India is a land of many languages. Considerable science communication has been happening in English language in India. However, a large majority of the Indian population cannot read, write, or communicate in English. It is therefore important to carry out science communication activities in Indian languages.
The CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR) has recently created a ‘Studies in Science Communication Division’. One of the objectives of the Division is to promote science communication in Indian languages. Recently, the Division organized two virtual workshops on “Studies in Science Communication and Popular Science Writing: Assessment and Future Needs”. The first workshop was held on 22 February in Hindi and the second workshop was held on 23 February 2022 in Assamese. Hindi and Assamese science communication and popular science experts participated in the workshops. Writing exercises were a salient feature of the two workshops.
It was deliberated that over the years, science communication and popular science literature have undergone several changes. Science communication has produced many positive impacts on society and public at large. There was a time when people hesitated to watch solar and lunar eclipses. But owing to the science communication efforts in the country, today people watch these celestial events in large numbers using protective lens or telescopes.
One of the objectives of science communication is S&T based skill development among youth. Science communication can help in making the youth aware about requisite S&T for a better livelihood. The social media has played crucial role in percolating S&T awareness among the public. Misinformation, disinformation, fake news etc., are challenges that need to be addressed by the science communicators.
The workshop experts and participants agreed that popular science writing in all Indian languages is essential. Experts of the workshops discussed the broad goals and need of science communication and popular science writing along with current challenges and future needs. They were of the view that studies as well as literature production are essential to document the science communication efforts in the regional languages of the country. A few experts discussed about various formats and communication media which have been used to communicate science over the years. Role of print media, electronic media (radio, community radio and television), digital media and social media were discussed.
The two workshops in Hindi and Assamese were organized as the pilot programmes. The CSIR-NIScPR’s Studies in Science Communication Division plans to organize more such workshops in other Indian languages in coming future.
Dr. Manish Mohan Gore