Science

Statement: About Time Indian Science Woke up to Shifting Social Realities

"While there has been serious reflection with the gender question in the humanities and social sciences, the world of science has remained unwilling to question its ways of doing things."

The recent allegations of sexual harassment that have been brought up against a professor at the School of Life Sciences in the Jawaharlal Nehru University by not one but several women students have once again trained the spotlight on the issue of sexual harassment in science labs. That the alleged incidents span several years and multiple victims – all students and project employees – points to a pattern that appears to be specific to the nature of working conditions for women in scientific labs in India. While not every science lab in the country is an unsafe space for women, to think of this as an isolated case of an individual wrongdoing would be an oversimplification and an understatement of the problem.

By no imagination is sexual harassment at the workplace exclusive to the world of scientific research, yet some features of how science is organised makes its authority structure especially perilous for women. Scientific research in India, particularly in its higher echelons, remain predominantly the preserve of men. What adds to this power and authority is the need for mobilising large amounts of funding required for experimental research that the scientist or laboratory head provides. The absence of women in decision making bodies, their lack of adequate representation in committees and academies all come together to create an environment in which women and their concerns all appear marginal to the “serious business” of the scientific enterprise.

While the growing numbers of women in the university has encouraged serious reflections and engagements with the gender question in humanities and social sciences, the world of science has remained unaffected and unwilling to question its ways of doing things.

With the number of women enrolling for science degrees often exceeding that of men in recent years, many of whom aspire for careers in scientific research, there is an urgent need for Indian science to address issues of sexism, prejudice and harassment. It is time that Indian science woke up to its changing social reality and gives up its business-as-usual attitude. It is also time to hear from the Indian science academies and funding bodies clear policies of inclusion and representation. In addition, sexual misconduct should not only be condemned, it should also invite blacklisting from serving on scientific committees, receiving funding, awards and election to academies.

We call upon Indian scientists, and women scientists in particular, to support the young complainants’ quest for justice, and to further this effort to publicly acknowledge and spread awareness on this extremely serious issue.

