Science writing in Hindi appears to have began in 1818 (Patariya, 2000) with the publication of a magazine named “Hindi Digdarshan,” copies of which were circulated to many schools in West Bengal. ‘Digdarshan’ regularly incorporated materials on science, a trend that was not in vogue at that time even in contemporary reputed Hindi publication ‘Udant martand’ (1928) credited to be the first Hindi newspaper. Patairiya (2000) further narrates that a questionnaire related to chemistry way published in Hindi, named, “Rasayan Prakash Prashnottar’ in 1847 by Agra School Book Society.
The trend was followed with subsequent publications of ‘Saral Vigyan Vitap’ (1860), Sulabh Beej ganit” (1875) and ‘Gati Vigyan’ (1885) from various academic institutions. Efforts were also made to translate notable works of English scientific publications into Hindi language during that period. The Beginning Science writer Shiv Gopal Mishra (2001) considers the period of 1840-1914 as the ‘Emergence period of Hindi science writing.
This early beginning was followed by a prolonged period of Hindi science writing characterized by the sporadic writings and publications of Hindi science articles in different publications by many science enthusiasts and writers like Pandit Sudhkar Dwivedi , Pandit Laxmi Shankar Dwivedi, Pandit Laxmi Shankar Mishra and Shri Mahesh Charan Sinha. Such prolonged period of Hindi science writing in fact paved the way for establishment of some full fledged organizations devoted solely to science writing, prominent among them being “Vigyan Parishad Prayag’ established on 10 March 1913.
The 100th anniversary celebrations of this august body devoted to science writing began on the 13th March 2012 and were inaugurated by our esteemed Ex. President A P J Abdul Kalam. Vigyan Parishat initiated the publication of a monthly magazine ‘Vigyan’ in 1915 which is being ceaselessly published since then. The magazine Vigyan has attracted the attention of so many budding young science writers and provided them a suitable platform where they could get their articles published easily.
Many today’s well know Hindi Science writers have had written once for Vigyan routinely or intermittently. The proliferation The period of 1950-1970 has been marked as a ‘phase of proliferation’ of Hindi science writing as ample amount of literature related to many newer branches of science started appearing in various publications. Prominent science writers of this paned were Dr. Satya Prakash, Professor Phuldev Sahay Verma, Dr. Nand Lal Singh, Shri R. D. Vidyarthi, Dr. Om Prakash Sharma etc.
Yet another period which witnessed the setting up of ‘Paribhashic Shabdavali Aayog’ (The commission for scientific and technical terminology) commenced in 1950 and also witnessed establishment of many Hindi academies, appearances of many eminent science writers, translators like Suresh Singh, Ramesh Bedi, Dr. D. S. Kothari, Dr. Gorakh Prasad, Dr. Satya Prakash, Dr. Atmaram, Dr. Ram Charan Mehrotra, Shri Shyam Narayan Kapur, Shri Jagpati Chaturvedi . These writers contributed immensely to the enrichment of Hindi Science writing. Dr.
Shiv Gopal Mishra (2002) has termed this period (1950-1970) as ‘Sarvottham Kal’ i,e. prospering period of Hindi Science writing. Many other writers of prominence were Shri Ramesh Datt Sharma, Shri Vishnudatt Sharma, Harish Agrawal, Gunakar Mule, Premanand Chandela, Kailash Shah etc. Modern phase Critics tend to agree that modern phase of science writing in Hindi began around 1970’s with the publication of good quality science books for academic institutions. Translation work also got new impetus during this work mostly with the help of university professors.
Profuse scientific literature of many emerging disciplines of science came to fore which included environmental imbalance, information technology etc. Many present day science writers shaped their career or hobby of writing science in their mother tongue i,e. Hindi during early 70’s or 80’s ,prominent among them being Premanand Chandola, Schukdev Prasad, Devendra Mewati, Braj mohan Gupta, Manoj Patariya , Vinita Singhal, Arvind Mishra, Jagdip Saxena, Vijay Kumar Shrivastava, Ranbir Singh etc.
During 1980’s science fiction writing also got an impetus with the efforts made by Indian Association of Science Fiction Writing (IASFS) which promoted works of science fiction writers like Zakir Ali ‘Rajnish’, Zeashan Haidar Zaidy, Kalpana Kulshrestna, Bushra Alwera, Dr. Arvind Dubey, Manish Mohan Gore, Arvind Dubey etc. Many renowned science writers also got inclined towards science fiction writing like Shukdev Prasad, Devendra Mewadi, Arvind Mishra, Rajiva Ranjan Prasad etc. whose works now form the corner stone of science fiction writing in Hindi.
The Terminology A widespread misunderstanding still persists among many science writers about terminology, forms and categorization of different subgenres of science writing. With the passage of time science writing has genuinely diversified itself into many sub genres in Hindi language too. For example popular science writing has now completely established itself as a conspicuous and distinguished subgenre of science writing but still today it is often mistakenly referred to as science writing only.
