THE KERALA SASTRA SAHITHYA PARISHAD 65
been growing in strength with intellectuals and laymen joining its ranks. Its message has reached the sophisticated city college and the rustic village library alike. Today, the parishad has more than 5,000 members in about 150 units spread over the eleven districts of Kerala. Each district committee has regional committees, under which local units operate in towns, villages, schools and libraries.
Soon after the parishad was reorganized as a mass movement, it started experimenting with a new work style in consonance with its objectives. In 1971, the parishad organized an unusual kind of science campaign in connection with its annual conference at Tiruvalla. Parishad members travelling in jathas (marches) from three centres-Calicut, Shoranur and Trivandrum-addressed several meetings before they finally arrived at the conference venue. Doctors, engineers, and scientists talked to the man on the street on topics which were till then considered beyond his reach. This novel venture was enthusiastically received by the people of Kerala who shattered the myth that the citizens have no interest in science. It was this energizing experience that encouraged more effective science popularization campaigns.
In 1973, the parishad observed a science campaign week to conduct classes on a chosen topic in various centres all over Kerala. The response was tremendous: more than 150,000 people attended about 1500 classes. Thereafter, mass education programmes have become a regular activity. January 1976 saw more than ten thousand classes on "^Nature, Society and Science" in towns and villages, schools and colleges, rural libraries and hostels and even in marketplaces.
Last year the subject for the mass campaign was ^Resources of Kerala". The idea was to explain scientifically why Keralites remain poor and backward while the state is rich in natural resources. A handbook on the topic was prepared in consultation with experts from the State Planning Board and the Centre for Development Studies. Before the commencement of classes several courses on the topic were held in district and regional centres for the benefit of the volunteers.
This year the parishad is planning to conduct a number of classes on agriculture and on public health. Mass education campaigns have proved to be a great success. This unique method of informal education has on the one hand taken the parishad deep into the villages while on the other, it has itself learned a great deal from the people.
Rural Science Forums
It did not take long to realize that the parishad's presence was most urgently needed in the villages. The decision to form rural science