Taking science to lay public

Taking science to lay public

New Delhi, Oct 20: Schooling in mother tongue is vital for grasping knowledge related to science and technology. However, in a world of rapid development of science and technology research, school education alone is not adequate. It can get outdated very fast.  Informal learning spaces such as science clubs, popular science books, science news in newspapers, social media messages provide opportunities for nurturing a learning society.

Vigyan Prasar has been working to kindle interest in science among the masses using all physical and multimedia touchpoints.  Public response for VigyanPrasar’s efforts to promote science communication through regional languages has always been immense and is likely to grow further. 

Going forward, VigyanPrasar plans to reach every district headquarters with field-level activities. Taking the baton forward would be the numerous volunteers from various government, nongovernment, media, and educational institutes who have come forward to assist these initiatives in various states and UTs.

Vigyan Prasar (VP) organized 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 VigyanBhasha) at the India International Centre, New Delhi on October 20. Participants from all over the country working in various languages under the project joined the meeting.

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

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

“To ensure quick and effective implementation of Science Communication & 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 & developed in Indian languages,” said Dr NakulParashar, Director of VigyanPrasar and brain behind the project.

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 period. 

Dr T V Venkateswaran, Scientist F and the National Coordinator for the project said- “VigyanBhasha would mobilise various agencies, both governmental and nongovernmental to create a national effort to develop materials in Indian languages”.

VigyanPrasar 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.

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, the Project VigyanBhasha initiative has unleashed the science communication, popularisation and extension in chosen Indian languages in the past two years.

One of the successful and massive efforts, under the project was the celebration of ‘RamanujanYatra – a nationwide popularisation effort to communicate the strife, struggle and glorious achievement of mathematician Ramanujan and the same time address the maths phobia by presenting various facets of advanced mathematics in a way that is appealing and intelligible.

Sensitising and training media people towards science communication helps position science news and popular science in print and television. With this aim capacity building programmes were conducted for media & journalism students as well as working journalists on how 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, VP 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, VigyanPrasar is poised to become a torchbearer of science popularization, under the umbrella of Project VigyanBhasha initiative. (India Science Wire)

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