India Science Report

January 22, 2007

I am going through the archives of a recently found site – Sci.Dev.Net which deals with Science and technology in developing world. In particular, an old news item titled Indian science teaching ‘needs overhaul’ talks about the Indian Science Report.

I found the the original report to be quite interesting. It is filled with a lot of statistics about various questions I’ve wondered about. Case in the point – What percentage of Indians know that Earth moves around the sun ? (70 percent of respondents, it seems. See page 69- Table 4.6 of the above report) and 56 percent agreed with the statement that “Human beings developed from an earlier species of animals” . 42 percent seem to believe that “Scientists are peculiar”(Page 72 – Table 4.9). I wonder in what sense ? 😉

You can see the Urban/Rural Male/Female breakups of percentages in the appendices . Before I close this post, I should give a statutory warning – rather, I will just reproduce the last part of the News article linked above

The report has drawn criticism from some analysts, who say the sampling methods were inadequate and that the results were compared with data obtained using different techniques.

“As a scientist I agree that it would have been better to compare data using the same sampling methodology over, say, three years,” Raghunath Mashelkar, director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and current president of INSA, conceded at a press briefing on the occasion of the report’s release.

“They should have had a more rigorous survey methodology,” agrees N. Raghuram, a biotechnology lecturer at Delhi’s Indraprastha University.

“There has been no data about the actual number of science students in schools, teachers, and student-teacher ratio. Even the conclusions on public attitudes towards science are based on a small sub-sample of 30,000 which is not representative enough.”

NCAER project leader Rajesh Shukla, and other scientists have in the past pointed out India does not have a systematic and comprehensive assessment of its science and technology education and industry (see A tale of two databases: India’s R&D dilemma).


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