Nehru’s Vision of Scientific Temper

Mahanti, Subodh

Abstract

Nehru articulated the concept of scientific temper in 1946. The term “scientific temper” is contemporary but appeals to rational enquiry are not new to Indian ethos. Nehru’s vision of scientific temper should be seen in the context of his understanding of science and religion for a better appreciation. For Nehru science was not merely an individual’s search for truth but it should be an integral part of one’s thinking and action. He was more interested in social consequences of science than science itself. Science has made it possible to view traditional beliefs in a new light based on facts. Religion in its narrow sense discourage people in understanding natural processes rationally because it encourage ‘an uncritical credulousness, a reliance on the supernatural.’ He viewed religion’s approach as totally different from scientific method. One should not accept tradition simply because it is tradition. Nehru insisted on giving up much of traditional ways of beliefs and living. Nehru wanted scientists should play more active role in spreading scientific temper in the country. Nehru’s legacy of scientific temper got reflected in its incorporation as a fundamental duty of every citizen in Indian constitution. The importance of spreading scientific temper in the country was highlighted in various science and technology policy statements adopted by the government. There were other attempts in visualizing the concept of scientific temper in the present context and working out action plans. However, India is yet to achieve scientific temper that Nehru wanted. Serious attempts should be made to remove the obstacles that undermine scientific temper for inclusive and peaceful development of Indian society.

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