‘Science for social revolution’: People’s Science Movements and democratizing science in India

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Venkateswaran T.V.


Often, new social movements engaged with science and society are characterised as contesting objectivity; the neutrality of modern science seeking to legitimise ‘lay perspectives’. It has been an article of faith among scholars to view third world movements as anti-science, anti-modernity and post-developmentalist. This commentary describes ideological framework, modes of action and organisation of the All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN), one of the People’s science movement (PSMs) active for more than the past four decades. They dispute the dominant development trajectory and science and technology-related policies for reinforcing the existing inequities. Nevertheless, they see ‘science’ as a powerful ally for realising their radical emancipatory vision of ‘science for social revolution’. Mobilising ‘science activists’ as unique alternate communicators, they strive for lay-expert collaboration. The canonical framing of third world social movements as postcolonial and anti-modern does not capture this unique case from India. Further studies are required to tease out such strands of social movements elsewhere.