in children by teachers & parents in particular and the society, in general, will inevitably create the responsible human resource with scientific temper.

Introspecting the role of the formal education system in inculcating scientific temper, it is conspicuous that the education can only supplement in generating the scientific temper. It is not the education alone that can create a society with scientific temper rather exhaustive deliberations in the public domain are imperative to nurture the inquisitiveness in the upcoming generation. Everyone whether young or old should think reasonably and not carry on anything that fails the test of rationality. Society has to accept that the propensity for cogent thinking will prospectively help in strengthening the democratic values of the nation full of diversities in all walks of life.

Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.

B. R. Ambedkar

The all-important thing is to initiate public discourses through well-conceived opportunities to stimulate the scientific temper in all segments of the population across the country. For efficient deliveries in the democracy of around 1.33 billion population, there should not be any room for irrational thinking, else the country will lag in the present and an ensuing era of technology. Let every citizen be a potent contributor to the functioning of democracy through his or her scientific acumen.

About the author


7 thoughts on “Strengthening democracy through scientific temper

Your Thoughts