The annual five-day Indian Science Congress drew to a close in Bengaluru on Tuesday. The 107th edition of the summit, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 3, was free from controversies that have plagued the annual event in the recent past.
However, this year’s edition witnessed a few talks dedicated to promoting government programmes, including a plenary session on the last day dedicated to the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, launched in September 2018 by Modi.
The plenary session, which was titled ‘New Paradigm in Health Care System of India under Ayushman Bharat’, featured talks by former ISRO scientist L Satyamurthy and two doctors on the benefits of the Ayushman Bharat programme, while also discussing telemedicine initiatives in the country.
“Under the Ayushman Bharat programme, 1.5 lakh centres will be set up to provide comprehensive healthcare, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services, apart from free essential drugs and diagnostic services,” Satyamurthy said.
“The large flagship health insurance scheme by the government is to indirectly decrease poverty by lowering out-of-pocket expense and loans towards healthcare. It will accelerate India’s progress towards achievement of universal health coverage and sustainable development goal by 2030,” said Dr B S Ratta, a paediatric surgeon from Pune.
“The government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken up a great revolution of creating a single digital platform for the government and private medical sector in every state,” said K Selvakumar, a neurosurgeon from Chennai, during a talk on ‘Ayushman Bharat and Medical Education by using recent technology’.
Earlier on January 5, there was a presentation dedicated to the Ujjwala Yojana programme of the government on the third day of the conference. The speaker, a former Indian Oil Corporation official, however failed to show up to make the presentation.
Ahead of the start of this year’s summit, a group of scientists from Bengaluru under the banner ‘India March for Science’ wrote to the Indian Science Congress Association’s general precedent K S Rangappa, asking him not to allow the presentation of unscientific claims at the event.
“We wish to remind you of the rather unwarranted and unpleasant publicity that the last few ISCs have received due to the unscientific claims made by a few speakers. For instance, in ISC 2019, there were claims on the birth of Kauravas with stem cell and test tube technologies, the existence of the science of guided missiles and different types of aircraft and airports in ancient times, etc, apart from disparaging remarks about the valuable contributions of Newton and Einstein. Most of these claims were made, shockingly enough, in the Children Science Congress section of ISC 2019 where the audience largely comprised of teachers and young students,” the scientists said.