Wednesday, December 2, 2015

India International Science Festival May Turnout a National Landmark Event

Science & Technology minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in a press conference in Delhi on 02-12-2015

By Vinod Varshney

Going by the massive preparations, the India International Science Festival (IISF), the first ever in India on this scale, may turn out a national landmark event in which 3,000 young scientists are expected to participate in various scientific activities including presenting research papers. The venue of the festival is Indian Institute ofTechnology, Delhi.
The underlying main objective behind the IISF, according to Union Science and Technology minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, is to promote scientific temper in the country, especially in the young generation. 

The festival will start on December 4 with inauguration of a huge Technology & Industrial Expo accommodating 240 stalls, showcasing the most advanced technologies. But the most interesting section of the festival would be two chemistry practicals on catalysis, which would be done simultaneously by 2,000 school students. If everything goes according to the plans, Indian school students would break the previous world record of conducting a science practical at one location. Another interesting feature would be the Science Film Festival where several national award winning films will be screened. 

But crux of the five-day festival would be presentation of around 400 research papers by young scientists, most of them of less than 45 years and half of them below 30 years, who have put forth innovative ideas & concepts to further develop them into useful technologies indigenously.

Speculation is doing rounds that prime minister Narendra Modi may make a sudden appearance in the festival for a short time. Dr Harsh Vardhan told mediapersons today, ‘We have invited the prime minister in the festival, but there is little possibility of his coming despite his ‘strong commitment for science’ due to his hugely busy schedule, but I haven’t lost hope.'

The festival is being organised by the union government in collaboration with a saffron organisation ‘Vijnana Bharti’ on a trial basis and if found useful and viable, it might become a regular annual feature, said Dr Harsh Vardhan. In reply to a question why this festival is being organised when the same objective is already being served by the Indian Science Congress, where Children’s Science Congress is also organised, the minister said, ‘Indian Science Congress is a big affair, it is meant for big science, where established scientists come and participate.’

All said and done, the first IISF seems to have been planned in a hurry, which the minister Vardhan himself acknowledged when he remarked that the plan was made only 5-6 months ago. That is the reason the character of the festival is not going to be truly international as the name of the event suggests. According to reliable sources there are very few participants from abroad though invitations were sent to all SAARC nations. Sources say the participation from these countries is not encouraging. There is no scientist at least from Pakistan, told the S&T minister himself. 

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