The Society

Formation of The Society For Scientific Values

A large number of scientists in the country have been feeling for long the necessity for improving the climate of scientific research by emphasizing the need to promote integrity, objectivity and ethical values in the pursuit of science. Some scientists working in Delhi met in 1981 and formed a group to work collectively for this purpose. The group met informally and discussed ways and means of achieving these objectives. In 1984, it was decided that a society named "Society for Scientific Values" be formed. A circular was sent to a number of scientists in the country explaining the need for such a society. A excerpt of the circular is given below.

"After independence, India has made considerable investment for the development of science and technology. It has a large scientific and technical manpower. There are many scientific and technical institutions, some of which have been very well equipped. However, the scientific contributions have not been commensurate with the investment. In fact, hardly any discoveries, innovations and technologies have originated in the country in recent decades. There are several reasons for this e.g. inadequate salaries and other needs such as housing, transport, schooling, medical facilities, and so on. But these are not the main reasons, as these facilities were not better before independence when some outstanding contributions of great importance were made in science in India. It is the lack of healthy scientific environment which has been throttling the creative potential of Indian scientists and technologists.

Analysing the characteristics of a healthy scientific community, Jacob Bronowski has stated that by the worldly standards of public life, members of such a community are oddly virtuous in their work. They do not make wild claims, they do not cheat, they do not try to persuade at any cost, they appeal neither to prejudice nor to authority, they are often frank about their ignorance, their disputes are fairly decorous, they do not confuse what is being argued with race, politics, sex or age, they listen patiently to the young and to the old. Individually some scientists, no doubt, have human weaknesses. But the body of scientists is trained to avoid and organised to resist every form of persuasion by the fact. Independence and originality, dissent and freedom, and tolerance, are the first needs of science. Truth is the drive at the centre of science. It confronts the work of one man with that of another and grafts each on each, and it can not survive without justice and honour and respect between man and man. Only by these means can science pursue its steadfast object to explore truth. If these values did not exist, then the society of scientists would have to invent them to make the practice of science possible.

While there are exceptions, the Indian scientific community has yet to evolve a tradition in the above lines. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a healthy scientific environment free from prejudices, bureaucratic formalisms, dishonesty, propoganda of unsubstantiated research claims, suppression of dissent, showmanship, sycophancy, political manipulation and manoeuvring, etc. For this, it is of the utmost importance to promote, by personal and collective efforts, the ethics and norms of science not only for the progress of science and technology in the country but also for national character."

Scientists were invited to give their opinions regarding the formation of the Society and suggest names of persons who could become Founder Members of the Society. There was an enthusiastic response from the scientists. An interim Executive Council was then constituted. Thus council laid down the following guidelines for membership of the Society:

  1. He (or she wherever applicable) should have allowed his name to appear as an author in only those publications in which he was actively involved, e.g. in data collection, theoretical formulations, design and construction of apparatus, field trips, statistical analysis, and interpretation of the results, as distinct from administrative support and providing funds or facilities.

  2. He should never have plagiarised, or made false claims or indulged in or encouraged any kind of unethical or dishonest activity in science.

  3. He should whole-heartedly support the decisions and actions to be taken collectively by the Society after such decisions and actions had been approved by him.

  4. He should agree to withdraw from the Society if he ceases to adhere to guidelines 1, 2 and 3 above.

Keeping the above guidelines in mind, 107 Founder Members, were enrolled, and the Society was registered under the Societies Registration Act (1860) on 18th August, 1986.


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