Communalism

Scientists Speak Up Against Spread of Communal Hatred in the Country

"A highly polarised community is like a nuclear bomb close to criticality. It can explode any time and drive the nation to utter chaos."

Following in the footsteps of writers, artists and sociologists – all of whom have voiced their concern in recent weeks over incidents of violence across India – a group of scientists has urged President Pranab Mukherjee to take “suitable action” to stop incidents of “intolerance, polarisation and [the spreading] of communal hatred”  from “taking our country, which has a rich heritage and cultural diversity, backwards.”

Holding that a highly polarised community is like a nuclear bomb close to criticality, they also demanded that “the strictest action … be taken against any such anti-human, anti-civilisational acts and anyone even suggesting such actions must be severely dealt with punishment beyond that reserved for anti- national activity as this is truly worse than that.”

Simultaneously, the Inter-Academy Panel on Ethics in Science (IAPES) also issued a statement on Tuesday voicing concerns over how the country’s scientific temper has been eroded by “several … statements and actions which run counter to this constitutional requirement”. The statement also asked for such “trespassers of reason” to be exemplarily punished.

The petition submitted to the president says: “We, the scientists, are concerned about the recent developments with reference to intolerance, polarisation and spread of communal hatred resulting in the death of innocent people, rationalists”. The petition was signed by the following scientists and academicians:

  1. Naresh Dadhich, Former Director, IUCAA
  2. Prof. G Rajasekaran, Professor emeritus, IMSc, CMI
  3. Prof. A P Balchandran, Emeritus Professor, Syracuse University
  4. Prof. G Baskaran, Emeritus Professor, IMSc
  5. Prof. Varun Sahni, IUCAA, Pune
  6. Prof. Vikram Soni, Emeritus Fellow, JNU
  7. Prof. T R Govindarajan Emeritus Professor, IMSc, CMI
  8. Prof. Partha Majumdar, SINP and Vivekananda University
  9. Prof. Tabish Qureshi, Jamia
  10. Prof. Anjan Ananda Sen, Jamia
  11. Prof. Suresh Govindarajan, IIT Madras
  12. Prof. Dawood Kothwala, IIT Madras
  13. Prof. Sudipta Sarakar, IIT Gandhinagar

“We urge you to take serious note of these developments and initiate suitable actions,” they said, addressing the president. In a separate petition to the Centre, state governments and people at large, they appealed for an end to “the spread of communal hatred and polarisation in society,” pointing out that India had been a plural country where communities allowed space for each other.

“A highly polarised community is like a nuclear bomb close to criticality. It can explode any time and drive the nation to utter chaos. This is a highly unstable atmosphere and we should do everything in our hands to defuse the disparity, and enlighten society in scientific spirit,” it said.

“This is an appeal to the government to act swiftly to stop this mayhem which is victimising innocent people for eating beef, sensible people for being against superstition, RTI activists or whistle blowers and many more innocent people with human values.” It added:

“The literature fraternity is the first to act and return their awards in protest against the current events. The scientific community however seems to remain passive. But scientists are also part of society and it is times like this that call upon them to be conscientious citizens and voice their concern. This is to start a campaign for scientists in India to wake up .. This may be followed by stronger actions akin to the award winners of Sahitya Akademi.”

The IAPES statement was much less explicit in its demands, and simply called for the country’s leadership as well as the people to exercise “rationality, rights and responsibility” in equal measure while referring to the aspirations described in Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘Where the mind is without fear’. The IAPES panel is constituted by India’s three science academies: the Indian National Science Academy, the Indian Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. The full text of the IAPES statement reads:

When we became an independent republic, our founding fathers adopted the Constitution of India which demands that its citizens abide by and uphold reason and scientific temper. Scientific temper encompasses rationality, rights and responsibility in equal measure.

It crystallises what Tagore wanted India to be, namely, a nation

Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of freedom;
let my country awake.

