The All India People’s Science Congress (AIPSC ) is a biennial conference that communicates scientific and technological developments and policy related issues in India to a concerned audience. The AIPSC was set up in 1987, and is a meeting point for activists and science forum representatives from different states across the country. The 15th AIPSC is being held in Bangalore (Jnana Jyoti Auditorium, Central College campus) between 22nd-25th May 2015, co-organised by the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), Karnataka and Karnataka Rajya Vijnana Parishat (KRVP).
The All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN), the organising body of the AIPSC, is an umbrella organisation comprising of approximately 42 science forums across the country that are committed to the promotion of science and public participation in science and technology (S&T) issues. “Across the country, several science movements and forums do similar things, but in different ways, and the AIPSC is a forum for us to come together to share experiences and discuss current areas of concern in S&T policy and developments”, says D Raghunandan, a member of the Delhi Science Forum, and President of the AIPSN. “The people’s science movement in India, with so many organisations, addresses issues ranging from literacy movements to pedagogy, public health, water, social exclusion, gender justice, and energy, to name a few. This heterogeneity makes the movement unique to our country”, say Subhankar Chakraborty, a conference organiser from BGVS.
Unlike other science conferences, the AIPSC is not about networking scientists with each other, but connects people, activists, policy makers and scientists. The theme for AIPSC 2015 is ‘Science for social change’with two focal areas—self-reliant pathways to development and scientific temper in the nation.
After two months of pre-conference workshops organised in various academic institutions, the conference kicks off on 22 May 2015 with an opening session attended by several dignitaries, including the Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari, Governor Vajubhai Vala and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of Karnataka, and senior scientists CNR Rao and UR Rao. Invited academics over the four days include Satyajit Mayor (NCBS) who will talk about the role of research and scientific institutions, MRN Murthy (IISc), who will discuss effective science communication, and Rajan Gurukkal (IISc) on science in pre-colonial India, among others.
Science developments and policy issues will be explained by experts mainly through workshops. On 23rd May, 12 workshops will cover relatively new issues for India—policy for smart cities, policy for urban renewal, Make in India, dilution of environmental regulations through TSR Subramaniam committee report, India’s contribution for the Paris Climate Summit, and other education and health issues.
On 24th May, the focus of the workshops is the exchange of experiences in science-related spheres over the past two years and planning for the coming years. Topics include education, science communication and popularisation, gender and social justice, etc. While much of the AIPSC caters to the representatives of the science forums being represented, several public sessions are planned—20 years of the World Trade Organisation (22nd May), autonomy and democratization in S&T institutes in India (May 23), anti-superstition legislations(May 24). Also planned are an exhibition of several artists and theatre performances from across the country.
“We expect about 500 chosen delegates to attend, a representation of the 600,000 members in all the 42 science forums together, plus a variety of friendly organisations and resources persons. These hundred delegates from the AIPSN
’s different constituent organizations will collectively review the progress and set goals for the next few years” says Raghunandan.