Banner
    Science, India and Science communication
    By Hardik Panchal | July 15th 2012 01:24 AM | 17 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hardik

    I am a science writer and a research analyst from India. Love to write about recent issues related to public policy making in science and environment...

    View Hardik's Profile

    Science has always been fascinating to Indians. In an incident which happened to me personally was when I was waiting for a bus one day at a travel stand, there was a common TV. When I randomly started surfing channels, and my fingers stopped on Discovery channel, the public insisted I not change the channel for a while, as they wanted to see the Man Vs Wild episode.

     And they were not specific science students, just common people who were fascinated by the world of science. When I asked one of them, 'why do you like watching science stuff?' he replied that "the way science is shown on this channel makes every one of us understand even if we don't have a basic knowledge of it". 

    Science has a very old culture in India. Though at ancient times there was no awareness about  heavy words like health, space and environment, the interest reflects from ancient scientific literature which shows that yoga, ayurveda and structures like Jantar Mantar engaged many people directly or indirectly in scientific activities. 

    Today, passionate about science, the public unfortunately don't get much scientific information from Indian laboratories. Even if they get to get some, they don't get it in the way they want. My point of view says there are three major reasons behind it. 

    One of them is lack of scientific communication from departments in India. While universities in America and Europe have a dedicated staff for science communication, India lags behind.  The fact everywhere is that the media tends to pay attention to press releases by Universities and Research Institutes and they print it online or in newspapers. Sometimes media needs to contact specific science communication departments and do further research before printing the news. The GAP between Scientists and Media can only be filled by Expert Science communicators in various departments of Indian labs. Lack of communicators not only makes things difficult for the media to take information, but also for the scientists convey the proper information to Media. 

    Secondly, Indian research hardly includes any subject like science communication. There is no such thing like a Ph.D. in science communication, though we have many PhD's in general mass communication and other interdisciplinary subjects. Except some two to three masters courses in science communication, there is non dedicated research labs or  research work can fulfill the communication requirements of the country. 

    Thirdly, the ‘common man hardly understands the language of books’. Science should be taught to them like a story and not a subject. Animations and film production  have to be engaged in making science more fascinating. Communicators should film more and more research work and put it on public domains like Youtube and other social networking sites.   

    Additionally,  I would like to say that students get confused when it comes to subjects like mass communication, science communication and library science. More core level science communication courses should be introduced in India and students should be urged to take up masters and further studies in science communication as it has important role to play in scientific policy making of the country.

    I hope research at PhD level in science communication will start soon in India and a thought will be given to  how public policy making is largely driven by science communication in  a democracy.
    ‘Science comes from a common man and goes to a common man’.

    Comments

    very interesting artical and the line was very true science comes from a common man and goes to a common man...
    and science communication should start in india to clear the confusion of Indian.......

    hardikpanc97
    Thanks smita...
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India
    A really good article....precise and to the point....

    It is very sad that science communication is not given much importance in India but by talking about this issue through such articles we can create awareness about the importance of taking science to the common man in a way they understand!

    hardikpanc97
    Thanks for your valuable comment...Science communication in India needs to grow for sure..
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India
    Hi Hardik. I have written about issues in Science Communication on my blog (http://richa-malhotra.blogspot.in/) and I have now realized that one can routinely write about mundane topics than do anything about it. I disagree with your statement "Media is least bothered to take information directly from Journals and do research on it and then print the news." At Current Science journal I handled media relations and science journalists took quite an interest in writing about our journal's papers. Though journalists were following the journal regularly before we even started mailing them a press release, sending press release did expand the coverage. So you have to understand that it is a two-way process.

    hardikpanc97
    Yes Richa thanks for the comment..Yes I had checked your blog...Its very impressive.I read it regularly :-). Appreciate your work for current science....Here, I am more specific about the general scientific media which sometimes demand for press releases of research work whereas in India all Universities don't do that..So press release and its importance in scientific community is highlighted (not in negative sense that reporters do not read journals)

    And yes you are right .Sometimes I do feel nobody takes initiative about these things and forget after writing...Instead I do the reverse..yes I have taken some initiative which is at beta version now and I had also given presentation about my initiative in IGNOU and Vigyan Prasar. Even people from NCSTC is aware of it now..I'll let u know as soon as i  released full fledged version..I hope enthusiastic Science Communicators like you will support and help me ...This initiative is taken after taking opinions from lakhs of people during my exploration journey. Hope it will help them ..
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India
    Great going then. I think I have been misunderstood and I had like to clarify that what I meant was mainstream media regularly covers papers published in Current Science, whether or not they are sent a press release. BTW, I would like to know more about your initiatives. You can e-mail me, if you don't feel free to discuss it here.

    hardikpanc97
    yes thanks dear...I edited the upper comment with more clarification...yes I will mail you about my initiative ...just couple of days more...my e mail id is hardikpanc87@gmail.com ....Just send me a test mail from your current active email ID..
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India
    It doesn't seem very right to me to edit (update) a comment you have already posted to prove a point. You should have followed the thread. It could disappoint your commenter and readers. At least I was.

    hardikpanc97
    Opinions differ.Its ok. I take it will take care next time....Well what I mean to say is I highlighted the importance of press release and also appreciate the reporters who do read journals. Overall, I would love to see science communication departments in India being established bcoz they establish links between reporters and scientists..Hope you agree with me this time..:-)
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India
    Yup, I got you the last time itself.

    hardikpanc97
    Okays...
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India
    hardikpanc97
    Good to know that....will message you the updates on initiative soon..
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India
    Sure! I think you have my e-mail id. GN.

    hardikpanc97
    Cool! if its the same one..GN..
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India
    Ashwani Kumar
    All we need is education and above all education of science for common man to save our nature and biodiversity. 
    hardikpanc97
    True sir...Environment communication issues also should be addressed
    Regards, Hardik P Science writer Bangalore, India