Science is an integral part of our day to day life. Scientific inventions made human life easy and sustainable. Approximately, eighty percent Indian population follows Sanatana dharma. Sanatana is known to be the most scientific dharma in the world, but in India popularization of science is still at its initial phase. No wonder, British used to call India “land of snake charmers.”  India is the second most populated country in the world, but our contribution in scientific innovations is very little. India is the third largest country in numbers of doctors and engineers but our societies still lacking basic knowledge of science. So, the popularization of science in India is need of the hour.

Western societies are very different from Indian societies in terms of relationship with science. Science is deeply penetrated into general societies in the western world; in terms of what they read, how they think, etc. Western people read a lot of science irrespective of their profession. In Indian societies, science is restricted to scientific communities, scientists, professors, and science students. The general public is not interested in knowing scientific phenomena and reading science.

In the west, a strong tradition of science popularization exists. They popularize science by demonstrating it among people and there is a long history of it. Galileo, the father of modern science, climbed to Leaning Tower of Pisa and from the top, he dropped two spheres of different weight; and observed both hits the ground simultaneously. He disapproved, Aristotle’s theory of gravity, which was one and a half millennia-old idea.  Another popular scientist, Faraday used to give lectures on the popularization of science at Royal society.  Although his research was focused on electrochemistry and magnetic induction.

In India, science is something that you study in schools and in universities as a subject, but the science should reach to doorsteps of every individual. People holding the last rank in exams should equally know about the basics of science.  In India, hardly any tradition of popularization of science in Indian languages in the recent past. Most Indians don’t know the chemical and nutritional composition of food they eat, the science behind their motorized vehicle, the principle behind refrigeration, reasons behind seasons, science behind solar and lunar eclipse and thousands such very simple facts of science. Young kids of metro cities in present time don’t even know how the food is being cultivated and what the process of milking is. Indians are constantly working over years towards popularizing epics, but scientific facts behind those things and events mentioned in those epics left behind.

The most important reason behind this is the unavailability of scientific knowledge in our own languages. In India, we have 23 official languages, because they are spoken by a considerable chunk of the population. The available content on the internet is huge. In English, it has 5.3 million articles. Apart from English, it has 3.73 million in Swedish, 2.04 million in German, 1.8 million In French, 1.3 million in Spanish and, 0.9 million articles in Mandarin. In Indians languages, the internet has only 0.11million articles in Hindi, 0.09 million in Tamil, 0.066 million in Telugu, 0.048 million in Bengali, and 0.046 million in Marathi. The presence of articles in our languages is nowhere as compared to world languages.

The same is the condition of libraries and books available in them. The largest library of the world is the library of congress in the US which has more than 162 million books and journals.  The second-largest is the British Library in London, UK which has more than 150 million books and journals. It is claimed that the British Library has each and every book of English that ever published in the UK. The largest library in India is the National Library of India, Kolkata; it has only 2.2 million books and journals. Isn’t it very sad and worrisome that, India being the oldest civilization, Vedas being one of the oldest texts, but still we don’t have enough libraries and enough books?

Western countries also have books describing the journey of great scientists like Newton. Even an American, Robert Kanigel has written a very fascinating book on Srinivasa Ramanujan’s life entitles “The man who knew infinity.” For writing, that book he visited India, stayed in Chennai to know about Ramanujan and he wrote a masterpiece. Science fiction novels for children are also available in the West.  In Indian schools and Universities, either nothing is being taught about our great scientists or very superficial information only being given.

Literacy rate of most western countries in more than 90%. Few countries like Russia, Poland, and Georgia claim a 100% literacy rate. In India the average literacy rate is 75% as per 2016 data, it’s still lags behind the world average which is 84%.

Another reason is the cinema. Yes, cinema plays a very significant role in motivating people towards things. Hollywood is known to produce complex and expensive science fiction movies. October sky, Contact, Awakenings, gravity, interstellar, journey to the center of the earth, and contagions are some examples of such movies. These movies inspire young kids to know more about science and explore the unexplored. Ironically, in Bollywood, Krish 3, robot and Mr. India considered science fiction movies. So, neither literature and scientific article nor cinematic masterpieces are available for Indians in their language to get motivated towards science.

In the 12th and 13th century group of scholars translated Arabic literature in Latin and Spanish. Almost all of our Sanskrit scriptures already translated into English, German, French, Mandarin and several other languages. Years later these translations became the bedrock of modern scientific revolution and cultural revival in Europe. At present, all European countries have Sanskrit universities. They also started compulsory courses of learning Arabic languages.

In India, people are very self-absorbed; they either study English or their mother tongue. The education system of India also not provides enough opportunities to learn several languages. Though, the onset of globalization leads to the availability of more knowledge and a new mindset. Now, creation of knowledge-literature in Indian languages will empower India and might lead to progress unprecedented in human history.

The popularization of science in India requires huge efforts and policy change. Great scientist and former President of India, Dr. APJ Kalam, gave a vision of Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas in his book “Target 3 billion”. Urban amenities mean highways, modern sewage systems, etc. and providing all these to every Indian village is an expensive affair. This vision can be modified to the creation of local language knowledge resources to empower rural areas.

Prof. V. Srinivasa Chakravorthy, IIT Madras, started his project of the popularization of science in Indian languages. He already translated several books in the Tamil language. Several people are working with him and translating books in many Indian languages.

The renaissance of Indian culture and Vedic knowledge is long-awaited. Translation of millions of English and other language books of science needs to be done in a short span of time. Human Resource Development ministry should work with NCERT and UGC to do this.  New science articles should be written in Indian languages also. Multilingualism should be promoted, but proficiency in local languages should be prioritized. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi also mentioned, Indians should learn one more language of India apart from English and their mother tongue. We should publish more and more articles on the internet in our local languages. Our knowledge and literature should be equilibrated with content in English. Online knowledge sources should be improved.

In schools, science should be taught as life skills, not as a subject. Science lessons should not be taught in classrooms; instead, science should be taught in laboratories, farms, factories, local societies, and natural spaces, etc. Universities like IITs, Central universities, and deemed universities should take the lead. Each professor and student of science should contribute a fixed time of their tenure in educating rural people about science. Science lecture tours should be organized. Animations and models should be used in schools to explain science effectively. Along with this, puppetry, dance, and skit should be used as innovative methods to popularize science.  

The popularization of the science is the responsibility of the current generation. This need to be done at any cost, otherwise in future India will be a country of the largest population of ignorants.

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