The role of civil society in influencing public opinion towards more democratic and developmental approaches is now well-recognized in diverse fields such as health, education, livelihoods, issues relating to disadvantaged social groups, and the environment. Yet, science and technology in India is predominantly seen as the preserve of the state, and more recently the market. In the linear model of innovation, civil society is seen at best as having a role in the extension or the delivery of technology produced elsewhere. This paper, a study of science in civil society, questions this assumption through the case study of the work of a civil society-led initiative in spirulina algal technology. It highlights the need for an institutional transformation of the scientific establishment into learning organizations if they are to focus on development with a pro-poor or human face.

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