Yet, we note with sadness and growing anxiety several of statements and actions which run counter to this constitutional requirement of every citizen of India. It is important that exemplary punishment be given to such trespassers of reason and rights. We also appeal to all sections of Indian society to raise their voices against such violated acts, so that they are nipped in the bud.


This is the full text of the petition submitted by scientists to the central and state governments, followed by the complete list of signatories, numbering 130 as of October 26, 2015:

Indian civilisation is a truly plural one which unifies faiths and distils the wisdom of many streams of thought. There have been many practices and communities that have allowed space for each other and have lived together in peace and harmony for centuries. We celebrate the festivals and anniversaries of all faiths. This unifying threading of social and cultural fibre brings to bear the greatest civilisation strength and stability. It is this which is being threatened by a rash of sectarian and bigoted acts that have recently escalated.

A highly polarised community is like a nuclear bomb close to criticality. It can explode any time and drive the nation to utter chaos. This is a highly unstable atmosphere and we should do everything in our hands to defuse the disparity, and enlighten society in scientific spirit.

The literature fraternity is the first to act and return their awards in protest against the current events. The scientific community however seems to remain passive. But scientists are also part of society and it is times like this that call upon them to be conscientious citizens and voice their concern. This is to start a campaign for Scientists in India to wake up and and make a statement. This may be followed by stronger actions akin to the award winners of Sahitya Akademi.

In a fractured world, we have to keep the plural faith that defines our civilisation. As true adherents of science and its method, it is also our duty to help people at large to take informed and rational decisions, and particularly so in these volatile times. This is an ethical issue of great concern and import – a dharma – as enunciated by Buddha and Gandhi, and the question is how well we measure up to it. On the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s General Relativity – one of the greatest feats of human thought, let’s also pay fitting tribute to the exceptional man who stood for ethical and societal values and peace by speaking out for peace and harmony.

This is an appeal to the government to act swiftly to stop this mayhem which is victimising innocent people for eating beef, sensible people for being against superstition, RTI activists or whistle blowers and many more innocent people with human values. It is not just victimising innocent and enlightened people but killing them.

This is totally unacceptable. The strictest action must be taken against any such anti-human, anti-civilisational acts and anyone even suggesting such actions must be severely dealt with punishment beyond that reserved for anti- national activity as this is truly worse than that.

We strongly condemn the atrocities and join the protest of litterateurs in awakening people and the central and state governments to the dangers of not acting.

