Our next speaker in the Science Engagement And Development Seminar series is Dr. Niruj Mohan Ramanujam from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Public Outreach and Education Committee of the Astronomical Society of India.
Starting from the Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha in 1987, India has seen more than 3 decades of mass movements to promote science awareness and scientific literacy. In a country as populous and diverse as India, such large scale campaigns have a crucial role to play. These campaigns are motivated by the concept of ‘Scientific Temper’, a term formulated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1946. Some of the most successful mass campaigns have been in the field of Astronomy. Of late though, advocacy for rationality and scientific temper are coming under attack from populist forces, and is becoming an arena of political conflict.
In this talk, I will trace the history of these Peoples Science Movements and allied groups, explain the methodology of these mass campaigns, illustrate them with examples from Astronomy, and end with a summary of the current status, including the growing opposition from right wing forces.