Under the guidance of DST, Vigyan Prasar recently launched India Science, an Internet-based science channel, to showcase the recent developments in science and technology from Indian labs and institutions. In May-June, the AWSAR programme was announced to encourage PhD scholars and post-doctoral fellows to write articles and reward the best articles with prize money. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, talks of other plans to encourage science communication.
Vigyan Prasar, under the active guidance of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) recently launched India Science, an Internet-based 24×7 science channel, to showcase the “recent developments in science and technology particularly from scientific research institutions and laboratories” based in India and to create scientific awareness among people. It will also cover the latest S&T developments from across the world.
“The intent is to make science done in India accessible to a larger audience. All you need is an Internet connection to access the content using a smart phone or computer. [It will soon be available as a mobile App.] It will have live content every day and a library of theme-based programmes related to science and technology,” says Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST. “We are now asking feedback from people to improve the channel.”
“This is one more way to reach out to a larger audience. It will cater not just to scientists but anyone who is interested in science,” says Prof. Sharma. “The India Science channel will provide a platform for our scientific institutions to communicate what is happening in their labs.”
According to Prof. Sharma, the initiative will only complement and not compete with traditional science journalism as practised by the media houses.
The India Science channel will be a bilingual channel in Hindi and English and will have schedule programming as well as video-on-demand (VOD) facility. The India Science channel will cover the “entire landscape of science & technology including engineering, health and medicine, natural science, environment and wildlife, agriculture among others. It will have documentaries, discussion, demonstrations/experiment shows, quizzes and game shows.
The AWSAR programme
The India Science channel follows an initiative by DST in May-June when it announced the Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) programme to encourage and equip PhD scholars and post-doctoral fellows with skills to communicate science with lay people. The articles can either be submitted to DST directly or published in newspapers, magazine or even blogs.
The AWSAR carries monetary incentives for best written articles. The best 100 articles by PhD scholars will get Rs.10,000 each along with a certificate of appreciation besides getting the story published/projected in mass media. The best three entries will be rewarded Rs.1,00,000, Rs.50,000 and Rs.25,000 respectively. Similarly, 20 best articles from post-doctoral fellow will get Rs.10,000 each and one outstanding entry will be rewarded Rs.1,00,000.
In early June, Dr. Rashmi Sharma, scientist at DST and in-charge of the AWSAR programme told me that DST is planning to reward the first batch of winners on February 28, 2019, the National Science Day.
The DST is also planning a slew of other initiatives to improve science communication. “We will soon have science programmes on DD National and in a year or two we want to start a 24-hour science channel that will have mix of news and other programmes,” says Prof. Sharma. “The internet science channel is laying the ground for the TV-based science channel.”