Indian Science in the Media

Written by  //  April 19, 2011  //  Science & Technology  //  42 Comments

Just a few days ago I finished a book that was supposed to show ‘how Indian science is taking over the world’. I was hoping that the book will be full of fascinating and thought-provoking scientific discoveries and inventions. Instead many pages were spent exploring irrational beliefs that are wide-spread in India. I was disheartened, of course.

This is not to say that the book should not have picked up on these important beliefs but the (misleading) subtitle led me to think that may be Indian science had really taken the strides to leave the discussion of astrology and homeopathy to only a few pages of a book on science. What was I thinking!?

Indian Science?

Here’s a reality check: I searched for ‘science’ on the Times of India website (It’s built such that I can’t even give you a hyperlink to the results of my search. Sorry!). In the first five pages of results there was not a single news article about a discovery or invention. Instead, I found psuedoscientific terms like astrology and spirituality in many of those results (even one where the Bombay HC ruled: Astrology is a Science, but we’ll get to that some other time).

Same with the Hindustan Times. I searched for ‘science’ (fortunately, this time I can give you a link to the search results here.)  No Indian science being referred to till the 19th result (which says lab at Kalina to test bulletproof jackets) and then there is silence on this topic for many pages of results ahead. Psuedoscience seems to have been kept under tighter lids here (and the HT even published a critical review of that book I was talking about!).

Even the Hindu, whose science coverage is the most respectable amongst all Indian newspaper, did not have more than a couple of stories  about Indian science (see link).

The only place I know where you can go to read about recent research findings from India is the Nature India website. Unfortunately, their articles are not written for a general audience. There is Current Science which is, again, not written for the public although some of the articles can easily be published for a wider audience.

There aren’t many Indian science magazines either. Scientific American India started in August 2005 and stopped in June 2007. Down to Earth is probably the only regular magazine which has survived a significant number of years, and despite what it claims in its about section I haven’t met any Indian who knew about its existence.  The most recent entry is Brainwave which is magazine for school children.

Either there is very little science of value being done in India or the media is just not interested in publishing science. What is surprising though is that when an NRI writes a book with a misleading title about Indian science, it gets rave reviews.

About the Author

Akshat is working towards a DPhil in organic chemistry at the University of Oxford. He is on a mission to better understand the impact of science on the society and in the process communicate science to influence public opinion. He blogs about science on The Allotrope and about everything else at Contemplation."

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42 Comments on "Indian Science in the Media"

  1. Vipul April 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm ·

    On a perhaps related note, a discussion on Ayurveda by students from India’s leading science and mathematics institutes:

    https://profiles.google.com/anirbit.mukherjee/posts/4NDySFhTEM1

  2. Hasan Jawaid Khan June 8, 2011 at 4:56 am ·

    Akshat, perhaps you have not come across the monthly science magazine called Science Reporter, which is published by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research. It has been around since 1964. Please check the website http://www.niscair.res.in.

  3. Virat Markandeya May 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm ·

    Akshat, came to the site through the SA Incubator blog. SciAm India was being published till January 2011, not June 2007. I was involved in bringing out the edition, scouring for content and writing News Scan pieces before it closed. Last I heard, they were in talks to get another syndication partner. I have some ideas on what needs to work for science mags in India. In case you’re interested in a discussion — I am– drop me a line at virat.markandeya@gmail.com.

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  1. Indian Public’s Attitude to Science? | Critical Twenties
  2. An attempt at setting the information balance right | Akshat Rathi

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