Write a note on the People’s Science Movement.

Four areas were identified for a future programme of action as the basis for initiating a PSM in the country. i) Health ii) Education iii) Environment iv) use of Arts as a medium of communication with the people.

Health: Questions were raised on the relevance and adequacy of the existing health delivery system and hence a people’s health movement should form a crucial component of a PSM. Despite expansion in health services, the actual distribution has an urban and curative bias.

That joint action on health problems specific to women should be taken up was generally felt as highly urgent. A campaign on anaemia in women is a major issue. Propaganda against the irrational anti-anaemic drugs, demand for better medical facilities during pregnancy, prophylactic measures against anaemia and the root cause of anaemia as poverty and the poor socio-economic condition were highlighted.

Education: The most burning issue in the field of education was the failure of the Government to implement UPE, which was closely linked to the need of Adult Education. It was decided to emphasise the need for activities aimed at increasing the involvement of teachers in popularising science as well as in discussing problems of education in general. The following activities were

suggested as being useful in further work:

  • a) Bringing out magazines for children to popularise science and literature as is done by groups like Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP)
  • b) Organising community science centers with a library, workshop, audiovisual facilities and mobile exhibitions.
  • c) Use of art and theatre forms as catalytists media for dissemination of PSM ideas.
  • d) Field study and surveys of the problems of education to base the initiative and understanding on more firm grounds

Environment: Environmental problems can only be understood as an aspect of the broader reality. A scientific analysis of the totality of the interconnections between seemingly unrelated issues is the only viable basis for effective action. The Forest Bill, which gives extensive powers to forest officials, encroaches on the right of the people such as tribals who depend on forests and facilitates the acceleration of the process of deforestation by commercial vested interests. The issue of the Forest Bill is a focal point for people science movements. Not only can it enable them to assist people’s struggles but it can enable the mobilisation of public opinion on a whole range of issues – social forestry, floods, wildlife, drought, etc.

Art: A great deal of discussion took place on using art as a medium of communication with the people. The Uttarakhand Sangharsh Vahini had been using art in its various struggles first against deforestation and similar issues but now embracing all aspects of the people’s struggles. Out of such struggles, songs, poems and plays evolved these sentiments.

Saroj Meher

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