Science congress concludes on high note

Mysuru, Jan 7 (IANS) Curtains came down on the 103rd Indian Science Congress on Thursday after a five-day session, which saw a record 12,500 delegates participating in various events, including plenary sessions, public lectures and a mega expo on the most fascinating subject from school to university level.

Held in the sprawling 700-acre University of Mysore campus in this heritage city, about 140km from Bengaluru, the annual jamboree attracted a galaxy of scientists, Nobel Laureates, researchers and students from across the country and abroad.

“It was historic for us to host such a major science event during our centenary year and 33 years after holding first time in 1982 when (then prime minister) Indira Gandhi opened it,” Vice Chancellor K.S. Rangappa told IANS at the valedictory session.

Addressing the gathering at the valedictory function, Governor Vajubhai R Vala urged each scientist to adopt at least five students and mentor them in their pursuit.

“Scientists should not keep knowledge to themselves but pass on to their students and next generation. Present day students are very intelligent, as they score 96 percent in every exam unlike us when we could score high only in term exams,” he said, drawing huge applause from the packed audience in Crawford Hall.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the event on January 3 with a new mantra of ‘five 5s’ for enquiry and engineering by the scientific community, brain-storming sessions followed in diverse subjects spanning space, technology and developments in their various disciplines.

Unlike the previous congress in Mumbai, when a session on Vedic science triggered controversy, the Science Congress association managed to keep the event free from mythology and non-science.

A IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh, however, presented a paper on health benefits of conch (shank) in session on Tuesday, while a botany professor (Akhilesh Pandey) from Madhya Pradesh failed to present a paper on Hindu god Shiva being the “greatest environmentalist” as he failed to turn up on Wednesday following an injury.

The event in Mansagangotri campus also had a children’s congress, women’s congress and a fair under a’all of Pride’ dedicated to former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who expressed a wish to participate before he passed away at Shillong on July 27 last year.

“We had a record turnout of people to the exhibition, especially hundreds of school and college students from the city, demonstrating keen interest and enthusiasm among them for basic and applied science,” Rangappa said.

Veteran scientist C.N.R Rao delivered a lecture on “Doing Science in India’ on Sunday after the inaugural session, which was webcast for live streaming, about 400 scientists from overseas and across the country and about 100 noted speakers presented papers in various disciplines.

Five Nobel Laureates — John B Gurdon (medicine, 2012) from Britain, Dass Shechtman (chemistry, 2011) from Israel, David J Gross (physics, 2004) and Arthur B. McDonald (physics, 2015) from the US and Serge Haroche (physics, 2012) from France — spoke at the panel discussion on “Science & Technology: Present & Future”.

Indian-born Fields medallist Manjul Bhargava from Princeton University, New Jersey also gave a public talk on the inaugural day.

Besides Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, union Science & Technology Minister Harsha Vardhan, union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani and union Health Minister J.P. Nadda participated in various functions during the event.

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