8th All India People's science Congress
by our Science Correspondent
Peoples' Science Movement in the country was initiated with the idea of propagation of scientific temper among common people. 'Science for the people', 'Science awareness' were the focus of the movement. People witnessed the euphoric success of organised Peoples' Science Movement in 1986 through 'Bharat Jana Vigyan Jatha'. Since then a network of PSM organisations were formed as All India Peoples' Science Network.' Today AIPSN has 35 members organisations all the states. The movement, over the last decade, grew multifold and took up issues like literacy, peoples' health, elementary education, Samata - science awareness among women, technology transfer and group enterprise development, cosmic voyage, S&T policy issues, fight against obscurantism and fundamentalism etc. All India Peoples' Science Congress is being organised periodically, where delegates from all over the country join to evaluate the progress, discuss various science and technology related issues and decide upon the future task.
Nalanda in Bihar is a historical landmark of education and was the citadel of academic research during mediaeval period. Eight AIPSC was held just opposite to the relics of old Nalanda University during 9 - 13th November 98. Nearly 500 delegates from all over the country joined in this week long event. The Congress was organised jointly by AIPSN and Bharat Vigyan Samity, Bihar.
The formal inauguration of the Congress was followed by a session to discussion impacts of recent nuclear explosion of Pokhran and the Congress unanimously denounced the Government action and pledged for neither to submit to the external pressure in signing CTBT, nor to adopt such suicidal path of nuclear explosion in future.
AIPSC, in following 3 days (10-12th) deliberated on (a) Globalisation and third World (b) Effect of liberalisation in infra-structure planning - Power, Telecom, Oil etc. (c) Science Popularisation and Communication (d) Science and Secularism (e) Panchayet Raj Institution - an Indian experience (f) Technology upgradation and transfer (g) Education - elementary education (h) Post literacy movement and vocational education (I) Peoples' health (j) Gender and Science movement (k) Participatory approach in planning (l) Secondary production system - watershed development, joint forest management, bio-energy utilisation. One whole day discussion was dedicated to the topics - challenges of development in Bihar.
Shri Kanti Biswas, Education Minister of West Bengal, Shri Mahaboob Zahedi, Member if Parliament, Dr. Prabhat Pattanaik, Dr. Subimal Sen, Shri Sailapati Gupta, Shri Sankar Chakraborty, Shri S.P. Sukhla, Dr. M.P. Parameswaran, Dr. U. Trivedi and many other eminent personalities took part in the discussion.
It was felt that in the present context of our country, when planful efforts are being effected to nourish religious fundamentalism, it is the primary task for the scientific community to launch campaign on building science awareness. At the sametime, when the self-reliance and sovereignty of the country are being threatened by the forces of liberalisation, Peoples' Science Movement should take up the challenge to go to the people with critical review of this policy and the alternatives. The responsibility to fulfil the above objectives and the stupendous task of spreading both literacy movement and post-literacy programme, demand for strong network and organisational consolidation. The General council of the Congress discussed at length the organisation aspect where all member organisations assured of sharing greater responsibility. The new 21 member Executive Committee was elected with Dr. M.K. Prasad as President and Sri Sridip Bhattacharya as General Secretary. The Peoples' Science Movement in the country has to be consolidated, strengthened and flourished - this was the united call from Nalanda.
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