Science for Social Revolution


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SCIENCE FOR SOCIAL REVOLUTION
A Reader Editor : M.P.Parameswaran First Edition : February 2013 Editorial Assistant : Sarath Sasi.V Published and Distributed by : Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath,
Thrissur - 680004 E-mail : [email protected] Type setting : Umadevi Layout & cover : Vipindas Printed at : Theressa Offset Printers, Angamaly
` 200.00
KSSP 1962 I E Feb 2013 A4 0.5k 20000 FT 899/2013

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Publisher’s Note
The All India People’s Science Network was formally constituted in 1988, just after the first All India People’s Science Congress, held at Kannur, on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath. At that time Dr.B.Ekbal and Dr.T.M.Thomas Isaac together presented a paper entitled Science for Social Revolution, a slogan formulated by the KSSP in 1973, to guide its own activities. This slogan has been guiding KSSP since then.
For KSSP it means the following : (i) partisanship towards poor (ii) arming their movements with the weapon of scientific knowledge and (iii) reversing the ongoing process of impoverishment of the many and enrichment of a few, at the expense of the many.
The People’s Science Movement at the national level too is partisan to the poor, but it had never formulated an overarching slogan for itself. Attempts to delineate a clear perspective for the PSMs have been going on from the very beginning.
During the 13th All India People’s Science Congress held at Thrissur in 2010, one full day was set apart for the discussion on the “Perspective of the PSM”. KSSP is now celebrating its Golden Jubilee. It is appropriate to continue the discussions initiated during 1988 and continued till date and take them to a commonly accepted framework which can focus the multifarious activities of the PSM towards a desired goal.
This collection of papers is expected to form the basis for the continuation of this discussion.
Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath

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Contents

Part I : Science for Social Revolution

Dr.B.Ekbal and Dr.T.M.Thomas Isaac

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Part II : Experience of Pan Indian PSM

M.P.Parameswaran

52

Part III :13th All India People’s Science Congress Papers on PSM

Learning from the Past and Looking to the Future

67

Amit Sen Gupta

People’s Science Movements, Practice and

Challenge of Mobilization of ‘‘Science for People”

Dinesh Abrol

80

A Perspective for People’s Science Movement in India

D.Raghunandanan

99

People’s Science Movement in India

K.N.Ganesh

110

Revisiting the Agenda for People’s Science

Vinod Raina

116

A Manifesto for People’s Science Movement

M.P.Parameswaran

130

Appendix I : Desh Ko Janein, Desh ko Badlein

A Draft Concept for Action

136

Appendix II : PSM Vision India - 2030/2050

T.Gangadharan, C.T.S.Nair, M.P.Parameswaran

138

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SCIENCE FOR

SOCIAL REVOLUTION A Reader

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Part I
Science for Social Revolution
Dr.B.Ekbal and Dr.T.M.Thomas Isaac
The development of People’s Science Movements (PSMs) is relatively a new social phenomenon
in India. There have been numerous educational groups working for the popularisation of science in regional languages some of which can be traced to the pre-independence period. Scientists like Satyendra Nath Bose themselves had taken the initiative to form Bangiya Vigyan Parishad, Assam Science Society, Bigyan Prachar Samiti, Orissa and so on.
More recently, the ‘50s and the ‘60s saw the emergence of numerous voluntary groups around various aspects of the application of science and technology in the development process, especially in the rural areas. Even though the professional scientific organizations have, by and large, continued to confine themselves to the narrow concerns of their disciplines, a large number of individual scientists, dissatisfied with their scientific practice, have increasingly been drawn to science-based social activist groups. The gulf between what is the realm of possibility through the application of modern science and technology and what has been achieved in 40 years of independence could not but arouse the indignation of a concerned intellectual.
The above stirrings have mostly been at the level of groups working at micro regions or around some specific issues. But there are a few instances where science-based social activism has developed into mass movements or revealed such a potential. The Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath is one such people’s science movement. The KSSP has evolved into a mass movement seeking to popularise science and the scientific attitude among the people, to arm them and their organisations with science, to mobilise people against the abuses of science, to campaign for alternatives that are more in conformity with interests of the people and to agitate for the development of self-reliant science and technology for the nation. All these have been sought to be captured through the slogan of the Parishath : “Science for Social Revolution.”
The Parishath, however, was not built according to any previously defined and elaborated programme or ideology. At the time of its inception the KSSP was merely an organisation of

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SCIENCE FOR

science writers in Malayalam. The slogan ‘Science for Social Revolution’, as well as the programmatic understanding that has come to be associated with it, has gradually evolved through activities of a quarter of a century and experiences. The present paper is an attempt to document the above evolution rather than present a chronological narrative of the events in the Parishath’s history.

I
THE FORMATION : 1957 - 67
The genesis of the KSSP may be traced to the formation of a Science Literary Forum (Sasthra Sahithya Samithy) in 1957 by a group of concerned activists and science writers who had gathered in connection with a traditional arts festival at Ottappalam.1 Despite the best intentions, the pioneering attempt proved to be uneventful but for the publication of a book on “Modern Science” modeled after the Penguin Science News Series and an unsuccessful attempt to translate Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ into Malayalam.
In early 1962, a group of science writers in Calicut, quite oblivious of the existence of the Science Literary Forum, took the initiative to organise a Forum for Science Writers.2 They were able to win the co-operation of most of the leading science writers in the state, and finally, in September 1962, the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath (styled in English as ‘Science Writers Forum of Kerala’) was launched with a one-day science seminar and a five-day exhibition on science and science books. The new organisations could lay claim to around 30 members, all of whom were science writers. Occasional symposia and seminars, mostly organised in and around Calicut, constituted the main activity of the group for the next two years.
Meanwhile, in 1966, some of the Malayali scientists in Bombay had begun to actively consider the possibilities of producing science literature in Malayalam. Catalysts for the move were a few young scientists who had returned from Moscow after completing their studies. They were participants in an intense debate among the Indian students in Moscow regarding the social commitment of scientists and contribution that they could make towards the spread of scientific awareness among the people. They even drew up schemes for development of science literature in various regional languages.3 The contact between the Bombay scientists and the organisers of the KSSP led to the formation of the Sasthra Sahithya Parishath (Malayalam), Bombay in January 1966. Similar organisations were formed for other regional languages and they were sought to be coordinated though a “Federation of Indian Languages Science Association - FILSA”. SSP (Malayalam), Bombay was the most active among these groups, with regular monthly discussions on various science subjects in Malayalam. The group also produced four books in Malayalam for a publishing firm in Bombay.
The National Awakening
Production of science literature in their mother tongue was a common concern of all the three groups formed at Ottappalam, Calicut and Bombay. In one sense, they were all responding to the call of the new national awakening that had accompanied the struggle for independence, in Kerala. Development of feelings of national identity among the Malayalees, cutting across the political boundaries that divided the present day Kerala, gave rise to various people’s organisations such as trade unions and political parties on an all Kerala basis. The first and foremost among these organisations was the “All Kerala Literary Forum” (Samastha Kerala Sahithya Parishad) formed in 1927.However, science literature received only marginal attention from this organisation.
It must be pointed out that science literature in Malayalam was relatively better developed than in most of the other Indian regional languages.4 The most important contributory factor in this was the higher level of literacy in Kerala and the widespread network of schools. More importantly,

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