While the scientific sessions went on at various halls attended mostly by delegates, the science exhibition drew and delighted the crowd on all five days of the 98th Indian Science Congress at SRM University.
Stalls were put up by institutions of higher education, corporates and government agencies but it was the Pride of India that showcased the achievements of ISRO, DRDO, CSIR, ICMR among others that drew the crowds, mostly school students, in thousands every day. Electronics and Radar Development Establishment, Bangalore, had showcased its radars Bharani, Aslesha and Rohini, attracting every student who passed by.
The scientists were busy all day explaining the functioning of early warning systems. “If you throw a ball on the wall, it rebounds. Similarly, the radar transmits electromagnetic waves which intercepted by objects return the waves which are received at the radar,” said Vikram Thankur, Scientist-B. Scientists like him were explaining the features and functions in both commoner's language and scientific language depending upon the listeners. Bharani helps in automatic detection and tracking of fixed wing aircrafts, helicopters and UAVs flying at low and medium altitudes.
Aeronautical Development Establishment scientists were explaining the features of Nishant, a multi-mission UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) used for day and night battle field reconnaissance, surveillance, target tracking and localisation and correction of artillery fire. “Students, especially those studying engineering, are really interested in learning more about the displays,” said scientist G. Suri Babu of Gas Turbine Research Establishment. The gas turbine on display lured visitors to know more about it.
Not just students, even entrepreneurs were interested. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had displayed the recently launched Soleckshaw, a pedal-operated and motor-assisted, zero carbon emission, urban transport vehicle, developed at Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI). Soleckshaw will run for 45 km at a speed of 20 km per hour with five hours of charge, said scientist Sampath Kumar. To interested franchisees, he said the cost of each vehicle was Rs 30,000.
It was the ISRO rockets that enthralled the crowd though with mobile cameras flashing incessantly as most took pictures standing next to the displays. Not everyone was interested in the products. There were a lot of queries from students on the courses offered by the National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management of the Ministry of Food Processing. “Students were keen on placements at the institute,” said A.R. Reshma, a student of SRM University, and a volunteer at the pavilion.
P. Balamurugan, assistant controller, and his colleagues at the Intellectual Property Office, Chennai, were tirelessly distributing pamphlets to the college and school students at the exhibition. The reasons are obvious. India has lesser number of patents and the patent culture is yet to pick up in educational institutions. “Students need to be familiarised with patent, processes involved and its benefits,” he said.
It is with this hope of spreading the scientific temper that the Indian Science Congress is happening annually.