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Science congress to draw road map for technology challenges

By Fakir Balaji, IANS,

Thiruvananthapauram : India’s premier science congress beginning here Sunday will draw a road map to address the technological challenges and the direction in which the country should move to find innovative solutions to its myriad problems.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will set the agenda for the scientific community in his inaugural address and the tone of proceedings during the 97th edition of the Indian Science Congress (ISC 2010) at the sprawling Kerala University campus over the next five days.

Organised by the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Kerala University as co-hosts, the focal theme of the mega event is “Science and Technology Challenges of 21st century – National Perspective”.

“For the first time, we are holding a unique session where union secretaries of various departments will draw the vision, identify the challenges and discuss their impact on society,” former ISRO chairman and ISCA president G. Madhavan Nair told IANS.

To be chaired by Kerala Education Minister M.A. Baby, the special session on ‘science programme for the country’ will be attended by secretaries of science and technology, space, atomic energy, earth sciences, biotechnology and agriculture.

Heads of national institutions such as the Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Planning Commission member (science) and former ISRO chairman K. Kasturirangan and department of atomic energy secretary S. Banerjee will also address the delegates from across India and overseas.

Being held the first time in the Kerala capital, the event has attracted about 4,500 registered delegates.

“With an additional 3,000 students from across the country participating, this science congress will witness the largest congregation of the scientific community,” Nair said.

Keeping in view country’s demographic dividend, Nair said efforts were being made to attract the younger generation to basic/pure sciences and retain the interest of graduates, post-graduates and young scholars in core sciences.

“The government, academia and industry are striving to get back young people to various science disciplines through various schemes, scholarships and low-interest educational loans,” Nair said.

Eminent scientists like M.S. Swaminathan, father of India’s first green revolution, former atomic energy secretary Anil Kakodkar, space commission member Roddam Narasimhan and Nobel laureate Irving Zucker will deliver lectures at eight plenary sessions.

Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a scientist of repute, distinguished scientists M.G.K. Menon and C.N.R. Rao as well as Nobel laureate Roger Tsien will deliver public lectures.

The plenary and public lectures provide broader international perspectives and create awareness about the role of science in society.

Kalam will inaugurate Monday the ‘Children Science Congress’ being held as part of the national event.

Select school students from across the country will interact with the scientists, demonstrate their projects and witness a rocket launch at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre here.

“A space summit to draw the future vision for space technology and applications will be held Monday. We are giving a special focus on the human spaceflight programme and the results from India’s first maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1,” Nair pointed out.

Representatives from leading space agencies like National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA), Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French government space agency and European Organisation for the Exploitation of Metorological Satellites (EUMESAT) will speak at the summit.

A major attraction will be a science exhibition showcasing the latest scientific developments and achievements in the country.

Vice-chancellors of universities and educationists from India and abroad will discuss on the ‘status and future perspectives of science education’ Tuesday.

A panel discussion on ‘frontiers of science and technology in 21st century’ will be conducted.