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GM mustard: 60 scientists ask Govt of India to withdraw 'gag order' denying right to speak

Himanshu Pathak
By Our Representative 
In an open statement, more than 60 Indian scientists have protested against what they call the “gag order issued on public sector scientists”. Urging the the Department of Agriculture Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare, Government of India, to “immediately withdraw an instruction put out on December 23, 2022”, the statement says, the order is “tantamount to a gag order”, as it seeks to “denying scientists the right to practice science in its true spirit and present evidence-based analysis.”
Referring to the press release, which has been issued by Dr Himanshu Pathak, Director-General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (DG-ICAR), on December 23, 2022, in the context of GM mustard approval public debate, the statement says, “DARE/ICAR is appearing to silence the voices of public sector scientists by invoking ‘administrative procedures’, that too in the name of 'public interest', and this is also being extended to retired scientists not in the service of the government at present.”
Stating that “Article 51(A) of Constitution of India lists down Fundamental Duties of all Citizens of India”, the statement quotes 51(A)(h), which says, "It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism, the spirit of inquiry and reform."
It underlines, “Citizens trained as scientists understand the core spirit of science. Science is about asking questions and seeking answers. Science progresses on being critical of conclusions already made, and questioning certainties, clarifying niggling doubts and double-checking results.”
“In fact”, it notes, “It is the duty of a confident and progressive government to invite open and transparent public debate based on scientific facts and set a precedent of public participation in issues related to policy choices of technology. This is about democratisation of science and technology, without compromising on the scientific rigour.”
Pointing out the press release issued by DARE/ICAR is in “direct contravention to our constitutional rights and fundamental duty as scientists to work with freedom”, the statement says, the DARE/ICAR view “is in effect a gag order by which scientific temper and independent inquiry is being discouraged among current serving scientists and even retired scientists.”
“This is not expected, and certainly not from an elected democratic government in 21st century India. We therefore urge DARE/ICAR of Government of India to immediately publish a corrigendum and take back this directive”, it underscores.
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Comments

Anonymous said…
Please correct Dr Himanshu Pathak is now DG ICAR, not Dr Trilochan Mohapatra?

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