With the need for immediate and universal access to publicly-funded scholarly scientific knowledge to communities being emphasised at the G20-Chief Science Advisers’ Roundtable (CSAR), Principal Scientific Adviser Prof Ajay Kumar Sood underlined it won’t be an easy job to negotiate with publishers as they would tend to raise the price manifold when greater accessibility is sought.
In an exclusive chat with The Indian Express on the sidelines of the roundtable in Gandhinagar on Monday, Prof Sood highlighted that the G20 nations are looking at possibilities if the accessibility provided by the shadow library website SciHub can be provided within a legal framework so that publications can be made “available at affordable costs to countries”.
“SciHub is a platform, which allows students to access publications without going through the library system. We do not want to encourage that… that is not the intent of democratically elected governments. But we are trying to find ways that it becomes available at affordable costs to countries,” Sood said.
Noting that “it is a difficult job” to negotiate with publishers who could increase the price manifold when greater accessibility to the publications is sought, Sood added that the “‘One Nation, One Subscription’ model is aimed at making publications accessible to say, all in colleges, which is not the case at the moment”.
With G20 nations agreeing that science diplomacy is the way forward, Sood said that the idea is to offer a “helping hand” instead of treating exchanges as part of science diplomacy as a “transactional dealing”.
From India’s own experiences when help provided to Indian scientists and technologists 1950s onwards by the United States and the United Kingdom served as soft diplomacy inculcated a “spirit and culture of cooperation”, Sood underlined that “one way India can participate now is by increasing the volume and frequency of exchange programmes and training at India’s premier institutes”.
Chandrayaan-3’s success was a talking point among all G20 delegates at the meet, he further observed, adding that in the area of space technology, “India is ready to share its “experience”.