Someone righty said “The science of today is the technology of tomorrow. We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology”
Striving towards building a science communication arena for society and disseminating the scientific findings that are happening within the four walls of the science labs to the space centre and making their discoveries, inventions and findings reach the public, Vigyan Prasar becomes a one-stop destination for disseminating scientific findings to the masses. Vigyan Prasar (VP) is an autonomous organization set by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, in 1989 striving continuously to popularise the wonders of science amongst the common people. Serving the sole agenda of taking large–scale India’s Science popularisation, VP has enlisted several initiatives to practice, inform, aware, and educate citizens of India, about the growth of science and technology. In other words, it has created an atmosphere of wonders of science through its various projects to foster the scientific temper of every non-scientific folk without barring the age groups.
In the contemporary era, Science is getting harder to read. We must understand delivering scientific research to layman is a must. Especially after the Covid era, after a lot of myths and misconceptions about the basic knowledge of health science, people have become the victims of rumours. Scientific findings were not understood and many people lost their lives due to not having the right knowledge about the pandemic. Thus we need to create a scientific sky on non-scientific land. In simpler words, ask a child to ride a hot air balloon without taking a spacecraft and feel the space.
While addressing an event Year Long Celebrations of Inspirational Indian Scientists, held on 22nd Dec 2021, Former Vice President of India, and Shri Venkaiah Naidu said, “There is a need for better science communication in regional languages to reach out to people in their mother language and inculcate a scientific temper among them.”
Speaking of Vigyan Prasar’s Publication Programme, it has served tremendously in delivering science literature reads in the form of popular science books, magazines, and newsletters to enlighten our audience in local languages. Additionally, Dream 2047 which is a bilingual magazine of VP, has made a progressive impact on our readers.
Vigyan Prasar has set a unique agenda for creating a vibrant and scientifically aware nation and citizens through its various programs
Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) is an initiative conceptualized & supported by National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) Division, Department of Science and Technology (DST) which gives the wings to young researchers who are looking for great opportunity to evolve and develop their science writings, showcase their research articles.
An opportunity that inspires the scientific temperament and recalls the possibility of publishing science stories and communicating to society. Dr Praveen Arora, who is the Advisor and Head of NCSTC, DST highlights “India is a pool of young researchers. The country ranks third in scientific publications output after China and USA; and not only this, India is ranked third in the number of PhDs awarded in Science & Technology. We see most of the stories are outsourced from foreign. However, these stories have less proximity and relevance to which India couldn’t serve the local contexts and the diverse needs of society in communicating scientific discoveries. Department of Science and Technology and National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) Division initiated a program AWSAR in the year 2018 that envisages bridging the existing gap in communicating research to the common man by utilizing the latent potential of PhD Scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows (PDFs).
Again, generating robust knowledge of science amongst local masses isn’t an easy task yet VP’s Science Communication Programmes have significantly contributed to delivering the fundamental knowledge of science and extended its reach to every corner of India. Speaking of making a Science outreach through Science Programs, VP has a number of platforms like India Science Channel (OTT), Publications like DREAM 2047, (bi-lingual magazine), Science through Radio ‘HAM Radio’ to NSFFI Science Films event and exhibitions and fairs are some of the examples that profoundly defines the agenda of VP.
Fostering scientific temperament amongst young research scholars is the need of the hour. Expressing the views on the importance of science popularisation, one of the Science researchers, Sreejan Alapati said “Science developed as people in medieval times started to observe and make an understanding of that observation. Back then, not everyone was interested in observations made or they didn’t want to change their already existing perspectives on the way things work. For example, it took centuries for people to believe in the heliocentric model of the solar system. As science advanced and inventions of machinery grew from the postulates made in science, people started believing in science. With the Industrial revolution, science and research began reaching more people. All that happened without the internet or the great connectivity of people around the world. Thus science communication is important not just in the 21st century, but forever.”
In the 21st century, when the internet is there to connect people all around the world, it becomes obvious as a civilization to have even more growth collectively. But, the research done today progresses slowly, even when the world is connected. The reason could be the availability of resources both tangible and material to an individual in the science and research stream. Information that exists in journals today might not be accessible to everyone. However, most researchers look up to the media to know about growth in science and development. In such a context, young researchers are highly commended for displaying their original ideas and discoveries as part of Project AWSAR, which also inspires them to continue working on scientific research and present their stories while they are still in the initial stages of research development.
Positive aspects of Vigyan Prasar
The goal of VIGYAN PRASAR is to simply generate a scientific arena and let people think and apply science day-to-day to day lives without discouraging their non-scientific knowledge. Our younger generation should be made aware of about new scientific approaches and technologies, foster creativeness in them; through our programmes and activities happening time to time. Simultaneously, VP is working positively to include women in the science and technology stream. To generate interest amongst and promote the role of women in science” Gender and Science Technology” programme has set a novel agenda in the department. Communicating Science effectively through all age groups of women coming from different socio-economic strata focus on the overall decision making of women in the science and get accustomed to apply in their everyday lives. This inclusiveness creates space for all to communicate and engage within the framework of science and technology in the service in the service of our nation.
As quoted by Neil de Grasse Tyson who is an American astrophysicist, planetary scientist, author, and science communicator “Science is not a subject you took in school. It’s life. We are wrapped by it, in it, and with it”.
Vigyan Prasar turned into an instrument in delivering discoveries and inventions to the citizen of India . Becoming the voice of citizen scientists, our programmes are reaching last mile and we firmly believe that our job has just begun and miles are yet to cover. It has also facilitated strategies for bilateral and multilateral initiatives and assisted in national missions science related schemes to strengthen outreach/engagement interventions. Nevertheless VP strives to adapt, utilize, and employ new and emerging technologies for Science and Communication Popularisation and stemming the science in every household.
Speaking on the positive aspects of popularisation of science in the society happening through Vigyan Prasar, the young research scholar from Hyderabad told that “Growth of a society depends on the ideologies of people living in the society. Imagine a caveman never inventing the wheel or fire; all the cultural advancements would never have happened. Growth in science brings work to a lot of people, that are not involved in the science and research directly too. Advancement in science and education will advance the growth of civilization, in terms of an economic standpoint and also makes lives easy. If all the inventions ever made are all kept secret, people would still be struggling to get the basic needs of food, water or shelter. Henceforth, Vigyan Prasar had made popularising science in such a simpler manner that it is inspiring more people from a very young age to choose science communication and science research as a career. When more minds work for the development of society by inventing and exploring, humanity as a whole will advance. Showing people the wonders in science and research that happen in the contemporary world is significantly happening through Vigyan Prasar programmes”
When we talk about delivering relevant and appropriate information promptly, VP teams have left no stone unturned, specifically in science-oriented communication programmes. It is indeed setting a benchmark in science communication and popularisation in the country before it becomes difficult, Vigyan Prasar has embark upon a journey which would lead to many more success stories.