I was in office and had plenty of time to kill. So I started browsing through internet randomly and stumbled upon the website of CERN. Two hours passed and I had still been mining through CERN website. Despite being involved in highest class research, their website is a treat for everyone. May be you don’t understand anything about Higgs Boson. Or Big Bang Model. Or Particle Physics. They have something for everyone. Even a 13 year old student can learn almost everything (at least on basic level) about Universe. In fact, it is their aim to prepare content for every age group. Example in case: see this link.
The experience with CERN website was very stimulating. Every now and then, I occasionally visit this site just to refresh my mind. The experience with NASA website also remains the same. Their urge to share knowledge and efforts to popularize science can be seen on the very front page. If you happen to stumble upon their websites and give just five minutes, chances are that you are going to spend next one hour or more on their website. You’ll find yourself hooked. They have an entire colorful and playful section devoted to kids. In fact, their entire website offers so much content; you can become an expert of the field. One of the best features of NASA site is that you just don’t feel you are browsing through website of some government organization. Immediately after entering website, you find links to various educational resources such as NASA Images, NASA Multimedia, NASA for Educators, NASA for Students and numerous other links. You can actually feel they have taken great care about how their website should look and what it should be all about. They have tried to harness the power of the Internet.
Sadly, same things cannot be said of ISRO. NASA website is everything ISRO website is not. ISRO website pales by wide margin as compared to NASA website. While NASA’s website has visual appeal, ISRO website tries to repel you. Its presentation is so unattractive and immature; you wonder if they even care about how website should look. For once, let the visual appeal and design take a back seat. Immediately after entering the website of ISRO, you get the feel you are browsing through some boring and clumsy government organization’s website. It feels like they have launched a website because they have to. In the name of offering educational content, they offer just link named Educational Portal. This link is the last link placed at lowest left side of the website, completely hidden from the quick view. In fact, you wouldn’t even stay at this site more than 4-5 minutes. Somehow, they are telling us they don’t give a damn about science education. And I haven’t even talked about the content provided under the link I have mentioned above. By now, you must have guessed what it would be like. And you wouldn’t be proved wrong.
If you think comparison made between NASA, CERN and ISRO is only incidental and merely an aberration, think again. I can further offer a comparison between websites of Institute of Advance Studies (IAS) and its Indian counterpart Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). Story and lessons drawn remain the same, though I must add that TIFR fares better as compared to ISRO. TIFR actually offers various resources or links to other resources. But again, it pales in comparison to IAS. The point is that in general, there is no urge to spread science among common people. No wonder we are lagging far behind in science education. The comparisons made above can further be extended to US universities versus Indian universities. Story remains the same. In fact, when I tried to compile the list of websites offering mathematical resources for a blog, I noticed virtually every US university’s website has a lot of resources to offer while Indian counterparts fared dismally.
Obviously, given the largest population of youth living in India right now, we are far from tapping the potential of being super power in science and technology. I think I have made a point.