Impact of Science Communication on Kerala Model of COVID-19 Containment

A talk by A. P. JAYARAMAN
Chairman, National Centre for Science Communicators, India

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Kerala, the first Indian state to receive three confirmed COVID 19 cases of its medical students returning from Wuhan in January 2020, has attracted national and global attention for its strategic containment of the pandemic. Drawing heavily on its twin recent experiences of management of Nipah virus(2018) and the floods (2019) natural disaster, the state placed its healthcare infrastructure and medical human resources in combative position. It is also the first to flatten the curve and to mitigate R0 when infection is on the rise in the rest of the country. The proximate critical variables of instantaneous robust resistance to the diffusion of the disease are the pioneering political stewardship and the supportively coupled administrative regime. But the above two variables are successfully operating owing to a congenial milieu of informated citizens immersed in and exposed to a unique People’s Science Movement (PSM). For over six decades, breaking the barriers of Western and Russian stereotypes of science communication and science popularization, the state PSM was building up Science Capital and Health Science Capital under the banner Science for Social Revolution. The communication strategy of the present State Health minister reflects her rational resilience created by the duality of optimism and reality. The transformative program conceptualized by the science communication leader turned minister of General Education is operationalizing three underpinning principles of People’s Participation, Modernity and Humanism to foster disease resistance. With PSM thought leaders in political power and in close proximity to power orbits in a connected 60,000 strong science activists network, the production of scientifically designed intended effects has a string of success stories. This presentation will attempt a historical perspective of the origin and evolution of PSM and will describe case studies of societal interventions in thrust areas of science education, environment, decentralization, development, and healthcare. It will explore the correlation between Science for Social Revolution and the high HDI of 0.79 and SDI of 0.779 of the Kerala Model and highlight the contributions of PSM public individuals in the containment of the pandemic.

A. P. JAYARAMAN

Chairman, National Centre for Science Communicators, India

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