Rationalism and Scientific Temper

Dr. Narendra Dabholkar

The All Pervading Superstition

Our country is steeped in superstition. We imbibe too many dos and donts since our childhood, almost all of them irrational and we are not even aware of it. We get up in the morning thinking of what day it is. If it happens to be a Saturday, we are expected not to start any new, good project for it will certainly prove a failure; if it is a Sunday women should not wash their hair as this act will lead to their brothers death; Tuesday is a day when new garments if worn for the first time catch fire because Tuesday (Mangalwar) is named after the Planet Mars that is a fiery planet and so on and so forth. For doing anything we have to find out an auspicious moment and wait for it. For every little thing we are ready to surrender to God and accept His Will. As if all this is not enough we need Babas, Gurus. Buvas, Matajis, Devijis to intervene between us and the Almighty as far as Hindus are concerned. The other religionists too have their own intermediaries of this type to tell them what they should or shouldnt do. Pujaris, Priests, Maulavis and such other parasites are ever ready to help us through this arduous journey of life. We are so enamoured of these godmen and their supernatural powers as well as their sweet soothing tongue that we gladly loose our ability to think and judge and question. This is about you and me, the common people.

Men in Power: But what about those who are in power, those who are responsible for shaping and cultivating our youth, our younger generations, the future of our nation? Our erstwhile Rashtrapati visited all the live deities that never fail their devotees to take a vow that he would visit them again on being elected President of India and religiously visited them again to fulfill his vows; of course with all the entourage of a Rashtrapati. Our ministers attend the birthday celebrations of many Babas and Buvas who claim to possess supernatural powers, that as some people say is very useful for money laundering and such other essential activities! One can quote innumerable examples of these great and powerful peoples superstitious behaviours.

Now about those who are shaping the pillars of our societys future.

Our Universities: Our universities, thankfully not all of them, have introduced a new subject-Astrology- mind you, not Astronomy, at the post graduate level. Attempts were made to introduce a novel subject, viz., Paurohitya in the University, the grand objective being the spread of our ancient Vedic culture and traditions and of course the ancient rituals all over the world. Vedic Mathematics, Vastushastra are in waiting to acquire a place in the annals of university education. Other obscure subjects like Reki, Transcendental meditation, Art of living and a number of Yogic therapies are gaining importance to day. It is not possible to deal with each of these fads separately but let us take the example of the ubiquitous Vastyshastra.

Vastu Shastra: As the very name implies it is a science of building. As per the claims of the Vastushastris, their fantastic remedial changes in buildings, small and big, guarantee these Vastushastra buffs all health, wealth and happiness. Many eminent scientists and technocrats, industrialists and businessmen, psychiatrists and surgeons, engineers and even architects themselves fall pray to this dubious science. They make many impractical and at times dangerous structural changes in their office buildings, industrial edifices and workshops, hotels and dwellings and what not, expecting that these changes will make them happy ever after. Those who are able to taste success, obviously because of their acumen, expertise and hard work, talk loudly about the efficacy of the ancient science. Those who dont, keep quiet because its not the science of Vastu that is to be blamed but the imperfect or half hearted following of it is what brought them misery. Quite a few buildings, it is said, are dangerously damaged because of the changes made according to the requirements of Vastushastra; leave alone the unnecessary expenses and inconveniences caused because of the changes.

Our Litterateurs: This whole lot of rich and powerful does not include our literary luminaries. They are not behind any of these eminent people in acquiescing with superstitious and irrational practices in the name of tradition. One has only to recollect the way the president of the Sahitya Sammelan defended the sacrifice of a buffalo for the success of the Sammelan without any untoward happenings. Can we then blame the ignorant, superstitious poor people who sacrifice laks of goats for appeasing their deities during the Jatras. I must mention here that in the recent Mandhar Dev Jatra goat sacrifice was banned, thanks to Maharashtra Government that finally woke up after the ghastly incident of the previous year when too many lives were lost.

