Thiruvananthapuram: Rationalists, including persons of science, are worried about the country’s eroding scientific temper. Former IISc faculty member Vidyanand Nanjundiah, after delivering a talk ‘From One to Many: The Evolution of Multicellular Organisms’ in Thiruvananthapuram, said, “Mindsets are not what they used to be 10 years ago.”
The talk was held at Kerala State Science and Technology Museum (KSSTM) as part of the Breakthrough Science Society observing Darwin Week, following HRD Minister of State Satyapal Singh rubbishing Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
Noting how he used to be boastful about India’s once-rational outlook, he said that the tendency of supporting an irrational and unhistorical mindset was dangerous. He said that on one occasion, Syrian catholic priests had invited him to Thiruvalla. Despite believing in creationism, they were open to listening to a different point of view. That was a great attitude, says Nanjundiah.
While rationality might be a subject of interest to sociologists and anthropologists, he and the team at Centre for Human Genetics have been studying the ‘sociology’ of multicellular structures; group behaviour and interaction between cells. An interesting discovery they made was how single cell organisms preferred to form multicellular structures composed of different genotypes, than a uniform genetic makeup. They chose diversity of traits which complemented each other.
The session ended with an ode, by Breakthrough state president G. S. Padmakumar, to Darwin, the devout Catholic who converted from creationism to evolutionism. “I hope things won’t be as bleak as they are,” said Nanjundiah towards the end.