Dr. R. D. Sharma, President, ISWA

  1. The First National Convention of Science Communicators : It was organized by ISWA during 12-13 February, 1993, at the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi. Four Sessions were held: (i) Science in Electronic Media; (ii) Science in Print Media; (iii) Science in Parliament; and (iv) Resources Development in Science and Communication. The convention made the following recommendations: We, the science communicators, express our anguish and alarm at violence and religious fanaticism spreading in our country and reaffirm our faith in the democratic-secular constitution based on scientific principles of universal justice and equality for all- irrespective of sex, caste, colour and creed. In order to combat blind-faith and bigotry, popularization of scientific knowledge through science communication is necessary. We therefore recommend :
    1. That scientific knowledge and technological information must be made accessible to the science communicators for dissemination to the people of India. “Science Education” be made a “Science Mission” in the 8th Plan, and private industrial sector should be asked to take up the task of “Popularization of Science”.
    2. In order to overcome lack of scientific awareness among public, and communication skills among professionals, short term and long term science communication courses should be encouraged. “Science Communication” course (paper) should be made an integral to science degrees in colleges and universities.
    3. Greater coverage of science and technology news and reporting is necessary if the citizens are to think critically about science policy and public policy issues and participate in the S&T public policy issues and decision making process. But, politics has become an obsession with the national press. In contrast, news and studies about scientific research, lectures and seminars on important S&T subjects receive little attention of our national press. As a part of National Science Communication Policy, it is suggested, our Parliament and the print media may consider devoting at least fifteen per cent of its time and the space to problems and issues, news and events of S&T ministries and departments and on related topics of science and technology. We recommend formulation of National Science Communication Policy.
  2. Second National Convention of ISWA on Science and Technology in Post-GATT India : It was organized during 29-30 April,1994 at Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi. Important issues on development taking place after signing of GATT agreement by India, were discussed.
  3. Third National Convention of ISWA on What is Wrong with Indian Science : It was organized at Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi during 18-19, February 1995. The Convention was devoted for discussion on what is wrong with Indian science, in general. A special session was also devoted to the problems such as harassment and victimization of scientists.
  4. ISWA-DAE Workshop for Science Journalists : In April 1999, 10 science writers from ISWA got the opportunity to visit some of the important facilities of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in Mumbai. On request from ISWA, the DAE organized a five-day workshop for science journalists during April 11-16, 1999 at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai.
  5. National Seminar on Challenges in Public Appreciation of Science in Digital Age : It was organized by ISWA at Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, during June 16-17, 2000, with a view to discuss and address the problems and issues emerging due to the advent of new digital technology and changing scenario of people’s perspective about science and technology. Prof. Yash Pal, a well-known scientist and science communicator inaugurated the seminar. He said that IT is not going to create knowledge creators, but definitely, it will create knowledge workers, who will handle knowledge. He said that Albert Einstein and Bill Gates could not be placed in the same category. He also warned that it is unfair to give computers to the children below 5 years, as it not only affects their binocular vision but also overall mental development. Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, Director General, CSIR, has emphasized the need of Indian contents on the Internet, while delivering the keynote address. He underlined the need for authors in Indian languages, who can eventually contribute to enhance Indian science contents on the Internet. The seminar was well attended by a number of science writers/journalists, media persons, scientists and academicians, etc.
  6. The First Ever National Science Communication Congress : The ISWA has organized the first ever National Science Communication Congress (NSCC-2001) in association with the National Council for Science & Technology Communication, during November 28-29, 2001 at Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh). Science and technology communication is an emerging area of scientific knowledge and expertise. It is fast gathering momentum in every sphere of human activity. Science and technology communication has a great potential for changing our society into a nation of scientifically aware and scientifically thinking people. NSCC was an initiative towards harnessing the above potential to serve the mankind better. The major objectives of NSCC, among others, included the following :
    1. To have discussion and interaction on various issues and aspects concerning science and technology communication.
    2. To bring science communicators, scientists, journalists, academicians and other interested people together for the common cause of development of science and technology communication.
    3. To offer budding science communicators a wider exposure and enable them to express their views and ideas.
    4. To address various issues vital to promotion of science and technology communication.
    5. To explore and share newer tools, ways, and means for better science and technology communication aimed at various target audiences.
    6. To provide a forum for researchers and practitioners of science communication to discuss their views and findings to accelerate the pace of science and technology communication in the country.The Congress was divided into five technical sessions, i.e. (i) print media and science communication; (ii) audio-visual media and science communication; (iii) traditional/ folk media and science communication; (iv) interactive and digital media and science communication; and (v) science communication policy. Some 30 papers were presented on various aspects of science communication through various mass media. The participants to this congress included members of ISWA, students and teachers of science communication courses, scientists, journalists and renowned media persons. 30 papers were presented. The best paper award was given to Dr. Changanty Krishna Kumari, a science writer from Kothagudem (Andhra Pradesh). For the first time ISWA organized its annual seminar outside Delhi. ISWA Uttar Pradesh Chapter, Lucknow, hosted the NSCC-2001.
  7. National Exhibitions of Popular Science Periodicals in Indian Languages : An exhibition of Popular Science Periodicals in Indian Languages was organized on the occasion of the ISWA seminar at INSA, New Delhi during June 16-17, 2000. Various science magazines, periodicals, and newspapers, etc. in different Indian languages were displayed. The National Institute of Science Communication had also displayed its various publications. A similar exhibition with more entries was also organized on the occasion of NSCC-2001 at Lucknow during November 28-29, 2001. Some 200 popular science magazines/ publications in various Indian languages were on display. The exhibition was well appreciated by science writers from various language regions of the country. Students of Science Communication Course from Lucknow University also displayed newsletters, reports and magazines, etc. brought out by them.
  8. Regional Chapters : With a view to further strengthen and widen the horizon of its activities, ISWA has decided to form/ create its Chapters at various places in the country. This would also help enhance science writing/ reporting at grassroot level. To begin with, there should be at least 7 life members of ISWA, who can form a Local Executive Committee, comprising, President, Secretary, Treasurer and 4 Members of the Executive Committee. The life membership fee of all the members would be sent to the Central ISWA. The annual membership fee collected at the ISWA Chapter will be kept with the Chapter for its activities. The Chapters would abide by the rules and regulations of ISWA and would work towards the advancement of science writing/ journalism/ communication profession. We have been able to initiate ISWA Chapters at a few places. Many more are coming up. ISWA Chapters are undertaking various kinds of activities, like training in science writing and science journalism involving students, teachers, journalists and scientists and developing linkages with local/regional media. Training programmes are also organized from time to time to enabling our members to fine-tune their science writing and reporting skills.
  9. Press Identity Cards : Press identity cards have been issued to the ISWA members, who have requested and paid the prescribed fee for the purpose. This may enable them to access the information from various sources, like laboratories, institutions and scientists, etc. for science writing/ reporting.
  10. Meet the Scientist/ Media : ISWA organizes meetings with renowned scientists/ technologists and media persons from time to time, especially when some new issue concerning science and technology emerges.
  11. ISWA Features : With support from IDRC, Canada, ISWA had brought out a fortnightly feature service in Hindi, namely ISWA Features on current scientific and technological developments and policy issues during 1990-1992 to cater to the Hindi press.
  12. ISWA Fellowship : ISWA confers its Honorary Fellowship on a distinguished person, who is not an ISWA member and has made significant contribution towards the advancement of science communication profession in the country. ISWA Fellowships are given away every year on the occasion of ISWA national seminar. Each fellowship carries a citation and a medal. So far, 17 distinguished science communicators have been honoured with ISWA Fellowships.
  13. ISWA National Award for Science Writing/ Communication : ISWA confers this award on an outstanding young science communicator from among ISWA members, for significant contribution towards science popularization during last 5 calendar years. ISWA Award is given away every year on the occasion of ISWA national seminar. The Award carries a certificate, a medal and a cash prize (in case of availability). Some time the Award is shared by more than one individual. So far, following young science communicators have been honoured with ISWA National Awards :
    1. Mr. Binay K. Pattanayaka, Phulbani, Orrisa.
    2. Mr. Nimish Kapoor, Programme Incharge, Enadu TV, Lucknow.
    3. Mr. Hasan Javed Khan, Editor, Science Reporter, New Delhi.
    4. Mr. Vinod Varshney, Special Correspondent, Hindustan, New Delhi

