The evolving relationship between science, technology and society has been a subject of intense study for over fifty years. This followed the realization that modern science has indelibly come to be linked with societal development. Besides, it held that a particular kind of relationship characterizes science and society in oilr age. One of the first major investigations of the nature of the linkage between science, society and ideology surfaced in J.D. Bemafs The Social Function of Sconce (hereafter SFS), that appeared in 1939. The primary concern of the book lay in seeking out the nature of science in an era that had witnessed a dramatic improvement in the quality of human life, while this was also accompanied by large scale unemployment and a rapid growth in the armaments industry. This precipitated an interrogation of the nature of science, that in turn also engendered a response by a group of left wing scientists in England to restore social responsibility to scientists. Bernal principally argued that science in-a socialist planned economy would be free of the aberrant manifestations of the applications of scientifc knowledge, while it would more importantly work towards the overall development of society.
Delhi Science Forum and Social Scientist organised a Workshop in Delhi in April this year, and in the process brought together PSM activists, trade unionists, economists, historians and philosophers of science, sociologists and science policy experts. Thus the Workshop did not merely commemorate fifty years of BemaFs SFS and Bernal scholarship, but touched upon the development of the science-society relationship in Independent India. The present issue of Social Scientist carries some of the papers read at the Workshop. The Workshop was spread over two days, and was divided broadly into four sessions, the nature of scientific knowledge, a critique and appreciation of Bemal from the perspective of the historiography of science, and that of the scientific workers and people's science movements, (PSM) problems in the sociology of science and issues related to the whole question of science and planning.
Delhi Science Forum had circulated a background paper that condensed Bernal's understanding of the nature of science, as it presents itself in SFS and Vol.1 of Science in History. Any contemporary debate in the 'conventionalist' philosophy of science cannot ignore the question of Talsificationism'and the 'incommensurability' of scientific theories. Prabir Purkayastha's paper tries to get at the root of the need for falsificationism. Whereas he does not deny the accepted reading of falsificationism as a response to anti-inductivism. he argues that it cannot discriminate between