PONDICHERRY SCIENCE FORUM (PSF), was founded in 1985 by a number of professionals, teachers and other interested persons from many walks of life with the primary objective of Science Popularization. It has since evolved into a Peoples’ Science Movement with a clear mandate of shaping Science & Technology and ensuring its utilization to benefit the weaker sections of society. The PSF contributes to this goal by questioning power relationships embedded in science and technology and in the institutional structures that generate and put to use such knowledge. The PSF also contributes to this goal by contributing to the processes of building empowered and democratized institutional structures that help people to participate and make informed choices regarding the development and use of science and technology.
The PSF’s work is organized into three wings – Development, Science Communication and Women’s Empowerment and to carry these tasks out effectively it has build two more institutional structures – the Centre for Ecology & Rural Development (CERD) and the Samam Makalir Suyasarbu Iyakkam (Samam), both have considerable autonomy in their governance and in their functioning.
The PSF had initiated its work with extensive science communication and science education programmes and policy advocacy and intervention in S&T related areas. The initial communication programmes included Slide Show Lectures on science and society themes, teacher training on science education, publication of science books and a children’s science periodical, children’s science festivals, and kalajathas ( a Mobile Street Theatre Programmes) . Major areas of policy intervention were on rational drug use and drug policy, health policies, the promotion of a scientific temper, the need for a literacy campaign , the movement for nuclear disarmament etc. In recognition of this work the PSF was awarded the National Award for Best Organization working for Science Popularization in 1992.
PSF was also one of the founding member organisations of the All India Peoples’ Science Network (AIPSN) in 1987 and of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi (BGVS) in 1990 and contributed to their development through meaningful and replicable pioneering interventions and the contribution of its resource persons in the areas of Health, Literacy, Education, Science Communication and Agriculture..
In 1989, PSF initiated and supported the Directorate of Education, Government of Pondicherry in launching the Total Literacy Programme called “ARIVOLI IYAKKAM” which later bagged the prestigious UNESCO’s King Sejong International Award for the best Literacy Programme in 1992- for its content, delivery and concept.
Currently PSF is one of the recognized Core Support Groups under the Science & Society Division of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. All the development initiatives undertaken by PSF are carried out under a specific R&D centre called “Centre for Ecology & Rural Development” (CERD) jointly promoted by PSF and its sister organisation Tamil Nadu Science Forum. CERD works in the areas of Natural Resource Management, Health and Sanitation, Micro Enterprises and Technology Development for weaker sections with specific focus on women, and the use of Information Technology for rural development.
Currently PSF members work to help support a network of over 80 tank users associations which reach out to over 30,000 rural households, another network of 250 self help groups which reaches out to 5000 families and a network of continuing education and supplementary school education centers that reaches out to the children of weaker sections , largely first generation learners.
PSF is administered by an executive committee which is elected for a two year term by a representative general body of its over 2000 strong membership.