It is indeed science writing but a very special form of science writing which aims to have a direct rapport with common people. As a matter of fact science writing in general is a kind of very specific form of writing and is practiced and understood by a very limited audience i. e. by scientists only. With passage of time, it has got so specialized that even two of its practitioners cannot understand the writings of their ‘specific’ subjects. On other hand popular science writers make their writings very lucid and easily understandable by even a common man.
So in our humble opinion popular science writing should never be designated as merely ‘science writing’ but science writing of a very distinguished form and must always be labeled clearly as popular science writing. The science writing of yore also adopted a new lexicon/term of ‘science journalism’ and later as science communication. The use of ‘science communication’ is currently in practice. But there is again a need to make a demarcation in between ‘ science communication ‘ and ‘popular science communication’.
It is heartening that Hindi science writers have lately began to understand such nuances and subtleties of the subject. Different subgenres and media Hindi science writing too has gained enormous popularity in various media i. e. print, broadcast and lately the digital media. Newspapers, magazines usually publish news and articles and even fiction stories on science. All India Radio and different T. V. channels and cables now regularly broadcast ‘stories ‘ on science. Government of India has also funded such programmes through National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) and Vigyan Prasar.
Many Hindi science blogs are increasingly inviting attention of the audience of digital medium. Science Bloggers Association of India regularly publishes popular science write- ups/posts on various scientific subjects in Hindi and has an appreciable blog popularity index. (Darshal Lal 2012). Various forms/subgenres of science writing including science news, science articles and essays, science drama, science poem, science fiction, science fiction, science reports, science features are popular amongst Hindi audience.
Hindi magazines have immensely contributed to the enrichment of popular science since as early as 1880’s when magzines like ‘Kavi Vachan Sudha’ (1867), Harischandra magazine (1875), Hindi Pradeep (1877)’ showed interested in publishing scientific essays regularly. Reputed Hindi literature magazine ‘Sarswati’ published not only scientific articles but even science fiction stories from its very first issue which appeared in 1900. Sarswati regularly published science articles and essays till 1950 after which its publication became erratic.
In 1915, Vigyan Parishad Prayag initiated publication of ‘Vigyan’ a magazine solely devoted to science in 1915. Other magazines which were of prominence but got discontinued were. Vigyan Lok, (1960), Vigyan Jagat (1961), Gyan Vigyan (1979), Vigyan Bharti (1978), Vigyan Vaichariki(1980),Paryavaran Darshan(1980),Vigyan Vithi (1981), Vigyan Puri (1981). Noteworthy contributions to popular Hindi science writing have particularly been made by Vigyan Pragati, a CSIR magazine and Avishkar (NRDC) which are being regularly published.
Eklavya’, a magazine solely for children is also being published from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh ‘Vaigyanic’ (by BARC, Mumbai). “Vigyan Ganga” (Hindi Council, Central secretariat) and ‘Vigyan Garima Sindhu’ (The commission for scientific and technical terminology, New Delhi) are magazines which are still regular and publishes quality science articles. This account of science writing in Hindi is only a bird eye view and in no way a complete description of its origin, trends and status. For further studies readers are recommended to refer the following literature in order to a have a comprehensive picture of science writing in Hindi language.
The organizers of this first science literature conference under the aegis of Mrathi Vigyan Parishad ,Solapur ,Maharashtra have done a commendable work in providing an opportunity and a common platform to science writers of various Indian languages. Such events are of great importance as they not only present a holistic picture of science writing in the country but also develop camaraderie and cooperation amongst writers of different regions and tastes. References :- 1. Mishra, Shiv Gopal (2001), “Hindi Men Vigyan Lekhan ke Sau Varsh (100 years of science writing in Hindi) Vol 1, Vigyan Prasar, New Delhi. . Mishra, Sihv Gopal, (2001), Hindi men Vigyan Lekhan ke Sau Varsh (100 years of science writing in Hindi) Val II, Vigyan Prasar, 2001, New Delhi. 3. Mishra, Shiv Gopal and Vishnudatt Sharma (2002), Swastantrata Parvarti Hindi Vigyan Lekhan ‘Hindi science writing after independence (part 1), 1950-1970, Bhartiya Prakasham Sansthan, Dariyagant, New Delhi. 4. Patariya Manoj (2000), Hindi Vigyan Patrakarita (Hindi Science Journalism), Takshshila Prakashan, Dariyaganj, New Delhi. 5. Lal Darshan, Indu Arora, Arvind Mishra & Zakir Ali. Rajnish’ (2012), Role of science blogs in developing scientific temper through digital media, pre-proceedings, Internaterial conference in Science Communication for scientific temper , 10-12 January 2012, New Delhi (NISCAIR, CSIR, Vigyan Prasar & NCSTS’s joint venture). PS: Paper was presented by the second author in “First Vigyan Sahitya Sammelan” i. e. First Science Literature Conference organised by Marathi Vigyan Parishad ,Solapur Vibhag (chapter) held in Solapur,Maharashtra on 17-18 March ,2002.