One of the important changes that has occurred in the structure
and practice of science in the last five decades or so has been
the emergence of a plethora of ethical issues that relate to administration,
practice, dissemination and use of science.
This has been largely due to a dramatic increase in the pace of
scientific progress during the above period when compared to the
preceding era. During the earlier period the rate of progress of
science was slow enough for it to be assimilated by the society.
If any ethical issue arose, the concerned sector of the society
had time and ability to analyse, understand and resolve it so that
it really became a matter of public concern and debate. This unfortunately
is not so today with the consequence that a whole plethora of increasingly
complicated ethical issues have kept cropping up, be they in respect
of genetic engineering, law of the ocean, remote sensing, medical
practice or assisted reproductive technologies.
The increasing pressure on scientists and increasing value laid
by all sectors of society on science - in fact, increasing dependence
of our very existence on science - has put pressures on scientists
that they are often unable to handle within a framework of accepted
and reasonable norms of behaviour. This has led to unethical practices
such as plagiarism and the like.
While no part of the world has been totally free of ethical issues
in science in the last several decades, India has been one of the
worst affected in this respect on account of a host of India-specific
reasons. For example, while India is one of the poorest countries
of the world with perhaps, the largest number of illiterates and
highest social disparities, it is amongst the most scientifically
and technologically developed countries.
Keeping all this in mind a group of the country's distinguished
scientists with high international and national credentials, led
by Prof. Avtar Paintal, FRS, set up the Society for Scientific Values
The society has obviously no legal or administrative powers, but
it enjoys high moral credibility. It has taken up cases from time
to time, where values intrinsic to science, which we term collectively
as "scientific ethics" has been compromised.
The Society for Scientific (SSV) has also from time to time, organised
meetings with a specific purpose, for e.g. a meeting organised by
it in April 2000 on Ethics in Administration of Science, had a significant
impact on a wide spectrum of people.
The objective of this website is to acquaint all those concerned
directly or indirectly with sciences around the world, with the
activities of the Society. It will post on the site the cases where
it has come to a specific conclusion.