The Indian Space Research Organisation, along with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), is set to organise a two-day conference themed ‘Akash Tatva’ (the element Akash) in Dehradun that, according to Science Minister Jitendra Singh, would expose “youth of India to the wisdoms of ancient science along with modern scientific advancements”.
A co-organiser of the conference to be held on November 5 and 6, is Vijnana Bharati, a ‘swadeshi science’ organisation linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The conference is expected to host 35 “eminent speakers” over three days who will host discussions on topics such as developing a “sustainable life based on panchmahabhoot.” The latter refers to the five elements — or the pre-scientific concept — of earth, fire, water, wind, and air as constituting all matter. “The thrust of the conference is to attempt to explain one tatva, Akash, the ancient wisdom associated with it and how it connects to modern science,” said S. Somnath, Secretary, Department of Space, on Thursday.
“We all appreciate that the panchbhootas are all intimately associated with the wellbeing of humanity. The various environmental challenges we face may be addressed by a thorough understanding of the panchbhootas,” said Ajay Sood, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. Mr. Sood and Minister Singh were accompanied by scientific secretaries of all the departments of MoST at the press conference to announce the conference. “This conference will present Indian thought and classical concepts of ‘Akash Tatva’ on the global stage from modern scientific perspective.”
The conference would have themes such as: ‘Earth and atmosphere: interaction of Akash, Environment’ and ‘Climate change: the role of Akash, Impact of modern technology, adaptation and mitigation measures’, Mr. Sood added.
“This event, in a nutshell, represents all that the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands for,” said Mr. Singh.
In 2015, the Indian Science Congress at Mumbai — a gathering of scientists including Nobel Laureates — sparked controversy after it hosted a session on ‘aviation in the vedic age’ that many scientists characterised as “pseudoscientific.” In response to questions from the media on whether the ‘Akash Tatva’ conference risked broaching the pseudoscientific, Mr. Singh underlined that it would be a “purely scientific meeting” and attempts would be made to have a “scientific blend of traditional knowledge”.