1. Riddhi Shah, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
2. Gaiti Hasan, National Centre for Biological Sciences.
3. Shobhana Narasimhan, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research.
4. Shobhona Sharma, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
5. Anna George, National Institute of Immunology.
6. Sandhya S. Visweswariah, Indian Institute of Science
7. B. K. Thelma, University of Delhi, South Campus.
8. Ranjini Bandyopadhyay, Raman Research Institute.
9. Sudha Bhattacharya, Jawaharlal Nehru University (retired)
10. Vineeta Bal, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.
11. Chetana Sachidanandan, CSIR-Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology.
12. Jayashree Sengupta, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (retired).
13. Prajval Shastri, Astrophysicist, Bengaluru.
14. Satyajit Mayor, National Centre for Biological Science
15. Spenta R. Wadia, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru.
16. Satyajit Rath, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.o
17. P. Rajamanickam, General Secretary, All India Peoples Science Network.
18. M. S. Raghunathan, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
19. S.G. Dani, UM-DAE Centre for Excellence Basic Sciences, Mumbai.
20. Sumathi Rao, Harish-Chandra Research Institute.
21. Enakshi Bhattacharya, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
22. Jaishree Paul, Jawaharlal Nehru University (retired).
23. Abha Dev Habib, University of Delhi.
24. R.Geeta, University of Delhi
25. Namita Surolia, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research
26. A. Mani, University of Calcutta.
27. Alok Bhattacharya, Jawaharlal Nehru University (retired).
28. Amala Bhave, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
29. Amit Kumar Yadav, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute.
30. Amitabh Virmani, Chennai Mathematical Institute.
31. Amitabha Bhattacharya, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
32. Anindya Dutt, University of Calcutta.
33. Anirban Kundu, University of Calcutta.
34. Antar Bandyopadhyay, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
35. Anu Venugopalan, Guru Gobind Singh, IP University.
36. Arjun Bagchi, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
37. Arockiasamy Arulandu, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
38. Arunava Chakrabarti, Kalyani University.
39. Arunava Mandal, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
40. Ashok Kapoor, Chennai Mathematical Institute.
41. Ashoke Sen, Harish-Chandra Research Institute.
42. Asmita Patil, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
43. Atreyi Dasgupta, Baylor College of Medicine
44. Aurnab Ghose, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.
45. B. Sury, Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru.
46. Bhavtosh Bansal, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata.
47. Bindusar Sahoo, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram
48. C.S. Lalitha, University of Delhi, South Campus.
49. Chandan Singh Dalawat, Harish-Chandra Research Institute.
50. Chayanika Shah, Independent scholar and queer activist.
51. D. P. Sen Gupta, Indian Institute of Science (retired).
52. Debarshi Das, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
53. Debashis Ghoshal, Jawaharlal Nehru University .
54. Deepali S Ghelani, Sahiyar.
55. Dibyendu Sarkar, CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology.
56. Dileep Jatkar, Harish-Chandra Research Institute.
57. Dinesh Abrol, “National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (retired).
58. Dinesh Mohanta, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
59. Dipshikha Chakravortty, Indian Institute of Science.
60. Durgadas P. Kasbekar, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics.
61. Elangbam Geetanjali, University of Delhi.
62. G. Krishnmoorthy, Anna University.
63. Gauhar Raza, “National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (retired).
64. Gautam I Menon, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.
65. Geeta Venkataraman, Ambedkar University.
66. Girish Kulkarni, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
67. Gurcharan Kaur, Guru Nanak Dev University.
68. H. Shakila, Madurai Kamaraj University.
69. Jagmohan Singh, CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh.
70. Jasjeet Singh Bagla, “Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali.
71. Jayanta Kumar Sarma, Tezpur University.
72. Joyee Ghosh, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
73. Joyoti Basu, Bose Institute.
74. Jyotsna Dani, University of Mumbai (retired).
75. Kalyani Menon Sen, CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology.
76. Karthick Bittu Kondiah, Ashoka University.
77. Karthikeyan Vasudevan, CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
78. Kasturi Mukhopadhyay, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
79. Kaushal Verma, Indian Institute of Science.
80. Kaushar Vaidya, Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani.
81. Krishna B Garg, University of Rajasthan (retired).
82. Krishna Maddaly, Ashoka University.
83. Krishnendu Sengupta, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science.
84. L.S. Shashidhara, “Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.
85. Lekha Nair, Jamia Millia Islamia.
86. M. A. Sofi, Kashmir University (Emeritus).
87. M. Sundari, Chennai Mathematical Institute.
88. Mahajan M. J., Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
89. Mamta, S.G.T.B. Khalsa College, University of Delhi.
90. Manavendra N. Mahato, Indian Institute of Technology, Indore.
91. Maneesh Thakur, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
92. Manoj Verma, Jawaharlal Nehru University
93. Manu Aggarwal, University of Delhi
94. Mayurika Lahiri, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune
95. Mitaxi Mehta, Ahmedabad University
96. Mubeena T, Govt. College, Kasaragod.
97. Mugdha Kulashreshtha, Science reviewer, Cactus Communications.
98. N. Raghavendra, Harish-Chandra Research Institute.
99. Nalin Mehta, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
100. Nandita DasGupta, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
101. Naveen Gaur, University of Delhi.
102. Neelkamal Rastogi, Banaras Hindu University.
103. Nisha Biswas, Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute.
104. Nisha Tapryal, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
105. Patrick Das Gupta, University of Delhi
106. Pradeep Parrack, Bose Institute
107. Pradipta Bandyopadhyay, Jawaharlal Nehru University
108. Pratibha Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru University
109. Preeti Kharb, National Centre for Radio Astrophysics
110. Rabeya Basu, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.
111. Raghunand R. Tirumalai, CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
112. Rahul Roy, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
113. Rajeswari Sarala Raina, Shiv Nadar University
114. Ram Shilpa, Forbesganj College, Bihar.
115. Rashna Bhandari, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics.
116. Ravi Mazumdar, University of Waterloo.
117. Remya Nair, Kyoto University.
118. Rickmoy Samanta, .Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
119. Rina Shah, M.G. Science Institute
120. Rishikesh Vaidya, Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani.
121. S. Ilangovan, University of Hyderabad.
122. Sagari R Ramdas, Veterinary Scientist, Food Sovereignty Alliance ”
123. Sameena Khan, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute.
124. Sandhya Choubey, Harish-Chandra Research Institute
125. Sanjay K Banerjee, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute.
126. Sanjay Kapoor,  University of Delhi, South Campus.
127. Saradindu Bhaduri, Jawaharlal Nehru University
128. Saurabh Basu, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.
129. Sejal Shah, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
130. Shahid Jameel, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (retired)
131. Shilpa Jamwal, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute.
132. Shiraz Minwalla, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
133. Shiva Shankar, Chennai Mathematical Institute.
134. Shrihari Sridharan, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram.
135. Soma Marla, ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources.
136. Soumitro Bannerjee, Indian Institute of Science Education’s and Research, Kolkata
137. Sreelaja Nair, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
138. Sriparna Bandopadhyay, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.
139. Srubabati Goswami, Physicist, Gujarat.
140. Subiman Kundu, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
141. Sudhir Raniwala, University of Rajasthan.
142. Sudipta Maiti, “Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
143. Suhita Nadkarni, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.
144. Sunil Kumar Mukherjee, Indian Agricultural Research Institute.
145. Supratim Sengupta, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata.
146. Surekha Bhanot, Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani.
147. Surjeet Kour, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.
148. Suvankar Dutta, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal.
149. Swapan Chakrabarti, University of Calcutta.
150. Swati Saha, University of Delhi South Campus.
151. T. Govindrajan, Chennai Mathematical Institute.
152. T. Pareek, Harish-Chandra Research Institute.
153. Tabish Qureshi, Jamia Millia Islamia.
154. Teena Gill, Filmmaker.
155. Tejinder Singh, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
156. Ujjwal Sen, Harish-Chandra Research Institute.
157. Umesh Dubey, Harish-Chandra Research Institute.
158. Utpal Chattopadhyay, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science.
159. V. S. Sunder, Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.
160. Vijaya Satchidanandam, Indian Institute of Science.
161. Vikram Vyas, Ajit Foundation.
162. Vinay Nandicoori, National Institute of Immunology.
163. Vineeta Bal, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune.
164. Yashwanti Mudgil, University of Delhi.
165. Yogesh Kumar Srivastava, National Institute for Science Education and Research Bhubaneswar.