Two of NISCAIR’s most recently published books were released on 11 October 2011 at a function organized at the Shanti Swarup Sabhagar in the CSIR Headquarters. The National Institute of Science Communication And Information Resources (NISCAIR) has carved out a niche for itself in the area of dissemination of scientific information to the scientific community through its 19 scientific journals; it has also been taking science to the people through its three popular science magazines (Science Reporter, Vigyan Pragati & Science ki Duniya), and also publishing books on various topics of science & technology.
The books were released by Prof. S.K. Sopory, Vice Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Prof. Mridula Mukherjee, noted historian and former Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Former President of NASSCOM, Dr Kiran Karnik and Mr Ge Songxue, Counsellor of Science & Technology Office, Embassy of China in India, were the guests of honour.
The first book, Constructing Culture of Science: Communication of Science in India & China, is an effort to put a wide range of issues related to communication of science and public understanding of science in India and China on the anvil of a serious debate. The book attempts to narrate the story of science communication in the two most populous and also the fastest emerging economies of the world. There is no book that compares science communication efforts being made in two cultures, in such detail.
The second book, Quality Education & Excellence in Science Research in Indian Universities gives a bird’s eye view of the significant deliberations at the 98th Indian Science Congress held at Chennai in January 2011. The volume records the debates, deliberations and discourses in the 14 Sectional Sessions and the 17 Plenary Sessions addressing key issues such as science policy agenda for the next five years, challenges of maintaining quality education, enhancing academia-industry interaction, addressing challenging science issues of climate change, threat to fragile coastal ecosystems, food and nutrition security and so on.
While releasing the book Constructing Culture of Science: Communication of Science in India & China, Prof. Mridula Mukherjee said that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru would have been the most happiest person, not only because the book talks about his favourite topic of science and scientific temper, but also because the book reflected the kind of cooperation and coordination between India and China that he always yearned for. Prof. Mukherjee also said that Nehru was fascinated by scientific phenomena and science for him was a vehicle for giving people a better life. She was happy that NISCAIR was working towards making that Nehruvian framework a reality.
Dr Karnik congratulated NISCAIR and the China Research Institute for Science Popularisation (CRISP), Beijing for having documented science communication in the two countries in such an excellent fashion. Dr Kiran Karnik said that the challenge for science communication was creating an excitement in children about science by looking at the method of science.
Prof. S.K. Sopory, VC-JNU, who released the book Quality Education & Excellence in Science Research in Indian Universities, congratulated the NISCAIR team for having done an excellent job of recording what transpired at the 98th Indian Science Congress, preserving it for future generations. He said that quality education has been the key concern of the Planning Commission and excellence was where the country was lacking. He also said that it was not only necessary to reach science to students but also to those who were not aware of science. And it was here that institutes like NISCAIR could play a big role by communicating science to the masses. He also commended NISCAIR’s scientific journals that were making scientific information available to the people of the country at an affordable cost.
Mr Ge Songxue, Counsellor of Science & Technology Office, Embassy of China in India, said that the book should be seen as a landmark collaborative effort in the field of science and technology between two of the world’s fastest emerging economies that were facing similar challenges. He said it was good to exchange experiences and learn from each other.
Earlier, delivering his welcome address, Dr Gangan Prathap, Director, CSIR-NISCAIR, said that the book Constructing Culture of Science had emerged out of the joint efforts of two leading institutes on science communication, one from India and the other from China. “It is welcome,” he said, “that for the first time, the wisdom of China and the wisdom of India, at least in the specialized field of science communication, had joined to put together this book.”
Some visuals of the event are given here.