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“Vigyanika 2023: Celebrating Science and Literature at IISF 2023”

New Delhi :- 

CSIR-NIScPR shows its commitment for Science Communication in Indian Language

Vigyanika : Science Literature Festival is being held as a part of India International Science Festival 2023. The inaugural ceremony on 18th January 2024 began with the Welcome address by Prof. Ranjana Aggarwal, Director, CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR), New Delhi. Prof. Aggarwal highlighted the importance of scientific temper and CSIR-NIScPR’s commitment to foster scientific awareness. Emphasising the importance of science communication in Indian languages through diverse mediums like puppetry and poems, she underscored Vigyanika’s role as a platform for networking among scientists and science enthusiasts. Dr. Dinakar M. Salunke, Former Director, ICGEB and DBT-RCB, Dr. Subhra Chakraborty, Director, National Institute for Plant Genome Research, New Delhi, and Shri. A Jayakumar, Vijnana Bharati, were the distinguished guests of the inaugural ceremony. Prof. Salunke emphasised the importance of increasing scientific temper and acknowledged that the gap between common masses and scientists should be bridged through various inclusive efforts such as Vigyanika. Dr. Subhra Chakraborty, underscored Vigyanika’s role in fostering discussions on science, aligning with the goals of the New Education Policy 2020 to integrate varying fields such as science and literature in education. She also highlighted development of new innovative technologies that are capable of making India a technologically competent country and the need to take these technologies to the public through science communication channels.

Prof. Ranjana Aggrawal, Director of CSIR-NIScPR while addressing the gathering in Vigyanika event at IISF 2023

Shri A Jayakumar discussed the rich literary tradition of India, which covered a wide range of topics from science to diplomacy. He recognised the contribution that events such as Vigyanika make to the dissemination of science among the general public and bring together of the contemporary science and literature, which have long been interwoven in Indian knowledge systems. The inaugural session was concluded with the Vote of Thanks by Dr. Paramananda Barman, CSIR-NIScPR.

Scientific Session-I with the theme of Science and Technology Public Outreach in India began with an introduction by the Chair Prof. B. N. Jagatap, Senior Professor, IIT Bombay, who advocated the importance of citizen participation in science which can be achieved through science communication efforts that encourage evidence-based science and scientific way of thinking in everyday life. The Keynote Address by Prof. Dinakar M. Salunke highlighted the need to extend scientific research from labs to the general populace, emphasising the historical contributions of Indian scientists. Using India’s recent achievements in space and vaccine technology as examples, he also discussed the significance of funding innovative scientific endeavours while including indigenous efforts. Using the example of interacting with patients in a medical setting, Prof. Uma Kumar, AIIMS, New Delhi, discussed the significance of training in scientific communication which could affect how individuals perceive emerging technologies or developing drugs and vaccines. She emphasised that in order for science communication initiatives to be successful, local leaders and innovative technologies must be included and socio-cultural factors should be taken into account. Prof. Gobardhan Das, Jawaharlal Nehru University, stated the need to communicate science in languages other than English so that language is not a barrier. Prof. K. C. Bansal, Former Director, ICAR-NBPGR, gave a talk on genome editing and GM crops.

Panel discussion I on the theme Apni Bhasha Apna Vigyan: Strengthening Science–Communication in Indian Languages was the next session. This stimulating session was chaired by Padma Shri Chamu Krishna Shastry, Chairman, Bharatiya Bhasha Samiti and featured discussions from experts in various Indian languages including Tamil, Assamese, Punjabi, Manipuri, Malayalam, and Odiya. The panellists for the session were Prof. V. P. N. Nampoori, Dr Neelima Jerath, Dr. H. B. Singh, Dr. Uthra Dorairajan, Dr. Mantu Bhuyan and Prof Saroj Kant Barik. During the discussion, the experts stressed the importance of scientific communication in Indian languages in order to cross language barriers and strengthen communication. The panel discussion was followed by the release of an Assamese magazine, Bigyan Lahar, a collaborative initiative by CSIR-NIScPR and CSIR-NEIST, and then the release of a Tamil flip book “Treasures of Indian Tradition: A Journey through Scientifically Validated Indian Traditional Knowledge” as a part of CSIR-NIScPR’s SVASTIK initiative.

There was a parallel session cum Workshop on popular science writing by Shri Hasan Jawaid Khan, Former Chief Scientist, CSIR-NIScPR, and Dr. H. S. Sudhira, Director, Gubbi Labs.

Scientific Session II included presentations by various speakers from across the country focusing on the topic Science Communication in India: Current Trends, Opportunities and Challenges, which was chaired by Dr. Paresh K Joshi, Reader, TIFR-HBCSE.

Along with the scientific sessions, there was an exhibition by CSIR-NIScPR showcasing its publications and by SVASTIK, a CSIR initiative to disseminate scientifically validated Indian traditional knowledge. The event concluded for the day with a cultural programme on the confluence of arts and science.