The proposed paper is based on several case studies of science movement organizations (SMOs) in India. These case studies include some of the more active SMOs–Kerala Sashtra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), Marathi Vidnyan Parishad (MVP), Delhi Science Forum (DSF), Eklavya, and Bharat Gyan Vigyan Parishad (BGVS)–all integrated under an umbrella network known as the All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN).  Based on primary as well as secondary data collected from SMOs, this paper attempts to (a) portray the life cycles such as emergence (ideological roots), growth (activities and diversification, if any) and decline/renewal of these SMOs, and (b) analyze the said phenomenon from the vantage of social movement perspective. Science movements in India might have started as a discursive movement where activism started with a discourse and later on manifested in some form of social mobilization. But as the analysis of this study shows discursive formation is not an encompassing framework to justly explain the movement. It fails to do so particularly because of the grassroots activities of KSSP and emergence of pan-India organizations like BGVS that indulges in popular social mobilizations. The analysis indicates that of late, the science movements in India have taken the shape of social mobilization. At the same time it further indicates that science movements have grown beyond the conventional social movement framework, i.e. from mobilization to institutionalization. The emergent institutions have not culminated as the end-processes, rather make an intermediary phase, beyond which some of these SMOs have become dormant, some have started declining, some have withered away making way for new institutions and some have emerged stronger by realigning themselves under larger umbrella organizations. In the process the movement renews itself, as new SMOs have also emerged. But at the same time it is observed that the movement has lost its original radical teeth, spontaneity and focus. More of it have come under the influence of the government and have shifted their areas of focus (to literacy, environmental awareness and even rehabilitation and resettlement issues). Hence, science movements in India now have acquired more the hues of “social–activism” (not that of pure science as it was earlier). The paper is one of the pioneering works on public communication of science and technology in contemporary India, through which attempt has been made to identify science with social criticism/activism and to perceive the same through social movement perspective. By studying science as a means of social criticism and social activism the paper forges a strong link between science as a social institution and contemporary social processes in India.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Scientific citizens
Understanding science movements and democratization in India

Subhasis Sahoo   Science and Technology Area, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

Binay Kumar Pattnaik   Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

The proposed paper is based on several case studies of science movement organizations (SMOs) in India. These case studies include some of the more active SMOs–Kerala Sashtra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), Marathi Vidnyan Parishad (MVP), Delhi Science Forum (DSF), Eklavya, and Bharat Gyan Vigyan Parishad (BGVS)–all integrated under an umbrella network known as the All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN).  Based on primary as well as secondary data collected from SMOs, this paper attempts to (a) portray the life cycles such as emergence (ideological roots), growth (activities and diversification, if any) and decline/renewal of these SMOs, and (b) analyze the said phenomenon from the vantage of social movement perspective. Science movements in India might have started as a discursive movement where activism started with a discourse and later on manifested in some form of social mobilization. But as the analysis of this study shows discursive formation is not an encompassing framework to justly explain the movement. It fails to do so particularly because of the grassroots activities of KSSP and emergence of pan-India organizations like BGVS that indulges in popular social mobilizations. The analysis indicates that of late, the science movements in India have taken the shape of social mobilization. At the same time it further indicates that science movements have grown beyond the conventional social movement framework, i.e. from mobilization to institutionalization. The emergent institutions have not culminated as the end-processes, rather make an intermediary phase, beyond which some of these SMOs have become dormant, some have started declining, some have withered away making way for new institutions and some have emerged stronger by realigning themselves under larger umbrella organizations. In the process the movement renews itself, as new SMOs have also emerged. But at the same time it is observed that the movement has lost its original radical teeth, spontaneity and focus. More of it have come under the influence of the government and have shifted their areas of focus (to literacy, environmental awareness and even rehabilitation and resettlement issues). Hence, science movements in India now have acquired more the hues of “social–activism” (not that of pure science as it was earlier). The paper is one of the pioneering works on public communication of science and technology in contemporary India, through which attempt has been made to identify science with social criticism/activism and to perceive the same through social movement perspective. By studying science as a means of social criticism and social activism the paper forges a strong link between science as a social institution and contemporary social processes in India.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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