There is a thirst for knowledge among rural children: Narlikar

Eminent scientist Prof Jayant Narlikar who is avidly interested in popularising science does not believe in giving messages.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published:February 28, 2009 3:15 am

Eminent scientist Prof Jayant Narlikar who is avidly interested in popularising science does not believe in giving messages. ‘That’s the job of politicians,’’ he smiles as he gets ready for yet another Science Day (February 28 ) and more importantly interacting with children not just in Pune but as far as Chandrapur and other districts. This year,Narlikar plans to visit a unique ‘Curiosity Centre’ at a remote village ‘Jalihal’ in Sangli in the first week of March and acquaint children about the importance of the subject.

Narlikar and his wife will visit the Yerala Project Society’s ‘Curiosity Centre’ that has been developed over a year at Jalihal village with a population of 2000. Funded by Dutch based Yojana project the centre aims at arousing the curiosity of village children by exposing them to science games and non conventional energy sources and their uses.

N V Deshpande,Project Director of the YPS said that 200 exhibits have been displayed at the centre which has been frequently visited by children from nearby villages. As many as 100 children visit the centre every week,says Deshpande and for the first time will now interact with a noted scientist. The aim is to encourage logical thinking and reasoning,says Deshpande who adds that the Dutch organization has provided a grant of Rs 60 lakh for setting up the centre.

Professor Narlikar has been in great demand as public speaker in different parts of India and has been regularly lecturing to the lay audience not only in Maharashtra ,but also in other parts of the country. ”There is a need to emphasize the importance of a scientific outlook,’’Narlikar told The Indian Express.

”I went to Raipur recently and was amazed at the excellent questions raised by tribal children,’’reminisces Narlikar. They have heard about high energy accelerator and there was a thirst among the children to know more about things,says Narlikar adding that he was keen on visiting the curiosity centre at Jalihal village at Sangli.

Narlikar’s novel experiment towards science dissemination has also generated a lot of questions and answers in science. Narlikar has started the practice of asking the autograph hunting schoolchildren to send him postcard with some scientific question to which he would reply with his signature. ”The project still continues and I still get a fair share of post cards from children every day,’’ smiles Narlikar who will also speak on ‘Are we alone in this Universe’ at a lecture organised as part of the National Science Day activities at the One Life club at Pashan in collaboration with the Khagol club in the Panchavati area.

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