The programme will aim at sharing the best practices and habits for good health and hygiene and promoting scientific temperament among the masses through community participation at the grassroots.
The National Council for Science and Technology has decided to observe 2020-2021 as the ‘Year of awareness on science and health’ (YASH).
Since the outbreak, there has been significant emphasis on personal hygiene, need for washing hands with soap, maintaining physical distancing, curbs on open spitting among many other preventive measures. However, with many of these being “uncommon” practices for an average Indian, activities under YASH target minimising health risks at all levels with public communication and outreach.
The programme will be a platform to promote public understanding of common minimum science for community care and health safety measures, which include some of these common habits.
The programme also aims at inculcating scientific temper for adopting sustainable lifestyle, nurturing scientific culture among people.
Having actively voiced concerns about the need to develop scientific temperament through ‘March for Science’, Soumitro Banerjee from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata, welcomed the government’s initiative.
“It is a good move and the government must reach out to all people,” said Banerjee, who suggested that these practices should be included in school curricula.
India being an extremely large country, where people are living with varied religious beliefs, local sensitivities and traditions are challenges for public communication. However, this is where outreach under YASH plans to play a vital role keeping intact all diversities yet working closely with the communities for greater awareness. This programme plans to rope in community leaders, NGOs, scientists, healthcare professionals and the media.
Aniket Sule, scientist from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, said such programmes must continue even after the impact of COVID-19 reduces.
“In India, public figures make more impact on people rather than scientists or health professionals. But such efforts must not be limited to a certain time period,” he said.
The programme will use risk communication in the form of software and audio-visuals, besides folk and traditional performances, as means of communication in different regional languages. The outreach will comprise exhibitions, competitions, melas, jathas and similar activities to connect with the masses.