• Topic: Workshop on 'Public Health, Neo-liberal Polices and the withdrawal of the State'
  • Date: 23rd May, 2015...
  • Topic: Workshop on Science and Technology Institutions
  • Date: 23rd May, 2015
  • R Ramanujam is a professor...

  • Topic: Workshop on Science and History in India
  • Date: 23rd May, 2015

Prof. Rajan Gurukkal is an...

  • Topic: Invited Lecture at the Inaugural ceremony
  • Topic: Water Literacy to meet the challenge of Water Governance
  • Date: 22nd May, 2015
  • Topic: 20 years of WTO:Undermining democracy and self reliance - IP, Services, Free Trade Agreements
  • Date: 22nd...

About BGVS

The expectation at the time of independence, fifty years ago, that political freedom and representative democracy will assuage the conditions of the people of India, has obviously not turned out to be true, since people continue to battle with problems of poverty, exploitation and ignorance. This calls for renewed and vigorous efforts towards a participative and democratic social order that can bring about a social change based on justice, equality and cooperation, in reasonable time frames. It has been demonstrated, worldwide, that such a massive change in social order is facilitated through efforts in mass literacy. With over fifty percent of the country's population still illiterate, integrating processes that fight political, social and economic marginalization of people with mass literacy can provide the necessary vigour and capability for rapid change.

The impetus to initiate a mass action for renewal was propelled from such an understanding. The voluntary agency, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi (BGVS) emerged to put such an understanding into action.

BGVS considers literacy as a possible starting point for social transformation and the crusade against illiteracy as a crusade against conditions that maintain illiteracy, a crusade against communalism, a crusade against dependence. It is a second independence struggle, for national integration and for self-reliance, a struggle to make democracy meaningful to the millions.The earlier experience with adult education programmes, culminating in the formation of the National Adult Education Programme (NAEP) in 1978, suggested that it had not created a demand for literacy among the people. There was a lack of people's participation. The response of the government was to set up a (National Literacy Mission Authority) in 1988. But NLM had no clear strategy how to go about it.

In 1989, the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), one of the pioneering People's Science Movements (PSMs) in the country, undertook a massive literacy campaign in the district of Ernakulam in collaboration with the district administration. KSSP made use of its time-tested medium of kalajathas (cultural caravans) to reach out to every nook and corner of the district to create an ambience for the literacy programme. The District administration and KSSP, along with various other voluntary and mass organizations worked hand in hand on the platform of the now famous Zilla Saksharatha Samithi. Hundreds and thousands of young men and women came out to become voluntary literacy teachers. The campaign approach of Ernakulam proved to be a major success as there was a substantial response to literacy efforts there.

Later in 1989, when the NLM decided to replicate the Ernakulam experiment at a nationwide level with the idea of a broad-based experiment for propagating literacy, the All India People's Science Network (AIPSN), at the request of the Government of India, decided to form Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi, with the primary responsibility of placing literacy on the national agenda. Dr. Malcolm S. Adiseshiah was its founder-president and Dr. M.P. Parameshwaran its secretary. Its general council was formed of PSM activists, representatives from the Ministry of Human Resource Development and eminent educationists, social workers and artistes from all over the country. This council elected a 13- member executive committee, which continues to function through the central office located in New Delhi, and includes a representative of the NLM.