EDUCATION PLUS

Indian Science Congress 2008, a mixed bag

SUMIT BHATTACHARJEE

The congress comprised 12 public lectures, over 30 plenary sessions and around 14 scientific sessions and symposia covering an equal number of topics

The 95th Indian Science Congress that was held recently in Andhra University was a mixed bag for the delegates, especially the younger lot. While for some it was a learning experience, a few felt let down. Out of the 7,500 odd delegates who attended the congress, about 2,000 were students and promising scientists from various colleges and universities spread across the country.

“I expected something more than what I saw and heard. This was my first science congress and the expectation was some path-breaking stuff being discussed. But in most of the plenary sessions we were mute spectators to things that we are already aware of.

A companion who attended an earlier congress informed that a few presentations were repeated with minor changes,” said Rajesh a biotech student.

The congress comprised 12 public lectures, over 30 plenary sessions and around 14 scientific sessions. The 95th Indian Science Congress covered an equal number of topics.

Interaction

But all were not disappointed as Rajesh.

A group of students from Kolkata were thrilled with the interaction they had with the Nobel Laureates, especially with Paul Nurse and Roger Kornberg.

“In the public lecture sessions, the Nobel Laureates discussed their inventions. That itself was a learning experience, as biotech is still in the nascent stage in India and they are in the advanced stage of research, at least 15 years ahead of us. Hearing from them about their work was a big gain for us. They were more elaborate in the panel sessions and a few of us were able to pick up some cues for our future research work on genomics,” said Sayoni, a biotech student.

For students studying environmental sciences and nanotechnology, the congress was a big boon as there were a number of sessions on important topics like forestry, agriculture, climate change, global warming, water scarcity, nanochemistry and use of nano technology in energy and automobile.

Nicely projected

“We were fortunate to have an expert in the form of Robert Curl Junior, Nobel Laureate, to deal with the subject. Nanotechnology is the future and it was very nicely projected by him. I have decided to take up nanotechnology in my MS. I was also fortunate to interact with him and could gain some tips on how to go about it,” said Srinivas, a student from Andhra University College of Engineering.

Whatever be the final outcome of the 95th Indian Science Congress, the army of volunteers earned rich accolades from the delegates.

The team of 800 volunteers that comprised students from various departments in Andhra University scored a few points over the organising committee.

Few hiccups

“There were a few hiccups from the organising point of view. We were made to wait for about five hours on arrival, during the registration process, and that incident really upset us. But the way the volunteers took care of us thereafter, we hardly have any regrets. They made us feel at home. The volunteers were accessible throughout the day and were well behaved and courteous,” said a professor from Calcutta University.

Another aspect that touched the delegates was the four-page colour bulletin that was brought out by the Journalism Department of Andhra University on all the five days.

Team head

The editorial team headed by the Head of the Department P. Bobby Vardhan and assisted by teachers C.M. Vinay Kumar, C. Ramakrishna and C. Anitha and a few students projected the day’s events with some chirpy highlights.

Fourteen young scientists proved their mettle by taking the annual young scientist award.

There were 14 sections and the young scientists were asked to present their papers, which were judged by a team of experts from the relevant fields.

Team of experts

The list includes: G. Manjunath, University of Mysore (Agriculture and forestry sciences), Shrikant Deorao, Department of Biotechnology (Animal veterinary and fishery sciences), Purnima Parashar, Punjab University (Anthropological and behavioural sciences), P. Lakshminarayana, Indian Association for the Cultivation Science (Chemical sciences), Ravi Prakash, National Geophysical Research Institute (Earth Sciences).

The panel of experts also included J. Ramkumar, Manufacturing Sciences Laboratory (Engineering sciences), Bidisha Majumdar, Jadavpur University (Environmental sciences), Ankush Mittal, IIT-Roorkee (Information and communication technology), Pradip Paik, IIT- Kanpur (Material sciences), Avishek Adhikari, Calcutta University (Mathematical sciences), Renu Mohan, IIT- Bombay (New biology), Netram Kaurav, BHU (Physical sciences) and Mukesh Jain, University of Delhi (Plant sciences).







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