The Bill: Now let us turn to the bill The Maharashtra Eradication of Black Magic and Evil Practices and Customs Act 2005 that was recently passed in the legislative assembly banning harmful superstitious practices. The bill seeks to prohibit practice, promotion and propagation of Black Magic. A comprehensive definition of the term practice of Black Magic contains the evil practices, customs, etc., and also the unauthorized and illegal practice of medicine or healing or curing by quacks, conmen and the so called godmen. Such practice is being made an offence under this act and to serve as a deterrent it is proposed to provide for a stringent penalty and punishment, making such a practice a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

The Bill also provides for the appointment of vigilance officers to detect and prevent such offences and collect evidence against the offenders. This will help to prosecute the offenders effectively. It provides for recognition of Social Organizations that are committed to social cause. They are expected to help achieve eradication of these evil practices and implementation of the provisions of law.

It empowers the court to convict and punish a person for committing an offence under this law.

Many people believe that making a law cannot eradicate blind faith and the exploitation of the poor and ignorant. What we need is awakening, education and economic well being of the people. No doubt, we need all this and many social organizations are creating awareness among the poor people and helping them to help themselves. But, you will surely agree with me that this is a long drawn process and gives respite to the unscrupulous conmen till people eventually become aware. Till then the conmen merrily go on with their nefarious activities. A law to stop these mal-practices and to bring the culprits to book will certainly accelerate the process of educating the people and creating awareness among them. It will also give teeth to organizations that are fighting superstition.

Miracles: We have entered the 21st century with a lot of pomp and show. We have successfully sent satellites in space and improved our communication facilities tremendously due to TV and innumerable channels of entertainment and news, weather forecasting, mobile telephones and what not. We have indigenously developed our own missiles and even nuclear weapons making us independent as far as the defence of our country is concerned. We have constructed big highways and small roads reaching many small towns and villages. We use tractors and fertilizers and hybrid seeds in our agriculture. We have most talented doctors and engineers, Technocrats and management experts, economists and entrepreneurs in our country. In the field of ET, great countries like USA are alarmed at our progress. The list can grow ad infinitum. But with all this advancement we also believe in all sorts of miracles. We believe that the Baba can obtain things from thin air by just waving his hands. He is able to bless his rich and powerful devotees gold chains, diamond rings and expensive Swiss watches. We believe that there are Christian missionaries endowed with supernatural powers to make a lame person walk, to make the deaf and dumb to hear and talk and to make a blind man see clearly. We still believe that persons with supernatural powers can operate and remove cancerous growths from a persons body solely with their blessed fingers without any instruments or anesthesia. That we believe in such things and encourage their perpetrators even though we are capable of much scientific and technological advancement is the greatest miracle! I believe this is the reason why India is still a backward country. Instead of looking forward we still look into our glorious past for support and sanction for any action. What are the reasons for this state of affairs?

Scientific Temper

Although we have eminent scientists and technocrats, we have failed to develop scientific temper as such in most of our scientists. No need to speak about common people who totally lack scientific temperament without which it is not possible to overcome blind faith and superstition. Let us see what scientific temperament means. Before finding out what is scientific temperament, we have to discuss how man has arrived at this enhanced state of intelligence.

Evolution of Man: Every one, except for a few adamant doctrinaires, agrees that man has evolved through millennia in the process of evolution from the lowliest animals. Scientists believe that the earth was born at least 4 billion years ago. 80 % of the time since then is called the Precambrian time. Bacteria are the first living things that existed since nearly 3 billion years ago. By the end of this period i.e. 1100 million years ago, Coral Jelly fish and worms lived in the sea. Cone bearing trees, fish, amphibians and reptiles appeared around 290 million years ago. Primitive apes and other mammals appeared 38 million years ago while modern human beings developed only 2 million years ago. But only in the last 10000 years have they tamed animals, developed agriculture and learned to use metals and coal. They are however progressing in leaps and bounds now. Why did it become possible for human beings, the weakest of all animals to surpass all other living things in such a short time? What are the factors responsible for this progress?

