Sunday December 17, 2017
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No controversial papers on ancient India mythology in 2016 science congress

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Mysuru: The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) decided to stick to the basic or applied science, keeping out mythology from their annual jamboree this time.

“Only pure science is our real business this time. Last year, we had certain issues when mythology overshadowed science. We are away from it and concentrating on only science,” said Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) general secretary Arun Kumar.

The 102nd session in Mumbai last year was marred by controversies as two scientists on January 4, 2015, jointly presented a paper, claiming that aircraft was invented in India during the Vedic age, dating back to 1500-500 BC.

“We are totally avoiding those (mythology) type of things though they were allowed last time, maybe, due to some pressure from ministers and maybe from our own fraternity who wanted a session in the plenary on mythology,” Kumar recalled.

Two noted speakers – Anand Bodas from Kerala and Ameya Jadhav from Mumbai – demonstrated that aviation in the Vedic age was more advanced than in the modern versions through a paper on “Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit”.

In the absence of records or archives and lack of supporting evidence, the duo asserted that the ancient aircraft were huge and could even fly to other planets.

Bodas, a principal at a pilot training school in Kerala, and Jadhav, a lecturer at the Swami Vivekananda International School and Junior College in Mumbai, lamented that owing to the passage of time spanning hundreds of years, foreign rulers who looted the country and stole artefacts had denied the benefit of doubt for its believers.

“As per the theme, chosen carefully this time with the consent of all stakeholders, including the science and technology ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, we are focusing primarily on Make in India, Clean India and Digital India campaigns…” Kumar said.

As last year’s event took place seven months after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government took office and amid concerns over attempts to revive mythology at a mega science meet, the Kolkata-based association had not given a chance to its members to present any paper that is objectionable and stirs up a controversy.

“It is not just a show, as right from Nobel laureates to a young scientist (they) have certain tasks to share their achievements and experiences with everyone,” said Kumar, who heads the Earth sciences department in the Manipur University.

He said the theme of the present session “on indigenous development” was selected keeping in view the government’s priorities.

The association’s various bodies comprising advisories, councils and executive committees have also resolved to stick to core issues pertaining to core sciences.

“Nothing controversial or objectionable will come out this time. Efforts are on to ensure the event is relevant and have solutions that will benefit all,” Kumar added. (IANS, Fakir Balaji), (image courtesy:1.bp.blogspot.com)

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103rd Indian Science Congress: curtains came down on high note

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103rd Indian Science Congress

Mysuru: Around 12,500 delegates participated in various events of the 103rd Indian Science Congress. The events included plenary sessions, public lectures and a mega-expo on a fascinating subject from school to university level. However, after a five-day session, the event concluded on a high note on Thursday.

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 media 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.

An 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 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 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.(IANS) (Picture Courtesy:thebengalurutimes.blogspot.com)

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Lord Shiva, the greatest environmentalist of the world, claims botanist

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Mysuru: A young botanist claimed that Lord Shiva, often claimed by many as ‘the Destroyer of the world’, was also the greatest environmentalist of the world. He made this view in a paper which he was to present in the ongoing Indian Science Congress in the city.

According to the Hindustan Times, the botanist, Dr Akhilesh Pandey, claimed the deity as the world’s greatest environmentalist. However, he failed to turn up at the 103rd Indian Science Congress on Wednesday.

The Science Congress had been in controversies last year for claiming the existence of aircraft in ancient India. This year too, the organization is finding itself in the same puddle by selecting Pandey’s paper for the environmental sciences segment.

People in social media had alleged the organisers of promoting a non-scientific subject in pursuit of a “larger political agenda”.

Attempting to come clean out of the controversy, Pandey, a PhD in botany was reported as saying, “My absence had nothing to do with the controversy. I injured my leg and that’s why I couldn’t come.” He further added, “So what if my paper has nothing to do with science. What is science? Today’s fiction is tomorrow’s science. Fiction is the mother of invention.”

Indicating towards his homeland’s ancient history, he added, “all the things in science we are talking about today are all in the Vedas and the Puranas. If somebody doesn’t believe me, they have to validate their position scientifically.”

“Don’t we all worship Shiva? Why then can’t we follow his path? Whether it is environmental conservation or anything else, society can’t be governed by rules alone. We need religion to show us the way.”

Arguing that one of the main motives behind his paper is to promote environmental conservation, he founded one of his strongest supporters in Dr Gangadhar Mishra, the president of the environmental sciences segment.

Although the paper of two pages starts with the claim that Shiva was the world’s greatest environmentalist, it does not provide much information to support the assertion. Moreover, random unrelated things such as why the Hindu god is depicted with water spouting from his hair or why he sits on a tiger skin mat are included in it.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University, KS Rangappa, distanced himself from the controversy and said that the institution only provided logistical support.(IANS)(Picture courtesy:timg.com)

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Modi’s five E’s mantra

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Mysuru: The 103rd Indian Science Congress (ISC) began here today with Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving a new mantra comprising five Es for scientists’ enquiry and engineering.

“The impact of science will be the most when scientists and technologists will keep the principles of what I call Five Es at the centre of their enquiry and engineering,” Modi told a galaxy of distinguished scientists, Nobel laureates and hundreds of students.

The five Es Modi listed are Economy, Environment, Energy, Empathy and Equity.

“Economy is when we find cost effective and efficient solutions, environment when our carbon footprint is the lightest and its impact on ecology is least possible, energy when our prosperity relies less on energy and energy we use keeps sky blue and earth green,” Modi said in his inaugural address of the five-day annual event.

Explaining the other two Es, the prime minister said empathy would be when efforts are in tune with one’s culture, circumstance and social challenges.

“Equity is when science advances inclusive development and improves the welfare of the weakest,” Modi said at the semi-circular amphitheatre in the sprawling Mansagangotri campus of the University of Mysore, about 140 km from the state capital and science and technology hub Bengaluru.

Besides Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan and renowned scientist CNR Rao, honoured with the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna, were present on the occasion. (IANS)