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Science Communication in India

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • The coverage of Chandrayaan-3 exemplified effective public communication of advanced scientific endeavors.

More about the news

  • Science communication involves the dissemination of information related to science, scientific work, outcomes, ethical considerations, and societal impacts.
  • It includes interactions with scientists, discussions on the political and ethical aspects of scientific endeavours, institutional outreach, and public engagement with science.
  • Governments and experts played a crucial role in communicating scientific and healthcare-related information during the pandemic.
  • Aimed at promoting public compliance with pandemic-related guidelines such as physical distancing, masking, and vaccination.
  • Serves to integrate scientific cultures into India’s diverse society, fostering scientific thinking and awareness.
  • It acts as an effective tool for extending scientific boundaries.
  • Gains public support for essential research and development activities that are indispensable for societal development.
Government Initiatives

Establishment of Publications & Information Directorate (PID):

·       In 1951, the government established the PID under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

·       Published national science magazines like Vigyan Pragati (Hindi), Science Reporter (English), and Science Ki Duniya (Urdu).

Constitutional Amendment (1976):

·       The 42nd amendment to the Constitution in 1976 included Article 51 A(h), emphasizing the duty of every citizen to develop a scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry.

National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC):

·       Established during the sixth Five Year Plan (1980-1985) to popularize science and nurture scientific thinking in India.

Vigyan Prasar (1989):

·       Set up by the Department of Science and Technology as an autonomous organization to popularize science at large.

Modern Scenario (2021):

·       The government established the CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR) by merging two previous institutions.

·       National science funding agencies have dedicated science communication divisions for press releases, social media campaigns, exhibitions, and popular lectures.

Improving Science Communication in India

  • Scientists should be provided training in the art of science communication.
  • Journalists must be oriented towards at least a basic understanding of sciences and its methodology.
  • Expanding science communication degree programs in India at master’s and doctoral levels could support training and research in the field. This would lead to a trained cadre of science communicators with an informed understanding of the needs, perspectives, and consequences of their work in diverse educational, linguistic, and cultural contexts in the country.
  • Scientists should be rewarded for their efforts in communicating science to the public.
  • Nourishing public engagement and translating research papers into regional languages can be encouraged and acknowledged.
  • Establishing more platforms for scientists and media practitioners to have close dialogues on issues related to scientific developments.
  • A professional organization with experts from various fields should work closely with government-level science departments and offices.
  • Frameworks should cut across disciplines, involving science, medicine, disaster management, national security, diplomacy groups, and various media formats.

Way Forward

  • Given the role of scientific solutions in addressing national challenges, India needs a large-scale science communication strategy.
  • Effective communication between journalists and the scientific community can create a mutual understanding, yielding positive outcomes.
  • More seriously planned agenda and policies for science communication in a transparent manner are prerequisites to engage and speed up science communication.

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