Every scientist in the country is obliged to devote at least 10 days per year to ‘scientific social responsibility,’ and such voluntary individual activities, in addition to routine work, will be accorded due weightage in their yearly performance evaluation.
This clause is part of the science ministry’s SSR guidelines, which were released in the spirit of corporate social responsibility (CSR), with an aim to utilise the scientific community’s capabilities in attaining societal goals. “SSR aims to create an effective ecosystem for maximising the use of existing assets in order to empower the less endowed, marginalised, and exploited sections of society by enhancing their capability, capacity, and latent potential,” according to the 14-page guidelines released on National Technology Day.
The ministry has outlined 17 major actions that scientists might engage in as part of their SSR to bridge the gap between science and society, according to the guidelines. It would apply to scientists working in public and private knowledge organisations (laboratories, institutes, universities, colleges, and scientific institutions), as well as central ministries, state governments, their departments, and affiliated autonomous agencies.
Individual and institutional SSR initiatives would be suitably incentivised with required monetary support, according to the standards. A knowledge institution’s SSR operations and projects would not be allowed to be outsourced or subcontracted. SSR must be planned and strategized by all central government ministries and state governments in accordance with their respective duties.
Lectures by scientists in schools and colleges on modular or full courses or on a theme to inspire students to study science and pursue a career in science; mentoring of school students in their innovation projects; organising visits to planetariums, laboratories, science centres, and industries; skill development through training and workshops; and sharing of infrastructure and knowledge resources are just a few of the illustrative SSR activities listed.
Delivering scientific discussions on popular topics in easy language (through TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and social media) to raise scientific understanding and eliminate superstition among society is also included as an SSR activity in the standards.
The ministry also released the Scientific Research Infrastructure Sharing Maintenance and Networks (SRIMAN) guidelines on National Technology Day, which coincides with India becoming a full nuclear country following the nuclear explosion at Pokhran on May 11, 1998. The guidelines aim to promote efficient utilisation and wider access of Research Infrastructure (RI) to scientists, researchers, and industry professionals across the country by creating a network of relevant stakeholders.