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'Should Scientists be Activists?' Second PM Bhargava Memorial Lecture in Bangalore

The Second P M Bhargava Memorial Lecture, instituted by Sambhavana Trust, was delivered by Subir Sarkar, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Oxford University in Bengaluru on Wednesday August 14. The talk was co-sponsored by the Environment 
The talk was preceded by an introduction to the work and life of Bhargava, eminent scientist/activist who has himself been a critic of science. Indeed the subject of the evening's talk, 'Should Scientists be Activists?' was a most appropriate topic for this day and age when scientists everywhere are struggling to confront the reality of everyday issues even as they engage with objective science. 
Sarkar's lecture ranged across nations and times.  He drew attention to the many issues of a political and social nature that scientists have engaged with over the years, whether on the atom bomb or other issues. Scientists, he said were in a constant dilemma caught between remaining objective scientists and succumbing to the urge to engage with the issues of the day. How do scientists negotiate the contentious space where science is not only challenged but is distorted? What role may they play in this re-imagining of science? Sarkar pointed out that India was in a unique global historical space managing as it is a multifaceted dynamic culture and social diversity.  Its successes are bound to impact on the world:' The world is looking at India'. Scientific temper is for India an old concept and is enshrined in the Constitution. How we interpret it is the challenge.
Sarkar's talk resonated well with the very engaged audience and the discussion sessions went on for almost as long as the talk itself.  The dilemmas of scientists who  are asked to work in areas that have potential for misuse attracted some attention. And Sarkar pointed out that in today's world scientists can legitimately refuse to work on some projects that they deem harmful to humankind. 
Chandana Chakravarty introduced the lecture series and the work of P M Bhargava  and Sathyu Sarangi, managing trustee of Sambhavana Trust introduced the speaker and his work.

Source: Iris Knowledge Foundation

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Posted on : Aug 17, 2019