Mans Brain: The first factor that made it possible is the human brain. Man does not possess the biggest brain. His brain weighs only 1 kg while an elephants brain weighs 4 kg. But the crux of the matter is the proportionate weight of mans brain. The elephant that is around here on the earth for 40 million years has a 4 kg brain for his 4000 kg of body weight as compared to 1 1/2kg brain for 70 kg of an average mans body weight. Thus the elephants brain is 1/1000 i.e. 1% of his body weight as compared to mans brain which is 3/140 his body, i.e. 2.14% of his body weight. A human baby is born with an especially high ratio of 12% of brain mass to body mass.

Mans Opposable Thumb: Another important factor is the opposable thumb of man. His thumb can oppose and touch any of his fingers which facility no other primate is blessed with, although the human set of genes differs very little from that of the apes. This opposing thumb has made man a tool making animal. Starting from using a simple stick man progressed in making various tools and weapons acquiring control over his surroundings.

The Speech Organ: The third factor, equally important, is mans versatile voice box that makes speech possible. With the help of this voice box and his brain, not only did man build up language but also acquired the ability of abstract thinking. His thinking has historicity as well as teleology. His thinking is historically true as well as purposeful. All this has become possible because of the language that made accumulation of knowledge gained through thousands of years and hundreds of generations feasible. Apes are not able to build such a vast store of knowledge. Now man has developed very efficient means of acquiring and storing knowledge and retrieving it at the appropriate time and the gap between man and other creatures is widening giving man control over the existence of other species.

The larger brain, the opposing thumb and the voice box developed in consonance with each other, enhanced mans capacity to think, to investigate, to experiment and draw conclusions. But out of the 2 million years that man has been around on this planet earth, he began a settled life only about the last 10000 years ago. The earlier 1 million years of his existence were spent dwelling in caves. The invention of fire gave him some sort of security. Invention of agriculture brought stability in his life. But the Scientific Era ushered in around 500 years back due to the scientific temperament has revolutionized his life altogether.

Indian Inventions and Scientific Temper: Many patriotic Indians claim that the Scientific Outlook is nothing new to us. We had airplanes and atom bombs in the ancient times. We called them Pushpak Viman and Brahmastra. Granting this just for the sake of argument, the question arises where did all this technology that we are so proud of disappeared? And more importantly why such an advanced nation has now reached an abominable present state where many of our compatriots suffer from utter poverty, failure of crops for lack of water, power cuts and inadequate transport facility and other infrastructure? Whatever we had, although debatable was certainly not the philosophy of what we presently call the Scientific Temperament. What we did have were computations, estimates, conjectures and sometimes conclusions arrived at after long and consistent study and observations.

Indias Contribution in the Past: Through this endeavour India contributed considerably to the worlds knowledge reserve. The invention of zero by Bhaskaracharya that helped solve the difficulty in writing (or even thinking) of huge sums in mathematics; the discovery of combining copper, silver or gold to form amalgamates made by Nagarjuna, Amarsinhas classification of plants and animals, Sushrutas skill in surgery ( including the rudiments of what is called Plastic surgery today) and development of instruments that were required for it and the Ayurvedic Medicinal system have made great contribution to the progress of humanity and the world has acknowledged it. Varahmihir knew that the sun is a star and in the 5th century AD Arya Bhatta proposed that not the earth but the sun is the center around which the earth revolves. It was difficult for people in those days to understand how one can stand on the ground that is constantly moving under his feet or come back to his hearth and home after leaving it in the morning when the earth will carry it away. This discourse of refuting Aryabhattas proposition was a healthy sign of being mentally alert. But alas! It lasted only till the end of the 5th century.

