The cold-blooded murder of Prof M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and other anti-superstition activists raises the issue of the importance of the voice of rational dissent for our country’s progress. What is our national aim? To my mind, our national aim must be to make India a highly prosperous country for its citizens, and for that it is necessary to have a high degree of industrialisation, and for this it is of the utmost importance to spread scientific thinking to every nook and corner of our country, and combat superstitions.
For industrialisation, development of science is absolutely necessary, and for that freedom is also absolutely necessary—the freedom to think, freedom to write, freedom to discuss with others, freedom to explain, freedom to criticise and freedom to dissent. The growth of science requires certain supportive values, particularly liberty. This is because the thought process cannot develop without freedom. The values of a scientific community viz pluralism, tolerance, individual freedom and free flow of information are very similar to the values of democratic society.