10 January 2024, New Delhi: The Foundation for Advancing Science and Technology (FAST India) is delighted to announce the awardees of the prestigious India Science Book Fellowship. This year, three proposals have been selected for full fellowship – with recipients being recognised as India Science Book Fellows – and two proposals for partial fellowship.
Popular science books play an important role in enhancing public understanding and appreciation of science by conveying complex scientific concepts in simpler, more engaging ways. The India Science Book Fellowship was launched with the aim of introducing science into the public imagination. It has been a resounding success, drawing in a diverse pool of talented writers from across the country. This year’s fellowship saw an overwhelming response with over 780 registrations and over 350 abstracts submitted by applicants from IITs, IISc, Ashoka University, JNU, CSIR institutions, and many more. The applications also saw immense diversity in terms of applicants – scientists, journalists, science communicators, health professionals, and PhD students – showcasing the depth of scientific inquiry and literary talent in India.
Ashish Dhawan, Co-Founder, FAST India said, “There is enormous potential to expand the discourse around science in the public domain and mainstream public science books to engage and inspire. This innovative initiative by FAST-India encourages Indian scientists, journalists, writers, and science enthusiasts to share their unique stories and expertise with the world.”
The Fellows, chosen after a rigorous evaluation process, are set to contribute significantly to the field of science literature. Their works promise to bring forth unique perspectives and narratives, highlighting the richness and diversity of Indian science and research. They have been awarded financial grants of Rupees Ten Lakhs each.
India Science Book Fellows for this year are:
Ganesh Bagler, Associate Professor, IIIT Delhi – Making Food Computable: The Data-driven Science of Food
Sarthak Parikh, Assistant Professor, IIT Delhi, & Kush Dhebar, Consultant, Department of Archaeology and Museums, Haryana – Do and Die: A Game of Quantum Cricket (Quantum Computing Explained through Cricket)
Upasana Sarraju, Communications Lead at Fish Welfare Initiative (an animal welfare NGO) – Nuances in Nonsense: Quirky Science Chronicles from India and the World
Partial fellowship recipients this year are:
Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Hri Institute of Southasian Research and Exchange – When Feminists Met Science: A Chronicle of the Women’s Health Movement in India
Avinandan Mukherjee, Freelance science writer, The MS University of Baroda, Vadodara – Stone Tools: A Brief History
Varun Aggarwal, Co-Founder, FAST India said, “Stephen Hawking’s books got scientists and science into the public imagination big time… We need to do the same for Indian science and scientists. Indian scientists have a unique story to tell not only to Indians but to the world. The time is NOW.”
In addition to the grant, the recipients will also benefit from feedback provided by top-tier professionals, including publishers, renowned science writers, and bestselling authors, as well as a focus group comprising members of the books’ intended audience. They will also receive support in publishing the manuscript from a publishing house and the opportunity to participate in book launch events as part of promotions to improve their visibility.
The foundation will also provide mentoring, publishing, and small grant support to 19 longlisted candidates.
This fellowship programme not only recognises their exceptional talent but also provides them with the platform and resources to share their insights and knowledge with a wider audience. The Foundation is committed to supporting these authors through their journey, ensuring that their works reach eager readers across the country and beyond. This initiative is a significant step towards enriching the landscape of science literature in India and promoting indigenous authors in the field of science communication.
The eminent panel of jury comprises renowned authors Angela Saini, Anil Seth, Jahnavi Phalkey, Pranay Lal, and Tarun Khanna, whose contributions have been truly momentous to the success of the programme. Cactus Communications is a partner and a funder for one of the selected Fellows.