“The government and the RSS are trying to tell us what to eat, what to say, what to dress, what to think about and I don’t like this kind of a constraint on my freedom”, he alleged.
Mr Bhargava, who founded the prestigious Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, said he will return the award conferred on him in 1986 as he felt the climate in the country was of “very strong fear” and it was “against rationality, against reason and against scientific temper”. How weird. What indeed would P M Bhargava gain by drawing attention to himself by returning his Padma Bhushan award which he has acknowledged as an award that meant a lot to him?
On Tuesday, over 100 senior scientists had also signed an online petition over the same issue.
Bhargava’s statement came after a group of scientists from institutions across the country sent a letter to president Pranab Mukherjee expressing concern about the rise of intolerance, including armed attacks on rationalists.
Stating that statements made by Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagawat that women should restrict themselves to doing household chores were detestable, the 87-year-old scientist said he had chosen to return the award since he was anxious about the future of India.
“I have chosen to return the award”. “I hope the decision taken by me would at least sensitise them towards the alarming situation in the country”.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier said “anti-BJP” and “anti-Modi” sections were “resorting to politics by other means”. “Many of the incidents which had happened in the recent past were assaults on free speech and freedom of expression”. There are always two sides to any event/incident.
“The present government tells us all that which I found unacceptable…The extent of irrationality that we see in these decisions”, he said. Numerous scientists, who are working in the government institutions, including the Delhi-based Indian National Science Academy (INSA), have similar views. “We are not supposed to openly criticise the government for what has been happening in many parts of the country”.
Historians and scientists have joined the growing number of eminent Indians who are raising their voice against what’s being called a culture of growing intolerance in the country.