Society’s deep impact on science, technology and innovation in India

Pankaj Sekhsaria

How does a lab create pioneering instruments in spite of resource constraints? How does a doctor-researcher engage with society that will let their girl child die because she might not be married in the future? What conversations might a modern nanoscientist have with a practitioner of ancient Ayurveda? What will be the fate of a nano-silver-enabled water filter that promises to be low cost, easy to use and effective? Received wisdom tells us that scientific research and technological innovation brings drastic, even disruptive change and society has no option but to constantly adapt and to evolve in response. This is such a truism that we have stopped thinking it can be otherwise. But ‘otherwise’ is indeed true. Society does deeply influence science and technology even if it is New Age. Based on six years’ research across five laboratories and three cities, Nanoscale shows us how and why as it provides an incisive, yet deeply empathetic account of scientific life, laboratory research and technological innovation at the cutting-edge of nanoscience and technology in India. About the Author Pankaj Sekhsaria is Associate Professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA) and Associate Faculty, Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), IIT-Bombay, with research interests that lie at the intersection of technology, society, science and the environment. He has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Maastricht University, the Netherlands, where he worked on the ‘Cultures of Innovation’ in nanoscience and technology research in India.

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Pankaj Sekhsaria

Pankaj Sekhsaria is a member of the environmental action group, Kalpavriksh where he works on issues of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and also edits the bi-monthly newsletter, the Protected Area Update. He is a freelance journalist, photographer and author, most recently, of 'Islands in flux - the Andaman and Nicobar Story' (HarperCollins India 2017) and 'The Last Wave – an island novel' (HarperCollins India 2014). He has authored/edited three other, non-fiction books, two of which are based in the A&N Islands He graduated as a mechanical engineer from the Pune University in 1993 and followed this with a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication from the Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, in 1998. He was awarded a doctorate in 2016 in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Maastricht University, Netherlands, for his thesis ‘Enculturing Innovation – Indian engagements with nanotechnology’. The thesis investigates scientific research and innovation practices in five nanotechnology laboratories in India and explores the societal and cultural influences on research and on innovation inside the laboratory. He is currently Senior Project Scientist, DST-Centre for Policy Research, Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT-Delhi