Science flourishes when there is freedom of thought, says Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

The nobel laureate rued the fact that India has failed to do enough in field of scientific research despite the fact that the country’s Constitution stresses on the need of scientific temperament

Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (File photo- courtesy: Twitter)
Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (File photo- courtesy: Twitter)

NH Web Desk

“Science flourishes when there is freedom of speech of thought,” said Nobel prize winner Venkataraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan, adding that “It will prosper when there is minimal interference by the government.”

In “Science and Society” event at Bangalore International Centre on Wednesday, he said, “I personally believe that science flourishes where there is a real freedom of thought, opinion and minimal ideological interference. Although the autonomy of science remains an open question.”

On the question of the sanctity of science in times of volatility in the world, in context of Hitler’s Germany and Soviet Union regime, he said, “Nazis practically destroyed German science and it took 50 years for the country to recover. As a result of the Soviet Union government’s opposition to genetics, Soviet biology lagged behind by several decades.”

But by citing the example of China, Ramakrishnan said “It was an exception as the country is making great advances in science despite curbs on freedom of speech and opinion.”

Rueing the fact that India has failed to develop sufficient scientific temperament and has not done enough in the research field despite perhaps being the only country with a Constitution that stresses on the need to, he said, “Oddly, India’s spending in terms of GDP on science and technology is quite less. The country’s goals and actions are not clearly aligned. The GDP is growing, but not as fast,” he said.

“A combination of factors have led to inadequate funding in science in India. Private-sector funding is extremely low. If the private sector can match the typical 2:1 or 2:2 ratio, it will help,” the professor said.

The Government doesn't know how to go forward with this, “No one has the knowledge about working on the priorities except for scientists in the field. Separation between the government, and the actual science, science infrastructure and establishment is quite important... to remove politics from science funding,” the scientist said.

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