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`Where are political leaders to confront obscurantism today?`

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday questioned as to where political leaders and parties were when it came to confronting obscurantism.



Guwahati: Union Environment Minister
Jairam Ramesh on Friday questioned as to where political leaders
and parties were when it came to confronting obscurantism and
asked students to imbibe the "scientific temper" advocated by
the country`s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
"Where are the political leaders and parties today who
will confront obscurantism? Who protested when a young woman
committed `sati` in Rajasthan in 1986? How is it that leaders
across the political divide continue to tacitly support
institutions like `khap panchayats`?" Ramesh said in his
convocation address at IIT-Guwahati.

"...Surely, scientists should not be seen as
accomplices in nourishing an irrational anti-modernist
culture!" he said.

Stating that the day was the 47th death anniversary of
Nehru whose vision and leadership was responsible for India`s
"extensive of science and technology", the minister said, "It
is, therefore, only appropriate that I use this convocation
address as an opportunity of revisiting a key Nehruvian
concern - that of `scientific temper`."

"Try and imbibe the spirit of what Nehru`s scientific
temper in whatever you do. You don`t have to be a follower of
his political party to acknowledge and appreciate the true
value of Nehru`s obsession with the idea of a scientific
temper," Ramesh said.
To Nehru, he said, scientific temper was a combination
of a questioning mind, pushing limits, not getting structured
by narrow limited concerns and to be consistent with changing
time.

With the spread of education and economic development
Nehru believed that the values that animated the scientific
temper would get embedded in everybody`s life, the minister
said.

"Where are we placed in regard to the development of
the scientific temper? Have we individually become more
tolerant and accommodating of diversity, shed ourselves of
dogma and superstition, given up outmoded ways of thinking
subjecting phenomena to critical enquiry, opened our minds and
broken the chain of obscurantism and bigotry of whatever
kind?" he questioned.

PTI

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