After last year’s controversies over attempts to pass off unsubstantiated claims of aircraft in ancient India as real science, the Indian Science Congress is set to return to more earthly subjects in its five-day 103rd edition, which begins in Mysuru on Sunday.
Unlike in Mumbai, there are no flighty assertions of science prowess from ancient India on the agenda at Mysuru, although papers on debatable subjects like yoga therapy and homeopathy are on the cards. Also on agenda are Indian research efforts in areas like atomic energy and space science. This apart, there are regular science presentations from institutions across the country.
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Since 1980s, every science congress has tried to focus on a relevant national goal. This edition attempts to focus on PM Narendra Modi’s Make in India call, under the theme ‘Science and Technology for Indigenous Development in India’ . “Till today, the development in India has been based on purchased technology. There is an urgent need to give emphasis on technique and technology so that technology is generated indigenously (sic),’’ says a statement from Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA). “The focal theme is very relevant… when our Honorable PM has rightfully raised the slogan of ‘Make in India,” said general president, ISCA, A K Saxena.
As in the past, the event’s inauguration by the PM and the roadmap he charts for pursuit of science is expected to be the main attraction. Given that the theme is related to Make In India, the focus is set to be on applied science with relevance to industry rather than blue sky research.
The congress will be attended by renowned international speakers. British biologist and 2012 Nobel winner in physiology and medicine John Gurdon, American particle physicist and 2004 Nobel winner David Gross, Israeli materials scientist and 2011 Nobel winner for chemistry Dan Shechtman and French physicist and 2012 Nobel winner Serge Haroche are set to speak at the event.
In addition, top scientists like Canadian astro physicist Art Macdonald, British biochemist Tom Blundell, Indian origin mathematician and Fields Medal winner Manjul Bhargava and Bharat Ratna C N R Rao will be speaking at the science congress.
Among sessions featuring top global researchers, one is likely to be on future wireless networks and cancer therapeutics.
Some quirky Indian papers in areas like medical science are scheduled to be presented. These include one on “Oxygen Demand of the U-18 Indian Soccer Players during Competitive Match” (sic) and “Fitness profile in Indian martial art players’’ (sic).