  1. Naresh Dadhich, IUCAA, Pune
  2. G Rajasekaran, IMSc, Chennai
  3. Aiyalam Balachandran, India
  4. Vikram Soni, JNU, Delhi
  5. Tabish Qureshi, Jamia Millia
  6. Govindarajan Thupil, IMSc, Chennai
  7. Parthasarathi Majumdar, SINP, Kolkata
  8. Suresh Govindarajan, India
  9. Ganapathy Baskaran , India
  10. Varun Sahni, IUCAA, Pune
  11. Vasantha Mani
  12. Ram Ramaswamy, JNU, Delhi
  13. Sumathi Rao, HRI, Allahabad
  14. Ashoke Sen,  HRI, Allahabad
  15. Ajit Srivastava, IOP, Bhubaneswar
  16. Pravabati Chingangbam, IIAP, Bangalore
  17. Debashis Ghoshal, JNU, Delhi
  18. Amber Habib, Shiv Nadar University
  19. Suman Bala, Pune, India
  20. Kakoli Bagchi, Pune, India
  21. Mehedi Kalam, India
  22. Qamar Usmani, Jamia Millia, Delhi
  23. Machchhindra Gophane, India
  24. Laxman Katkar, India
  25. Sucheta Koshti, India
  26. Prasad Basu, India
  27. Ninan Sajeeth Philip, India
  28. Manzoor Malik, India
  29. Main Pal, India
  30. Shantanu Rastogi, India
  31. Priya Hasan Hyderabad, India
  32. Prasad Subramanian, India
  33. Shabbir Shaikh, Pune, India
  34. Sheelu Abraham, India
  35. Pradip Mukherjee, India
  36. Mohammad Shoeb, Aligarh, India
  37. Rajeshwari Dutta, India
  38. Aparna V, Grand Forks, ND, United States
  39. Narayan Banerjee, India
  40. Tejinder Singh, India
  41. Nimisha Kantharia Pune, India
  42. SK Hossein, India
  43. Anirban Saha, India
  44. Remya Nair, India
  45. Pankaj Singh Rana , India
  46. Debasish Borah, India
  47. Prof. Farook Rahaman, India
  48. Surajit Chattopadhyay, India
  49. Koushik Chakraborty, India
  50. Ramesh Nambiar, India
  51. Tahseen Hassan, India
  52. Susmita Chakravorty Cambridge, MA, United States
  53. Charles Jose, Pune, PR, United States
  54. Fazlay Ahmed New Delhi, India
  55. Dr. Safiqul Islam, India
  56. Shaista Ahmad, Delhi, India
  57. Mira Dey, India
  58. Dilip Kanhere, India
  59. Sudipta Sarkar, India
  60. Nipanjana Patra , India
  61. Shashikiran Ganesh, India
  62. Atanu Nath Kolkata, India
  63. Anver Aziz, India
  64. Satish Abbi, India
  65. Iftikar Hossain Sardar, India
  66. Nita Dilawar, India
  67. Niladri Paul, India
  68. Verita Fernandes, India
  69. Krishnamohan Parattu, India
  70. Khabbab Zakaria, India
  71. Vasudha Bhatnagar, India
  72. Sharanjit Kaur, India
  73. Swagata Duari, India
  74. SK Islam, India
  75. Manju Bhardwaj, India
  76. Abdul Aziz, India
  77. Christy Mathew John, India
  78. Tanwi Bandyopadhyay, India
  79. Wali Hossain, India
  80. Najam Hasan Hyderabad, India
  81. Amit Das, India
  82. Naveen Gaur Delhi, India
  83. Sharad Lele Bangalore, India
  84. Pahai Kuo Toronto, Canada
  85. Subhankar Chakraborty, India
  86. Gopalakrishna Panicker Changanacherry, India
  87. Amim Ansar London, India
  88. Annie Hasan, India
  89. Prantik Saha, India
  90. Vijayalakshmi Kodati, India
  91. Mohammad Zahid, India
  92. Khaliq Mohiuddin, India
  93. Parthiv Mehta Mumbai, India
  94. Shouvik Datta, India
  95. Archana Pai, India
  96. Mousumi Das, India
  97. Sudipta Das, India
  98. Dawood Kothawala, India
  99. Syeda Zubeda , India
  100. Sowgat Muzahid State College, PA, United States
  101. Anjan Ananda Sen, India
  102. Premanand Mishra, India
  103. Akshay Kulkarni Redmond, WA, United States
  104. Naveen Kumar , India
  105. Ramki Ramakrishnan Tiruvananthapuram, TN, India
  106. Venkatesh Athreya Chennai, India
  107. Sahasranamam Padmanabhan, salem, India
  108. T.R. Udaya Kumar, India
  109. Ansntha Sayanam, India
  110. Srinivasan Nandagopal, India
  111. Venkat Loganathan, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  112. Zahoor Ahmed
  113. Ahmed Ali
  114. Kadirvelan Suryanarayan
  115. Donepudi RaviTeja
  116. Anil Kumar Avulappa
  117. SA Rajendran
  118. Devinder Kaur
  119. Ranjit Balakrishnan
  120. Md. Sabir Ali
  121. Karthikeyan Vivekanandhan
  122. Praveen Kumar,  Chennai    Tennessee
  123. Tina Matthews ,  Portland   Oregon
  124. Vijay Kumar, Mysore
  125. Rama Krishnan
  126. Alok Bhattacharya,  Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
  127. Madhan Mohan
  128. Anirban Kundu
  129. Sourav Bhattacharya
  130. Salmi Imran, Ringwood, New Jersey

With inputs from PTI.