    Following awards were also given by ISWA from time to time :

    1. ISWA-Chemline Award for Science Writing on Indian Themes : Dr. N.C. Jain, ICMR, New Delhi, 1994.
    2. ISWA-C.B. Sharma Memorial Award for Science Popularization : Mr. Harish Agarwal, Former News Editor, Nav Bharat Times, New Delhi, 1995.
    3. ISWA-C.B. Sharma Memorial Award for Science Popularization : Mr. B.S. Padmanabhan, Science Writer, New Delhi, 2000.
  14. ISWA Newsletter : The premier issue of the ISWA Newsletter was brought out in July 1985 (Editor P.S. Shankar). For the first time, all the six issues of the bimonthly ISWA Newsletter were brought out regularly in 1992 (Editors: Dr. K. Satyanarayana & Dr. N.C. Jain). It could not sustain due to lack of resources.
  15. ISWA Communications : It has been a general feeling, that we must have a regular channel of communication with our members spread all over the country. At the same time, it has also been observed that publication of ISWA Newsletter requires a lot of efforts and resources, that presently ISWA cannot afford. Therefor, an occasional newsletter titled ISWA Communications has been started, which involves comparatively less efforts and resources. The response of this effort has been encouraging.
  16. Millennium Lecture Series : The ISWA has introduced a Millennium Lecture Series. A number of lectures have been organized so far on various frontline areas of science and technology.
  17. Linkages/ Collaborations : ISWA has developed linkages with various government and non government organizations and works with them in collaboration and undertakes various projects aimed at achieving its broad objectives. Visits of ISWA members for reporting on various scientific establishments/ laboratories are planned.
  18. International Affiliation : ISWA is affiliated to the European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, as an Associate Member.
  19. ISWA Directory/ Handbook : ISWA brings out a directory containing names and addresses of its members, including phone/ fax numbers and e-mails, from time to time to facilitate interaction among members. The directory is also made available to various newspaper groups, media organizations, radio/ TV centres, scientific establishments, government scientific departments, NGOs/ individuals interested in science communication. For the first time, ISWA Handbook has been brought out in 2002, which gives information on various aspects of ISWA.
  20. Website : Recently, ISWA has launched its own website, accessible on the Internet at : www.iswaindia.com