What is scientific temper and how can it be inculcated among the people?

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Scientific Temper is a term first used and given by first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru. He coined this term in his book “Discovery of India “in page number 512 in 1946. Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) strongly believed into two wonderful concepts; freedom of speech and a nation with Scientific Temper but question is that what Scientific Temper means.

Scientific Temper is related to the mind of people, it is a process of thinking in surroundings and observing natural phenomena and questioning illogical and baseless activities and actions. It is natural way of thinking because everyone has curiosity from the day he was born as we see children questioning about everything therefore discussion, argument and analysis are vital points of scientific temper. It is inquisitiveness for learning from development around the world. It also means to think independently, understand and practice the scientific method in our daily lives.

Srirupa Roy in her book “Beyond belief: India and the politics of postcolonial nationalism” notes that Nehru’s emphasis on the need for scientific temper predated independence (p.123). The features of scientific temper were mainly two-fold as Roy elaborates:

  1. Scientific temper referred to a mentality or an outlook rather than a specialized body of knowledge. It addressed itself to Universalist concerns of “values of life” rather than to narrow and specialized questions of scientific research and application (Roy, p.124)
  2. Unlike scientific expertise alone, the project of scientific temper was a call for the diffusion of “science mindedness” throughout the population. The growth of scientific temper was measured by the extent to which ordinary people were using the methods of science to life’s problems (Roy, p.125)

It means that science only not played a role to develop scientific expertise but also played an important role to dismiss and reject baseless and illogical believe and superstition. India could become a great country if people adopted scientific temper but problem is that the scientist and educated people, who work in laboratories and make experiment, also act unscientifically and blindly when the leave their laboratories. This shows that even scientist and educated people also do not have scientific temper.

Some people think that there is conflict between scientific temper and religion but I personally think that there is no conflict and controversy between religion and science and scientific temper, rather religion support and promote scientific temper. In our eyes we see conflict between religion and scientific temper but it happened because of misinterpretations and misunderstandings, if we think deeply we will find no contradiction.

Advocates of Scientific Temper have often identified superstitions and religious beliefs as the main target of opposition. In this sense, Scientific Temper is an ‘ideology’ pitted against these religio-centric ideologies therefore scientist questioned the role of religion in destroying society and creating communal violence on the name of religion, on the other hand religious and humanitarians blamed science and questioned its role in harming the society, humanity and entire world through bombs and other means in wars. Blames from both sides are not correct. Neither religion nor science destruct and harm the society but politicians and self-interested created violence to get their aim and target.

We can promote and inculcate scientific temper among people and society simply changing our mind and some modification in our daily lives. It will be very useful if we start promoting science, technology and scientific temper from the beginning of a child’s life. Scientific Temper needs to be incorporated into the school curriculum at all stages so that the spirit of scientific inquiry can be inculcated from a young age. We can organize such activities which develop and improve the thinking power of students and they start questioning the things and activities. Syllabus and teachers should focus on overall development of the students’ personality by encouraging them to take part in such activities. A teacher should also have an urge to know about latest developments across the globe in order to pass on the same to students and prepare them to face challenges of present competitive world. A television channel dedicated to the spread of scientific temper should be operated with funding from the government. We can also promote scientific temper through several programs among the people.

Development of scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform are fundamental duty of every citizen of our country as per our constitution Section 51A. Here is problem that we only know and remember our rights and do not try to know and understand our duty. Our constitution stares everything; small and big because of that it is lardiest constitution in the world, but important thing is its implementation. We have to follow both scientific and humanistic temper as mentioned in constitution because imitating one and ignoring other destruct our society, if we take only science then humanity vanish and if we adopt only humanity then everyone became God. We should practice both scientific and humanistic temper in our lives.  The spread of scientific temper in the society is much more needed, because it understands human problems and solves in term of knowledge, it also provide a viable method of acquiring knowledge. The scientific temper may or may not lead to science, but it would lead to disagreement and friction created by extreme individualism in the name of spontaneity and independent-mindedness. If we all try to spread it wholeheartedly then we will hit our goal. Let hope for the best and spread scientific temper among the society and people.

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