Science communication through cultural events A success story from India
Manoj Patairiya National Council for Science & Technology Communication, Technology Bhavan
India possesses a great treasure of cultural heritage in the form of her traditional rituals, festivals and socio-recreational activities, including mass involvement of people during such festivals. It was observed that people in far flung villages are still accustomed to age old practices and traditions and have a number of beliefs and miss-beliefs, which are the main constraints to their development. This unscientific attitude is considered to be one of the important root causes of most of the miseries of the people. The author has always been exploring ways and means to penetrate deeper into the socio-cultural fabric of the society to establish and strengthen the process of communication between the scientific community and the people at large, bringing them to the main stream of development. In the process, it was discovered that if the scientific contents and concepts can be weaved with cultural fabric of society, the process of science communication could become more effective and appreciable. Recently, the intervention of a well conceptualized, formulated,planned, implemented and coordinated programme, i.e. ‘Science Communication through Cultural Events’, has been able to trigger interest and curiosity, especially amongst rural folk and has started making a difference. The public attitude is changing; now they tend to be more analytical and rational in their approach and behaviour; they now rush to take anti-venom injection, in case of snakebite as a contrast to earlier days when they used to consult so called god-man for such remedies. These are some of the clearly visible indicators of changes over the period; only one programme cannot be credited for this entire success, it is a result of collective efforts of a number of science communication programmes by various organizations and individuals. The current programme, however, has been able to attract a large cross section of the society and motivate it towards a scientific culture. This is beginning of the end of age old superstitions and ignorance though several miles are yet to go.