The great contributions that India made till then were the outcome of meticulous observations, inferences drawn from experience and discussions. This process of thinking can not be called Scientific Temperament. After this, the next 11-12 centuries were simply barren as far as Science was concerned. There had been a few good kings, philosophers and littrateurs, but no scientists. The discourses carried out by Indians during this period consisted of traditions, rituals, religion, Philosophy or at the most politics. But the rest of the world was speedily going in a totally different direction. In 1550 the Portuguese brought the art of printing to Goa. But we took 300 years to bring this revolutionary invention to India.

What is Scientific Outlook: That our society should be devoid of scientific temperament was not acceptable to our Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. So she made an amendment to the constitution in 1976 to include a citizens responsibility into it. So far the constitution included only the rights of the citizens and among the responsibilities was the most important one, viz., Every citizen has the responsibility to propagate Scientific Outlook, Inquisitive Intellect and Humanism. Rajeev Gandhi included an important core factor in his Declaration on the Educational Policy. Inculcating Scientific Temperament was one of the main objectives of education according to it. Let us discuss in brief what is this Scientific Outlook or Temperament and why is it considered so important? It is not at all hard to find out what it is. We will go step by step with the constituents of Scientific Temperament.

All of us wittingly or unwittingly make use of it in our workaday life because whether we like it or not, we are born with the ability to think logically! It means that to believe in anything, we need evidence of its being true. A child will refuse to hold a burning piece of charcoal in his hands even if ordered to do so because he knows that it will burn his fingers through his own or some other persons experience; he has enough evidence to believe so. Scientific outlook will not let us believe in anything unless we have evidence to do so. Collecting enough evidence is an important constituent of this outlook.

Now the question arises as to how to verify the evidence that we collect. The method of doing this is called the Scientific Method. It consists of four factors: Observation, Reasoning, Inference and Verification. Verification has three aspects. It should be done directly. Secondly Verifying a fact just once is not enough. It should be verified again and again and found to be true every time provided the conditions are same. And thirdly verification should be possible at any place, any time and by any body which means it should be universal. So verification should fulfill these three conditions- it should be direct, duplicable and universal. Suppose for example, someone tells you that such and such Baba gives a charmed ring that gives an unemployed person a job within a month of his wearing that ring on his finger. Not only he but his friend too who worn that ring got a job within a month. Is this much evidence of its effectiveness enough? Certainly not. You need a large number of such cases to draw any conclusion. More over your friend does not tell you how many men and women wearing these rings did not get any job. But you can verify this claim by distributing several such enchanted rings to hundreds of unemployed young men, spread all over the country and tell them to use the rings and report if they do or dont get employment within a month. And again you will have to repeat this experiment several times to see whether you get results consistently at different periods of time. If the results of these tests repeated in time as well as places and by different people are statistically significant, then only can we say that the claim is true since our verification would be direct, duplicable and universal.

Then comes the stage of Experiment. After verifying the evidence one can draw conclusions which are to be tested again through experimentation. When proved repeatedly it becomes a theory. Again experimentation to test any theory should be possible for any body at any time any where. During the last century science has matured so much that theories are built not on the basis of direct observation and experience but through thought process. Einstein conceived his theory of special relativity not through direct experiment but through a Thought Experiment. Among other predictions, he predicted that as any body travels faster, approaching the speed of light, that body is compressed in the direction of motion, its mass increases and time as it experiences slows down. It has been proved by experience. Very accurate clocks carried in supersonic jet planes slow down a little compared to stationary clocks. Nuclear accelerators are designed to allow for the increase of mass with increasing speed; the accelerated particle would otherwise smash into the walls of the apparatus. But even this theory will be discarded if any evidence contradicting any of its prediction is made available. It is believed to be true only as long as it works and gives results.

