A group of young professionals (aged 30 and less) mainly scientists in Madras, started out in 1978 on a radical and rooted critique of modern science [what is called science in Europe and America is often called modern science in most Third World countries]. These very competent scientists and engineers took to the view that there were other valid traditions of knowledge , as valid as the tradition of modern science. The Indian tradition constituted an example par excellence of this . They questioned and contested that Science was a value free enterprise or that it was the only source of legitimate knowledge. It was also said and substantiated that there was a hardcore dark side to the claims of production of riches, enlightenment and life saving developments. The group engaged in a substantial investigation of the nature of Indian sciences and technologies in earlier periods, at the time of British intervention in 18th century and during the development of the colonial policy through the 19th century. Agriculture, architecture, forests, mathematical sciences received a first class critical, philosophical, sociological and historical analysis. The work of the group was published in PPST Bulletins. About 20 of which were published between 1979 and 1994. The group formally made a trust by the name PPST Foundation in 1986. However the informality, intensity and competence continued to characterise the very radical evolution of the group.
The first president was Dharampal and second C.V. Seshadri. M.D. Srinivas, C.N.Krishnan and Navajyoti Singh successively became the directors. Ashok Jhunjhunwala was the treasurer of the PPST Foundation all along and was a central figure in the organisation. A.V. Balasubramanian , L. Kannan and Vijay Chariar successively occupied the position of secretary of the foundation. This was the only group in India which could have a claim to launching an Alternative Science Movement. Not appropriate technology, not people’s science, not environmental movement, it was an epistemic movement genuinely in search of alternative knowledge basis for reconstruction of world in tune with the genius of the people whose world it would be.
In early 90s, PPST launched a movement of Traditional Sciences and Technologies of India, organised through three huge Congresses, each one attended by over thousand people for five continuous days discussing a great variety of subjects like traditional industries, agriculture, metals and materials, forestry, architecture, health, theoretical sciences and philosophies of sciences. The first congress was held in 1993 in IIT Bombay with Prof. H.S. Shankar as secretary of the congress. Second congress was organised in Anna University, Chennai in 1995 with Prof. C.N.Krishnan as the secretary. Third Congress was organised at the Gandhian Institute of Studies in Varanasi in 1998. Sunil Sahasrabudhey was the secretary of this congress. This third Congress had a people’s touch about it and was called the Lokavidya Mahadhiveshan. Conferences of farmers, artisans and women were a special feature and the atmosphere of the congress was rent with the idea of Lokavidya. This knowledge movement around the idea of Lokavidya matured further and lead to the idea and reality of Vidya Ashram.
Important members of the Foundation were Dharampal, C.V.Seshadri, Ashok Jhunjhunwala, M.D.Srinivas, C.N. Krishnan, A.V.Balsubramaniam, L.Kannan, T.M. Mukundan, Girija, Vijaylakshmi, Bhavani, Rajlakshmi, G.S.R.Krishnan, J.K.Suresh, Darshan Shankar, Sunil Sahasrabudhey, H.S.Shankar, Navajyoti Singh, Vijay Chariyar, J.K.Bajaj, N.B.Ballal, Uzramma, Jhumur Lahiri, Naresh Sharma, Rajeev Sangal, Uma Shankari, V.Balaji, S.G.Kulkarni.