A deeply conservative lot, India’s public-sector scientists chose to sit out the global ‘March for Science’ on Earth Day, 22 April. But, four months later, many of them left their labs and took to the streets to join a nationwide march to demand a better deal for science, scientists and scientific institutions.
“India’s scientists, particularly those attached to government departments or laboratories, have traditionally been happy to leave science policy decisions to the bureaucracy or the politicians,” explains D. Raghunandan, president of the All-India People’s Science Network and member of the Delhi Science Forum, which helped organise India’s own ‘March for Science’ on 9 August.
The event saw thousands of placard-carrying researchers, teachers, students and scientists marching through the streets of the major science hubs of Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune and about 25 of the smaller urban centres.
So, what changed? While India’s public-funded scientific establishments were served notice two years ago to raise money to support their research projects, it took until May 2017 before the government began cracking the whip.