Coercion, Contestation and Consensus: Shifting Scientific Practices in Globalizing India

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:50
Oral Presentation
Sambit MALLICK, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India
Two profoundly destabilizing changes – cognitive and political – in scientific practices in India are witnessed since the World Trade Organization (WTO) provisions on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in 1995. Changes at the cognitive level in globalizing India occur from monovalent to polyvalent knowledge (triple helix model supersedes both traditional disciplinary boundaries and mode 2 knowledge production created in the context of application). Changes at the political level are towards a fracturing of the authority of nation-states, with consequent pressures to rethink the forms of democratic governance. The advent of the customer-funder-policymaker as a prominent element in scientific practice since mid-1990s in India and intensifying thereafter seems to have coerced scientists to contest the IPR-regulated science initially, and then (re)negotiate scientific boundaries and to do some of the delicate boundary work. The challenge for scientists is to forge an alliance between science, politics and industry demonstrating social accountability, legitimacy and relevance, but to avoid either science or politics or industry overextending into the other’s territory – a prospect that is evidently disorienting and poses serious threats to idealized identities of science and the scientific community. The objective of this paper is to examine the factors contributing to the shifts in scientific practices from being a public resource to intellectual property. Through the drastic changes in science funding and policy-orientation in India since mid-1990s, scientists seem to be robustly mapping out the contours of cultural spaces for science and its practitioners. In this context, scientists included in the study are not actually in the process of (re)classifying a satisfactory version of “science” and “policy” through their work. Instead, they are engaged in multiple versions of actively negotiated science – policy boundaries, many of which seem to have different qualities and make different demands on them as researchers or scientists.