This method of collecting and verifying facts, drawing conclusions from them, and constructing theories to be proved or disproved through further evidence and experimentation and thereby add to humanitys vast store of knowledge is Scientific Method. And those who use this method to acquire knowledge as a base for their belief do have a Scientific Temperament. Our ancient Astronomers, Chemists-Metallurgists, Mathematicians, Architects and Engineers, Ship Builders, Medicine Men, Surgeons and all were truly great men but they did not possess this scientific temperament. There was not much criticism, debate or discourse on their assumptions, inferences, finding or theories. Their theories were not put to use for the benefit of the common people. There was hardly any experimentation.

Even in Europe, the change in attitude of the people has taken place only five/six centuries ago. Since Renaissance Europe was intellectually stirred. Thomas More in his Utopia 1 and 2 exposed the shallowness and pomposity of the high society. A tradition of Rational Philosophy was ushered in by Spinoza, and Liberalism propagated by John Lock. Bruno, Francis Bacon, Rene de Carts and later Voltaire and David Hume gave impetus to both rational, secular and liberal traditions. On the other hand Guttenberg brought literacy to common man, Copernicus, Galileo, Harvey with their discoveries in astronomy and physiology shattered the very foundation of God and religion. With the steam engine invented by James Watts began the industrial revolution. Side by side the reformation movement started making politics secular which finally culminated into a movement for separation of the church and the state. Pursuit of knowledge, science and experimental method, dignity of crafts and mechanical arts began rolling in full speed. The French Revolution and the American Revolution brought in democracy i.e. rule of the people, for the people, by the people along with the principles of Equality, Fraternity and freedom. This kind of intellectual, political and societal churning did not take place in India. As a result the scientific temperament could not be engendered in the minds of common people. They remained ignorant and superstitious, gullible and helpless. This does not mean that there are no superstitious people in the West, but about it later.

The Scientific Temperament has moral and ethical content. It tries to tell us how a human being should look at his life. The first point is the need to look at any problem comprehensively. When in 1993 the monsoons failed in Maharashtra, the Governor of the state appealed to the people to pray to their respective gods to send rains. Here what is needed is not religious minds and their ardent prayers but a comprehensive study of why the monsoons fail, what could be done to ameliorate peoples hardships caused by it and strive to find a permanent solution to this recurring problem. It is known the world over that if the rain water is stopped from flowing and is allowed to be soaked up by the soil, about 500 mm of rain is enough to provide drinking water and other needs of the people and in addition enough water for one annual crop with appropriate water management. This has been successfully tried at places like Aadgaon and Ralegan Siddhi by Vijay Borade and Anna Hajare.

The second point is the principle is Autonomy. It means that this universe is self existing. It is bound by cause effect relationship and the cause-effect relation of every event can be traced. Although we are not yet able to establish such relationship for every event-e.g. the cause of cancer- but we know the method and would be able to do so sooner than later. That is why we can be sure that it is not controlled by any external agency, good or evil. It, therefore follows that we need not worship any agency that is capable of doing good by us nor do we need to appease any evil agency in order not to incur its wrath. Nothing that is not in consonance with the natural laws can happen in this universe. Denial of any outside controlling agency makes our life much less arduous.

Next is to cultivate our innate tendency to search for truth, trying to find out the root cause of every thing that happens around us. Our curiosity drives us to discover the secrets of nature that happen to be beyond our understanding. Some times these truths avail us nothing and religion tells us that we should not wish to learn them. Yet no advance in civilization would have been possible if human beings had not cultivated and used their curiosity.

Scientific temperament involves one more value, i.e. fearlessness. Any newly discovered scientific truth invariably invites bitter opposition by the established system-religion, state, tradition or whatever. Of course in the 20th and 21st centuries scientific research and findings and the scientists are respected. But had the scientists like Bruno, Galileo, Darwin succumbed to the pressure and threats of the church and the state, we still would believe that the earth is flat and still gloating over the assurance that God has made man in his own image. Nearly 70 years back Dr. D.D. Karve urged and entreated people to perceive the danger of population explosion and take steps to control it. He was ridiculed and practically ostracized by the society. He was even indicted in the court of law for using vulgar language. But he never relented and pursued his mission of making people aware of the menace and take precaution in time. Had his message been heeded to a number of todays problems would not have been there.

