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108th Science Congress, scheduled to be hosted by Pune, called-off due to Covid-19 pandemic

Pune was to play the Science Congress host after 20 years; the event was already postponed by a year

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune |
November 18, 2021 11:34:27 am
The Congress, themed 'Sustainable Development with Women Empowerment', was to see the participation of 15,000 to 20,000 people including students, researchers from across India and abroad, and lectures by select Nobel laureates.

The 108th Indian Science Congress, scheduled to be held in January 2022, has been called-off citing the Covid-19 pandemic situation. This is possibly for the first time in the history of over 100 years of the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) that a Science Congress has not been held for two consecutive years.

Originally to be hosted at Symbiosis International University (SIU) in Pune during January 3-7, 2021, the 108th edition of the Congress was first postponed mid-2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. It was then decided to be held exactly a year later, in January 2022, at the same venue and on the decided dates.

The Congress, themed ‘Sustainable Development with Women Empowerment’, was to see the participation of 15,000 to 20,000 people including students, researchers from across India and abroad, and lectures by select Nobel laureates.

“In 2022, no Science Congress will be held and now a meet will be held in 2023. The main reason is the inability of international participants, including Nobel laureates, to travel to India due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr. Vijay Laxmi Saxena, General President, 108th National Science Congress told The Indian Express on Thursday.

It is noteworthy that Goa, at the same time, is gearing up to physically host the 7th India International Science Festival (IISF) during December 10-13, 2021. IISF is a national event jointly organised by Vigyan Bharathi, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Government of Goa.

“All the required arrangements have already been made. We are ready to go, even today,” said Dr. Rajiv Yeravdekar, organising secretary, 108th Science Congress.

It is learned that the ISCA will invite fresh applications from interested host institutions and SIU, too, can send in a fresh entry to bid for its hosting the 2023 Science Congress. “The ISCA review committee has suggested that SIU’s fresh application be considered. We do not know if Pune can host the next Congress as the final decision rests with the Executive Committee,” added Saxena.

This means Pune’s opportunity to host the Science Congress, which it had bagged after 20 years, hangs in balance indefinitely. There are four to five national-level universities that are in the process of bidding to host the next Science Congress, as and when it is scheduled in 2023.

SIU organisers informed that they had constituted 22 committees, contacted Nobel laureates and top scientists, prepared schedules, erected necessary infrastructure including a special place to host the Village Science Congress, finalised transport and accommodation arrangements for the participants.

“We have communicated that Pune, the host city, be reconsidered and given its chance to host the 108th National Science Congress in 2023,” added Dr Yeravdekar.

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