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Science Communication in India UPSC NOTE

 Science Communication in India

  • India’s contemporary science communication landscape looks different

  • In 2021, the government set up the CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR) by merging two previous institutions. 

  • Nearly all national science funding agencies have science communication divisions, which issue press releases, conduct social media campaigns, and garner support for exhibitions, popular lectures, etc.

  • Science communication activities from research organisations, universities, social enterprises, non-profit organisations, and professional collectives have also picked up. 

  • They include efforts to bridge science communication and journalism, science education and outreach, and even art and science.

  • On the other hand, despite its remarkable achievements, the government closed Vigyan Prasar in early 2023.

  • Taken together, science communication in India has new opportunities today – even as it exposes old and new lacunae, and reinforces the need for

  • a larger conversation we need to have on science communication training, practice, and strategy in the country.

Government Efforts

  • The history of state-backed science communication in post-independence India can be traced to a series of policy resolutions and government-led programmes. 

  • In 1951, the government established the Publications & Information Directorate (PID) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). 

  • The PID published the national science magazines Vigyan Pragati (Hindi), Science Reporter (English), and Science Ki Duniya (Urdu).

  • The government followed up with an attempt to define India’s scientific heritage and the cause of promoting science education through the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum in Calcutta in 1959. 

  • In 1976, Parliament passed the 42nd amendment to the Constitution

  • This included Article 51 A(h) and its statement: “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop a scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform.”

  • Soon after, the sixth Five Year Plan (1980-1985) promoted the need to popularise science and nurture scientific thinking in India, and established the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC). 

  • In 1989, the Department of Science and Technology set up Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous organisation to popularise science at large.

Successes – Challenges – Recommendations

  • A space mission involves a well-defined and largely one-way relay of scientific information, and has the advantage of an inherent visual appeal, aspirational intent, and national sentiment

  • On the other hand, science communication in a pandemic is an interdisciplinary effort built around a grim, protracted, and evolving situation, and intended to promote public compliance with good ‘pandemic habits’ like physical distancing, masking, and vaccination.

  • These contrasting communication endeavours underscore the diverse nature of contemporary science engagement.

  • Science communication involves all forms of communication around science, scientific work, its outcomes, discussions on its ethical, societal, or political impacts, and direct conversations with scientists as well as diverse audiences. 

  • Today, ‘science communication’ is an umbrella term that also includes the exchange of scientific knowledge, institutional outreach, and public engagement with science.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Science Communication in India UPSC NOTE
Science Communication in India UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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