The last and the most important value of scientific temper is humility. It never takes the position that any truth discovered by this approach is the ultimate truth. Every one should accept it since there is nothing beyond that truth. Religions, on the other hand claim to know every thing including the ultimate truth and reality. They cannot tolerate any disbelief. Science, on the contrary maintains that whatever it knows is based on the presently available evidence and if any contradictory evidence comes to light, the present position will have to be changed. For religions the word of their prophets is final and should not be doubted.

Healthy, Critical Life Stance: Why did we fail to develop a critical, healthy stance towards life in our society, while it could take roots in the Western society to at least some extent? There are a number of reasons for this.

The first is the dictatorship of the head of the family. In Marathi it is aptly called Baba Wakyam Pramanam. It means the wish of the head of the family is every bodys command. We never consult our children for taking any decision. Nor is any problem discussed in the family with all members freely applying their minds and expressing their views. The head of the family necessarily is the father or a male member. Even the mother has no say in this matter. Surprisingly most women willingly let their husbands take decisions without their being consulted.

The second reason in my opinion is our tendency to idolize great men. Shivaji, Babasaheb Ambedkar and now many great political leaders are idolized by their followers. Any unflattering word uttered regarding them provokes their followers to teach you a fitting lesson. Once Kamal Padhye and her husband Prabhakar Padhye attended a private musical concert along with Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. In her Memoirs, Bandha-Anubandha, Kamal Padhye casually mentioned that Babasaheb did not really understand classical music. This innocuous statement provoked a Dalit friend, how dare this woman write such a thing about the great man that Babasaheb was! The fact is that not understanding classical music does not make Babasaheb less great. Yet one should abstain from pointing out any limitation in their great hero although he too is a mortal human being. This idolization hampers free thought and in turn development of Scientific Attitude.

Veracity of tradition is one more reason of this stagnating attitude. When criticism is not tolerated in the family and criticism of great men is a taboo, religion-customs-traditions are, as you might expect, sacrosanct. Many of our traditions and customs are harmful and economically wasteful. But we insist that they ought to be observed. Take the example of Akshata- the rice colored with vermilion is showered on the heads of the couple getting married. In one marriage 5 to 10 kg rice is used up. Every year three lacs marriages are performed in Maharashtra causing a colossal waste of thirty lacs kg of rice. But people hate being told that instead of wasting this rice literally throwing it to the wind it could be given to some charitable institution.

From child hood we are expected not to ask questions. This is one important reason why wee have failed to develop a healthy critical life stance. Our educational system engenders rote learning and not enquiry and asking questions. The child is full of curiosity and wants to know how and why of every thing. But the policy in the house is that a child is to be seen and not heard. In the school, the teacher has so many brats on her hands and has to finish the course in the syllabus. She cannot afford to waste time in answering worthless rubbish questions. The child is expected to sit like an idol of a deity-speechless, motionless, unconcerned and uninvolved-only listening and trying to grasp what the teacher says.

Scientific Outlook and Morality: People often ask me, Dr.Dabholkar, you talk so much about this blessed Scientific Outlook. Do you really think that developing this kind of outlook or life stance is all that one needs to do? Is it going to make the whole world happy? Why is America, despite being such an advanced state scientifically and technologically, beset with so many problems? Here we must keep in mind that Americans with all their advance in science have yet make this life stance their own. They have not yet fully imbibed the scientific outlook. Similarly in our country, too, no doubt science and education has spread. But the fact remains that todays educated scientists too are not as steeped in scientific attitude as were the workers of the Satyashodhak movement were 100 years back. Scientific outlook is the most appropriate way of acquiring right and precise knowledge. It does not promise answers to all questions But it does start the process of getting answers. Going beyond acquisition of knowledge, people behave morally or immorally according to their own outlook, scientific or religious. One with a Scientific Outlook can be a cruel man like Stalin or the most religious Harshad Mehta who abstained from even onions and garlic on religious grounds can cheat people of their hard earned money and the whole monetary system by thousands of crores of rupees. The behavior of a person depends on his discretion, his understanding of what is good and what is not, his moral values which is related to rationality. Morality is developed through a mans thinking and reasoning. It is rightly said that right thinking is the way to right conduct. The conduct of a religious person may be right but right thinking and reasoning cannot be devoid of scientific attitude. Rationality, that is better expressed in Marathi as Vivek is, therefore Scientific Outlook + moral values (or value system).

