Hyderabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Dr. Pushpa Mittra Bhargava, a leading Indian scientists, has decided to return the Padma Bhushan award in protest against the climate of "religious intolerance" that has spread in the country.
The award is one of the most important honors awarded by the President of India to those who stand out "in the high service to the nation."
While returning the prize, Bhargava stated: “This award was very dear to me, I've received over 100 awards but this is the only one I received from the government, but I'm giving it away without any hesitation because at this moment the climate is such that we have many concerns. "
Dr. Bhargava, founder and director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, was also awarded the French Legion of Honour. He is the latest in a long list of intellectuals who in recent weeks have been returning prestigious lifetime awards to protest against intolerance and violence unleashed by Hindu fundamentalists in India.
Only a week ago about 100 writers took to the streets in the capital of the demonstrating against the killing of secular writer MM Kalburgi, murdered in late August for his ideas on worship of Hindu deities and sacred rituals. Also they denounced the numerous incidents of violence against religious minorities in the country, of which the case of the Muslim man lynched in Dadri (Uttar Pradeshfor eating beef, is only the most striking.
Critics of the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the Hindu nationalist party) Narendra Modi complain that he can not doing enough to counter the extremism of Hindu fanatics and protect freedom of expression.
The scientist added: " The government is moving away from the path of democracy and moving on a path of religion and making the country into a Hindu religious autocracy ". "Our constitution – he concludes - demands that we possess scientific temper and a commitment to reason".