Reflections on Social Movements of Science in Contemporary India
Dhruv Raina and Omprasad
Pages 29-42| Published online: 05 Nov 2023
Raina, Dhruv and Omprasad. 2023. “Reflections on Social Movements of Science in Contemporary India.” Marxism & Sciences 2(2): 29–42. https://doi.org/10.56063/MS.2310.02203.
Social movements of science in India have had an important role to play in the democratisation of science for more than half a century. The participants in these movements have different understandings of the social relations of science, ideological agendas, and the social origins of the participants in these movements are quite diverse as are their educational backgrounds. The relationship of these movements with the state funded science and technology research system has been marked by ambivalence, now by antagonism and at other times as a resource to be cherished and defended. But the challenges facing them today are of a different order. The ascent of authoritarian regimes globally, as well as in the Indian political sphere pose a threat to the institutions of learning and knowledge production and dissemination. Beyond research institutes and universities facing up to the threat of political intervention and budgetary cuts, the academy that ensconces the three cultures of the sciences, social sciences and the humanities, is a divided house today. While there have been popular movements and democratic struggles led by students and farmers, in a post-truth world defence of the values and ethos of science and the world of knowledge as an open community of scholars oriented towards the production of robust knowledge needs to be defended again. This paper will address some issues presently faced by social movements of science encountering a populist and authoritarian regime. The paper argues why it is important to defend a socially robust theory of knowledge making and one of the arenas for disseminating this conception of knowledge relate to the specific struggles of the social movement of science today.
KEYWORDS: Social Movements, India, March for Science, post-truth, credibility of scientific knowledge, authoritarian governments, populism.
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