Utility of Scientific Outlook

The scientific outlook is necessary for solving individual problems as well as national problems. The problems of common peoples life are decided by the society and many times the decisions are taken at the level of high government officials. Sometimes the policy decisions that affect the common people most are taken without any consideration for the hardships that they are likely to suffer. But if all people approach their problems with a scientific outlook, all the parties will have better understanding of the problems and their response will be positive. But in India where ever we go-may be factory, a farm, an office or even a cabinet meeting- each individual is provided with minimum information. Criticizing or asking questions is not allowed. A person is expected to do the job allotted to him quietly. No wonder we have failed to develop a proper productive work culture. Now take a look at this contrast. Jawaharlal Nehru visited the Damodar Valley Project while it was under construction. He approached one of the labourer there, put his hand over his shoulder and asked him, Bhai, do you have any idea as to what you are going to raise here? The poor man had absolutely no idea about the dream project of Nehru and nodded his head in the negative. All that he knew was to fill the huge pit by bringing ballast from elsewhere. Nehru called a meeting of the managerial staff and explained to them about the necessity of enlightening the workers regarding the whole project, its need for the nation and how it will fulfill those needs and that he is a part of this process of nation building. How far Nehrus advice was heeded to, there is no way of knowing. But this is a scientific approach whereby every body knows what he is doing, why he is doing it, what will be the consequence of his action and what is his responsibility.

To day in almost all countries half the scientists and technologists are employed in projects on military matters. They get their salaries, perquisites and power and also public honor at the highest levels. But none of them is ever expected to accept responsibility for their action be it nuclear reactor for power generation or any weapon of mass destruction. Had they developed a real scientific Outlook they would think of the consequence of their output and in all probability would refuse to work there. Many scientists during the 2nd World War were apprehensive of participating in the development of atom bomb.

This maturity of understanding is required at all levels. It can be brought about only by engendering the scientific outlook from the very beginning. This alone can bring the broad and essential social change. A Brahmin or any other upper caste Hindu will better understand the difficulties of tribal or lower caste person and help him achieve equality with him whereas a staunch Hindu upper caste man will never accept that those lowly creatures are really his equals. The border issues national as well as provincial will be solved if all the parties think rationally keeping their wishes and desires out of the picture and not succumbing to them.

It is said that our Bharat going to be really Mahan in 2020. India will then be a superpower. What are our criteria for being called a great nation? Is it that we will have a hydrogen bomb instead of the atom bomb or we mat produce missiles of very large range and accuracy or we will have a Parama-Parama Computer? But what about those devious distinctions- 54% of the worlds illiterate, very high child mortality and mothers dying during labour, 300000 villages without drinking water, etc.- that too we will have achieved by then? There is no alternative to right thinking i.e. Scientific Outlook that will give us a broader perspective of social change if we want to bring about human happiness.

Scientific Outlook has two rules to be scrupulously observed.

  • There are no sacred truths. All assumptions must be critically examined. Arguments from authority have no place. And
  • Whatever is inconsistent with facts be discarded or revised. One must understand the cosmos as it is and not how it should be according to some prophet or philosopher or spiritualist. Obvious is sometimes false and unexpected is at times true. So everything ought to be verified.

Translated By Ms Suman Oak