When the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was set up in 1942, among the major objectives mentioned in the Memorandum of Association of the Council were "the collection and dissemination of information" and "publication of scientific papers and journals".
One of the basic mandates of CSIR relates to the collection and dissemination of scientific information in regard not only to research but also industrial matters generally, and production of scientific papers and a journal of scientific and industrial research and development. During the first decade (1942-1951), this responsibility was discharged by two independent units, the offices of the Dictionary of Indian Raw Materials and Economic Products, and the Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research. These two offices were merged and consequently, CSIR established the Publications & Information Directorate (PID) in 1951 with added responsibilities – a tribute to the foresightedness of the Indian scientific leadership that could gauge the importance of science communication, which in recent years has become a buzzword around the world.
PID was born out of the realization that there was a need to bridge gaps between those who know and those who do not know science. It was equally important to disseminate scientific information within the scientific community, helping scientists to share information and bring about a convergence of ideas thus leading to new discoveries.
With information becoming a valued commodity and science communication becoming a diverse and interdisciplinary area, PID went on to assume the mantle of a national institute in 1996 – the National Institute of Science Communication (NISCOM).
In view of similarity and couple of overlapping areas, the Indian Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC), yet another sister laboratory of information science came into being in 1952 under CSIR, merged with NISCOM in 2002, transforming into the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR).
Today NISCAIR has assumed the status of the largest institute engaged in science communication in the country and perhaps the only institution of its kind elsewhere in the world.
During the past almost seven decades, NISCAIR has carved out a niche for itself by becoming the only Institute in the country that publishes 19 peer-reviewed research journals covering the major disciplines of science and technology, 3 widely circulated popular science magazines, and also the Wealth of India that documents India’s raw material resources.
NISCAIR’s journals seek to acquaint young research scientists with frontline research issues apart from providing a platform to the scientific community to publish their research findings. The journals are international in character. Apart from having on their editorial boards eminent scientists and experts from India and abroad, the journals publish research papers from both Indian as well as scientists from abroad.
NISCAIR’s monumental encyclopaedic series, The Wealth of India, covers all of India's raw material resources be it plants, animals or minerals. It is a ready reckoner for researchers, entrepreneurs, plant-based industrialists and policy makers. An encyclopaedic series on India's raw material resources of plants, animals and minerals, giving details of their occurrence, distribution, description, composition, utilization and trade, the Wealth of India has proved handy as an authentic source to establish India’s biodiversity and traditional knowledge. It played a major role in backing up India's claim for priority in the US patent case on turmeric.
NISCAIR also realizes that while creativity leads to knowledge, for this knowledge to be really useful it needs to be communicated and disseminated to the masses in a language they can understand. Through its three well circulated popular science magazines – Vigyan Pragati (Hindi, estd. 1952) , Science Reporter (English, estd. 1964), and Science Ki Duniya (Urdu, estd. 1975) – NISCAIR has been disseminating scientific information to the masses in a language they are easily able to understand.
While most popular science magazines started during various periods of time have closed down, NISCAIR’s magazines continue to enjoy a healthy circulation for the past more than fifty years -- Vigyan Pragati (34,000) , Science Reporter (36,000) and Science Ki Duniya (8,000) .
The magazines also cater to a wide section of students throughout the country bringing them information about latest scientific developments and also helping them in competitive examinations.
The Institute has also brought out a large number of well-illustrated and moderately-priced popular science books on topics ranging from cells and genes to computers and artificial intelligence, from atom and materials to space technology and stars. The books continue to be in great demand even fifteen years after their publication.
NISCAIR embraces a wide spectrum of society in the country ranging from students and teachers to scientists and professionals, from industries and research institutions to even farmers and the common masses.
With a combined circulation of journals and popular science magazines of around one lakh, the readership works out to around 7 lakh, as per conservative estimates.
NISCAIR celebrates seven decades of its glorious existence!