Science & Technology

Bringing science to layman: Vigyan Prasar workshops tries to rekindle public interest in science

Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous organisation under the Department of Science and Technology, has been working to kindle interest in science among the masses 

By India Science Wire
Published: Thursday 21 October 2021

Schooling in mother tongue is vital to grasp knowledge related to science and technology. In a world of rapid development, however, school education alone is not adequate. It can get out-dated pretty fast. 

Informal learning spaces such as science clubs, popular science books, science news in newspapers as well as social media messages nurture a learning society.

Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous organisation under the Department of Science and Technology, has been working to kindle the public's interest in science by using physical and multimedia touch points. 

Public response for Vigyan Prasar’s efforts to promote science communication through regional languages has always been immense and is likely to grow further. 

The body plans to reach all district headquarters with field-level activities. Taking the baton forward would be numerous volunteers from various government, non-government, media and educational institutes. 

The organisation conducted a day-long workshop to review and further plan its flagship project called  Science Communication, Popularisation and Extension (SCoPE)-in-Indian Languages (also known as Vigyan Bhasha) at the India International Centre, New Delhi on October 20, 2021.

Participants from all over the country working in various languages under the project joined the meeting.

Besides Hindi and English, 50 SCoPE experts / representatives from Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Assamese, Maithili and Nepali origins attended it.

Eminent science communicators from different parts of the country came forward to plan actionable items and reviewed the work done so far. These included representatives from universities, science and technology centers as well as state S&T departments from across the country.

“To ensure quick and effective implementation of science communication and popularisation at all levels in the society, connecting through one’s own language is the first step. This is why we chose all media products to be designed and developed in Indian languages,” said Nakul Parashar, director, Vigyan Prasar.

He noted that challenges are many but with effective processes and a devoted team of science communicators, the project has achieved numerous milestones in a very short time. 

TV Venkateswaran, scientist F and national coordinator for the project, said: “Vigyan Bhasha would mobilise various agencies, both governmental and nongovernmental to create a national effort to develop materials in Indian languages”.

Vigyan Prasar has chosen Kashmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Assamese, Nepali, Maithili besides Hindi and English in its first phase of enhancing its science outreach programmes.

Project Vigyan Bhasha initiative has unleashed the science communication, popularisation and extension in chosen Indian languages in the last two years: From monthly popular science magazines to regular lectures on latest development and cutting edge research; from publication of popular science books to harnessing social media to capture the imagination of youth; from producing television programmes to the latest science news.

One of the successful efforts under the project was the celebration of ‘Ramanujan Yatra — a nationwide popularisation effort to communicate the strife, struggle and glorious achievement of mathematician Ramanujan.

It addressed the math phobia faced by many by presenting various facets of advanced mathematics in an intelligible way. Sensitising and training media people towards science communication helps position science news and popular science in print and television.

Capacity building programmes were conducted for media and journalism students as well as working journalists on ways to communicate science to the general public. These skill development programmes have attracted wide appreciation and demand.

Publication of popular science books in Indian languages on advanced topics has already commenced in a modest way.

Soon, Vigyan Parasar would bring out publications in various Indian languages and also make an effort to disseminate the publications through book fairs, melas, and regular sales through booksellers including online sales.

In the years to come, the activities would be expanded into other languages, including tribal dialects in phase II. Together with resources persons and local support in the respective districts, Vigyan Prasar is poised to become a torchbearer of science popularisation, under the umbrella of Project Vigyan Bhasha initiative. 

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